Wigan Athletic v Aston Villa: Preview
Wigan manager Roberto Martinez is wary of a Darren Bent-inspired Aston
Villa ahead of the relegation showdown.
Martinez was one of the few people unsurprised last week by Villa's
club-record £18million outlay for the England striker, a fee that could
ultimately rise to £24million.
Bent duly began his Villa career in stunning fashion by scoring the winner in Saturday's much-needed 1-0 home victory over title-chasing Manchester City. The result lifted Gerard Houllier's side three points clear of the drop zone and placed them in a position to build on such a triumph.
Martinez appreciates the lift both the win and Bent's arrival will have given Villa, making them a very different proposition compared to a week ago.
Ahead of the game at the DW Stadium, Martinez said: "They come here with a great feeling on the back of a good result and important performance for them, and we need to be prepared to face that.
"It's a Villa side with huge experience, enormous talent, and now with a new signing they are a team enjoying a great moment in their campaign.
"He (Bent) controls the transitional play exceptionally well, and we all know the pace he has which allows him to get into great positions. Once in those positions he has a great goalscoring record, and when he plays with confidence he is someone who can win a game single-handed, which is something very valuable and expensive in the market."
Bent has certainly cost Villa a pretty penny, yet Martinez added: "Three years ago his move would have been a big surprise. But we've become accustomed to big-money moves in the last few (transfer) windows, so I didn't see this one as a real surprise.
"We've seen high-profile players move from club to club with huge fees because in a way it seems as if everyone has a price, which is the nature of the game."
Martinez is without skipper Gary Caldwell, who serves a one-match ban following his dismissal at the Emirates Stadium, while fellow centre-back Antolin Alcaraz has been ruled out for two weeks with a soft tissue injury.
Midfielder James McCarthy, however, is poised to figure after a three-month lay-off with an ankle injury, although is unlikely to start, while goalkeeper Chris Kirkland is also available after recovering from a head injury.
Meanwhile, Aston Villa manager Gerard Houllier has launched a stinging attack on Ian Holloway ahead of the game, accusing the Blackpool boss of double standards over the Charlie Adam transfer saga.
Houllier believes Holloway has singled him out for criticism, despite the fact that other clubs have bid for the midfielder, who has today handed in a transfer request, through the same channels.
The Frenchman is angry that Holloway distanced Liverpool boss Kenny Dalglish from the offer made by the Anfield side, yet did exactly the opposite when talking about Villa's bid.
"I noticed this weekend that I was not treated the same way as my friend Kenny Dalglish," Houllier said.
"Ian said 'it must not come from Kenny' when Kenny makes a bid, 'it comes from the club'. He called me all sorts of things because our club, officially, did the right things, and went to them.
"He went back to the press having a go at me."
New signing Jean Makoun is set to make his Aston Villa debut. The central midfielder, signed from Lyon, is in the squad and may even start the match. Villa also welcome back Emile Heskey from suspension, and Kyle Walker from a back injury.
Stephen Warnock, who has been linked with Liverpool, is still training with the reserves and will not feature in the match. Stephen Ireland remains sidelined with a knee complaint.
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