Wigan down but not out

Posted by Tony Brown

Getty ImagesGary Caldwell, left, led Wigan's late run to Premier League safety last season. Can he do it again this spring?

February tends to be a worrying month for Wigan Athletic followers and this year is no exception. We have come to the point when one starts to wonder what lies ahead for the club. Once more, Wigan are in the relegation zone and the tide has still not turned in their favour. Can the team get its act together and deliver what it promises before it is too late and it falls through the trap door of relegation? Can the last-minute survival act materialize this time around?

- Scharner dreams of Wigan at Wembley

It was in mid-February last season when Latics took an eight-match losing streak to Bolton, but got a priceless victory to kick-start a revival. Criticism had been raining down from frustrated fans, vilifying the manager, asserting that certain players did not have Premier League quality. Some wanted Roberto Martinez sacked.

Gary Caldwell was one player targeted as not being up to par, but he was to prove his critics wrong with a series of outstanding performances when the going was getting tough. Not only that, but he was to be voted player of the season by the fans. Martinez's team were to produce not only great results, but to achieve them through merit, playing champagne football in the process. Could the same thing happen again this season?

Wigan currently lie 19th with 21 points from 26 matches. An average of a point per game is usually enough to keep clear of relegation. To get to that 38-point target, Latics need 17 points from their last 12 matches.

Of the remaining games, two are extremely difficult – away to Manchester City and Arsenal. The home game against a Tottenham side seeking a top-four finish is another difficult one, together with the upcoming visit of Liverpool. The remaining home games are against teams Wigan are good enough to beat: Newcastle, Norwich, Swansea and Aston Villa. The away games at Reading, QPR, West Ham and West Bromwich are all tough, but winnable.

It is still not time to write off Wigan Athletic. The players are good enough to get the results needed for survival in the highly competitive Premier League. What is needed is just that little bit of luck here and there. Refereeing decisions have been particularly unkind to Wigan this season and the injury situation has been dire.

They say luck evens itself out over the course of a season. If that is the case, then Wigan are certainly due a bagful of it over these coming weeks. The chips are down, but don't count Wigan Athletic out yet.

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