Despite only being 1 point from safety, the bookmakers have Wigan Athletic as short as 1.50 favourites to be relegated from the Premier League at the end of this 2010/11 season.
Having started the season with back-to-back home thumpings at the hands of Blackpool (4-0) and Chelsea (6-0) respectively, it looked all doom and gloom from the start for Robert Martinez’s side.
Wigan have picked up 23 points from 25 games this season, but have the worst goal difference in the league. No team has scored fewer than their 22 goals this season. Their 2 home victories is also the lowest in the Premier League.
Lack of January Deals
The extension of Tom Cleverley’s loan from Manchester United until the end of the season was good business in January. The only other play brought in during the latest transfer window was Conor Sammon from Kilmarnock. Strikers from the Scottish Premier League always seem to fail for lower half Premier League sides. Kenny Miller was a perfect example of that, for both Wolves and Derby County. Can Sammon break the mould? Roberto Martinez has already failed to get much from a regular scorer in Scotland. That being Jason Scotland, who scored just once in 32 Premier League appearances last season.
Lack of Goals
Goals have clearly been a problem for Wigan this season. Hugo Rodallega leads the club with 6 goals. Charles N’Zogbia (4), Tom Cleverley (3) and Ben Watson (2) are the only other players to have scored more than a single goal for Wigan this season. Striker Franco Di Santo has failed to score in 16 league appearances and over 12 hours of football this season. One can only assume he won’t be playing Premier League football next season.
Injuries to defenders Antolin Alcaraz, Gary Caldwell and Maynor Figueroa will hamper them for the next couple of games at least. Ali Al Habsi in goal has made some great stops this season, but he’s vulnerable to mistakes also.
Fixtures aren’t kind for Wigan in the near future either. Today’s home game versus Blackburn is a must win if they ever need one. They follow this game up with matches against Liverpool (away), Manchester United (home) and Manchester City (away). In contrast, Wolves play both West Brom and Blackpool in their next 4 games, West Ham play Birmingham, West Brom and Stoke, Birmingham also play Stoke and West Brom, and West Brom have a nice set of fixtures immediately after their trip to Eastlands today. With those teams exchanging points this month, I expect Wigan to start falling adrift of safety as we head into March. Therefore, there odds will be much worse than they currently are.
Down, Down, Down
With Hugo Rodallega’s goals being few and far between, Charles N’Zogbia only scoring once in his last 12 games (a deflected free kick) and with some disciplinary problems (4 red cards), I expect Wigan to lose a lot of belief over the coming weeks. Failure to win today and their odds will be even shorter for relegation. Wigan are currently a tasty 5/2 to finish bottom.