Barclays Premier League
Wigan vs. Manchester City
Monday 16th January – KO: 8p.m.
Less than 13 years ago, Wigan and Manchester City were battling for promotion from the third tier of English football. Today, both clubs ply their trade in the top-flight, with one Abu Dhabi-owned outfit having made considerably larger strides than their Premier League counterparts.
Tonight’s clash at the DW Stadium sees top against bottom as league leaders Manchester City visit Wigan. The Latics go into the fixture under their worst winless run at home - eight games. This was compounded by their 2-1 FA Cup defeat to League Two Swindon Town last weekend.
The omens don’t make pleasant reading for Wigan: they have won just one home game out of 10, as well as mustering the lowest goals in the division – 18 in 20 matches. Funnily enough, Wigan were formerly unbeaten at home to City in the top-flight until a 2-0 loss at the hands of Carlos Tevez and Yaya Toure last season.
Winger Albert Crusat has recovered from a back injury and is expected to feature, while Shaun Maloney remains out of action, with Mohamed Diame on Africa Cup of Nations duty with Senegal. Roberto Martinez’s side will need a healthy slice of luck tonight to lift Wigan off the bottom, but Latics fans can assemble some hopeful optimism in the fact that the Greater Manchester club have been awarded the most penalties this season - six.
Manchester City enter tonight’s game off the back of successive FA Cup and League Cup defeats to Manchester United and Liverpool respectively, and an inconsistent run of results that has seen their Manchester rivals go level on points with City at the top of the table.
The league leaders’ cause appears to have been severely hampered by the loss of Kolo and Yaya Toure to the Africa Cup of Nations, as well as, crucially, the loss of talismanic captain Vincent Kompany to a four-match suspension after his controversial red card against United.
City fans then will breathe a sigh of relief that, according to assistant manager David Platt, their creative wizard David Silva is expected to recover from an ankle injury in time to face the Latics. Adam Johnson could make his 100th league start for the club, while the enigmatic Mario Balotelli is a doubt for tonight’s game.
However, amid the first semblances of gloom around City’s season, Roberto Mancini’s men can take heart in the knowledge that they have won their last four matches against Wigan, all without conceding a goal.
Furthermore, City are four shy of their total league goals scored last season, a measure of their superb form this season. Despite this, Mancini will cast an air of caution over his side, as they are winless in their last four away league matches - failing to hit the net in their last two.
Football experts and pundits alike say future Premier League champions win these types of games, and undoubtedly, the acid test of Manchester City’s title credentials is to come sooner rather than later.
Key man – David Silva (Manchester City)
With one talisman in Kompany absent for tonight’s clash, another must come to the fore to maintain City’s three-point lead at the top of the table. Silva, with five goals and 10 assists so far this season, has been sensational in City’s title charge, and will need to be back to his inspirational best to oversee a vital league win at the DW Stadium.
Prediction – Wigan 0 Manchester City 3
Expect the Latics’ goalscoring woes to continue, despite Kompany’s absence. Should David Silva make tonight’s fixture, expect the likes of Aguero and Dzeko to be licking their lips at the likelier prospect of boosting their individual goal tallies.
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