The final stretch is upon Wigan, and we face a Newcastle side which is starting to pull clear from the bottom three. A 2-1 win over Stoke in the Premier League last week sees Newcastle more or less out of reach, so a win for Wigan will be important. The confidence in the Latics camp is high, so anything could happen.
Newcastle have had a bad season. That is if you take into account their spectacular one from last year. It was never going to be as amazing, and it would always fall below the hype. The unwillingness to over pay for players, or to over pay the players is a testament to Alan Pardew and Mike Ashley up in the North East.
In January though they looked for the bargains and arguably found them. The French Revolution is well and truly on at Newcastle, with four new French faces joining their ranks, and helping to boost them massively. The main man out of the five so far has to be Moussa Sissoko, who was he man of the match in Newcastle’s win over Chelsea a couple of months ago.
The players is a true box to box midfielder, and Newcastle look like they could have snatched a bargain, getting in ahead of some of Europe’s big clubs who had been keeping an eye on the young Frenchman. He joins Yohan Cobaye and Check Tiote in a midfield three, which you could argue is one of the best in the League.
The need for new defenders was also met by Newcastle in January with experienced right back Mathieu Debuchy and young central defender Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa also coming in. It shows why there has been a change in form for Newcastle as their new players start to adapt to their way of life in the Premier League.
This will be a tough test for Wigan there is no doubt about that. Even if we mention the elephant in the rumour (the departure of Demba Ba) has having weakened the Tyneside club, you still can see the quality of the players they have at the club who can cause Wigan some serious trouble.
But it is Wigan who have to cause the trouble this time around. We have to be on the front foot from the start and go at Newcastle, this all depends on the team selection, there are a few players who could slip into the starting line-up.
Two players who do warrant a start are the returning Antolin Alcaraz and the inform Callum McManaman.
Alcaraz showed against both Liverpool and Everton that he is ready and up to speed to start playing for the first team again, and in my eyes he is the best player at the club for dealing with mistakes at the back. But who would he replace? Do you take out Paul Scharner or Maynor Figueroa? Neither have deserved to be dropped, nor would you say does Gary Caldwell who, although was dire against Liverpool, has kept our defence in some shape for most of this season.
Callum though should come in and replace Franco Di Santo. For me there should be no question the young winger has been fantastic in his last two starts and at a time when we need something special he could prove to be that something. High work rate, skilled on the ball and able to finish in the box; he does have the complete package. It could be time to throw him in at the deep end.
Roberto Martinez has plenty to choose from ahead of the game, and it is the better option to be in. Unlike earlier in the season when we were struggling to field a fully fit and inform side. This time round we have too many players starting to peak. It all depends on the game plan, and how Martinez wants to handle the Newcastle midfield.
Whether to overpower them and make them work hard getting back, or contain them with our passing game; knowing Martinez he will more than likely go for the second one, but I would love to see us go for broke and attack teams in the last ten games. That way at the end of it all, if we do go down, we can hold our heads up high and said we gave it our best shot.
Yet we aren’t going down just yet, and getting three points from what will be a close game, could spark our survival push.