The task for both teams tonight is simple – 2 games of the season left, and nothing less that 2 wins is enough.
And both teams have their destiny in their own hands.
Wigan Athletic are 5 points clear of safety but a win tonight would bring them to within 2 points of Aston Villa. With the last game of the season at The DW Stadium against the aforementioned team, another victory would save Wigan and relegate the team from Birmingham.
And it’s a similar situation for us tonight. Tottenham sit 2 points clear of us and a win against Wigan would see us leapfrog our North London rivals by a solitary point. Going into the last day of the season, another win away at Newcastle would secure a Top Four finish and that hugely coveted Champions League spot next season.
So both teams are desperate for victory, probably meaning you’re best putting your money on a draw!
It will be a battle of wits between the two managers on the touchline, and a battle of desire and fight from the players on the pitch.
The game is too close to call – those thinking it will be a whitewash to the home side are sadly deluded. Wigan are on a massive high after winning the FA Cup against all the odds on Saturday so don’t think they will be afraid of facing us. I don’t need to remind you Wigan won the same fixture last season.
If Arsenal give it absolutely everything, and start like they did against Manchester United then we can’t ask for any more than that. But while we should underestimate Wigan and their ability to beat the top sides in the Premier League, they do have their weaknesses.
Defensively they can be suspect. Against Tottenham the other week, both of the goals they conceded could have been avoided and they played well enough to deserve all 3 points. The same could be said about their away game against West Ham as well, for the majority of the game they dominated play and possession, only to concede goals against the run of play. If we score early and keep up the tempo, we can overwhelm them and take all 3 points.
But give them half a chance and they’ll take it. McManaman is a big threat from wide positions, as is Kone with his pace. They have players like Maloney who can hurt us from set-pieces and that is something we need to be weary of with our relatively “small” team.
We’ve also had 10 days to prepare for this game so we really don’t have any excuses, while Wigan only played 3 days ago in the biggest game of their history.
Who knows which way this is going to go, but one thing is certain and that’s it won’t be an easy night.