Wigan can carry Cup fever to Arsenal but it won't be enought to avoid the drop

14May 2013

England - Premier League

 

Wigan have enjoyed more than their fair share of fairytales over the past few years, from their rise up through the divisions, to defying the odds for Premier League  survival, not to mention FA Cup glory. But Hannah Duncan explains why, despite a possible point at Arsenal, the Latics may just have left it too late this year....

 

Wigan Athletic had the biggest match in their history at Wembley on Saturday, but its importance is arguably set to be usurped as they travel to Arsenal, in a fixture  which could seal their Premier League fate.

 

The Latics have become famous for their great escape antics over the past few seasons, but never has their top-flight status seemed so perilous.

 

If Roberto Martinez's side lose at the Emirates Stadium, they will be playing Championship football next season and even a point is unlikely to be enough thanks to  Sunderland's vastly superior goal difference.

 

Wigan are massive 8.8 outsiders to beat Arsenal, with the draw at 5.6, and remain 1.06 favourites to join QPR and Reading in the Championship next season.

 

But the fact that the Gunners still have plenty to play for could play into the Latics' hands. Wigan are not a side afraid of playing good football, knocking the ball  around and maintaining possession, not dissimilar to Arsenal's own style.

 

And with Arsene Wenger's side forced to be on the offensive as they chase Champions League football, an open game should suit Martinez's FA Cup winners down to the  ground and they should have more than a pinch of confidence following Saturday's sensational Wembley success.

 

Callum McManaman could play a vital role in north London, if he can replicate the form which saw him terrorise Gael Clichy at the weekend, while Shaun Maloney and  Arouna Kone can also cause problems for the Gunners defence.

 

And victory at the Emirates, however unlikely it looks, would set Wigan up for a huge relegation head-to-head against Aston Villa on Sunday.

 

The Latics are favourites to get three points at 2.08, with Villa 3.9 outsiders for victory.

 

Of course, the match could mean little more to Wigan than simply waving goodbye to their Premier League status, but it's set up for a cracking encounter should they  take all three points against Arsenal.

 

But another major talking point surrounding Wigan is the future of manager Martinez. Not many top-flight bosses could be fending off relegation and talk of a move to  European contenders at the same time, but Martinez is held in very high regard.

 

The Spaniard is currently the 4.2 favourite to succeed David Moyes at Everton, but with Wigan competing on a European stage next season, the lure could keep him at the DW Stadium, regardless of the Latics' domestic status.

 

But there's little doubt that if Wigan do overcome all the odds by beating the drop yet still lose Martinez, the incoming manager will have an incredibly difficult job  to keep them afloat for yet another season in England's top-flight.

 

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