Match Preview: Wigan Athletic vs West Ham United

Mike Hewitt

A late match preview, but as they say better late than never. Today's game is being labelled a six pointer already this early on, many pundits expecting us both to be fighting in the same areas come the end of the season, I have to agree with them. The last time the two teams met it was a six pointer, and saw Latics stay up after an enthralling 3-2 win in the dying minutes of the game.

A late match preview, but as they say better late than never. Today's game is being labelled a six pointer already this early on, many pundits expecting us both to be fighting in the same areas come the end of the season, I have to agree with them. The last time the two teams met it was a six pointer, and saw Latics stay up after an enthralling 3-2 win in the dying minutes of the game.

Yet this time round their is no Charles N'Zogbia to save us if it comes down to it, yet we do have Arouna Kone who is being our standout player of the season so far. We will need him to have a big game yet again and hopefully bag a game or get some of those assist which he has been so good at making.

So what is the lineup likely to be for Latics? Well the same as the week previous, none else is likely to come in with both Antolin Alcaraz and Albert Crusat on the side line. So it is likely to be our full strength side that strides out onto the pitch this afternoon.

How will they match up against West Ham? Well for me we beat them on every area of the pitch. On paper we have a much stronger side than they do, and the battles on the pitch should be interesting. We will look to control the midfield, while West Ham will look to play it long.

That isn't the West Ham way, it never had been and never should be, in the eyes of the fans. Yet with Sam Allardyce at the helm you know what you are going to get, long ball football with the big man up to. Personally I don't mind it, it works and you do see some great play out of it.

The question is, can our defense cope with the West Ham attacks?

This is the area I believe we could struggle in today. With out Alcaraz we still have no areal presence in the box, and facing one of the best areal presence in Andy Carroll with be a tough test this weekend. I would be tempted to put Boyce in the center of defense this weekend, and push Ronnie Stam out wide to sure things up.

But even then we may not be able to stop a player who has started to find his feet again, even though he hasn't scored in the last few games, he is still making a nuisance of himself and setting other players up. That is what you want from the big man, someone who can hold the ball up and set players up around him, something we at Wigan call the Emile Heskey role.

It is going to be an even game, that is for sure. Both teams need the win, and I think we will want the win to go with our good performances so far this season, even if they have been few and far between. So with that in mind my money is on the Latics today with the 1-0 win.

Hopefully my prediction will hold true and come five o'clock tonight we can be a bunch of happy Wiganers.

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