Match Preview: Stoke City vs Wigan Athletic

Laurence Griffiths

Wigan have a good record against Stoke City. We haven't lost against the midlands team in the past seven matches in the Premier League, winning two of them and drawing the other five. So hopefully Latics can continue that run and pick up some points. The flip side to that is only Chelsea have beaten Stoke City at home in the league this year.

I will be honest I like Stoke. They have a certain honest characteristic that you have to like about them. Sure they play a style of football which many say is the ugly side to the game, yet they get on with it and don't moan about it. After all it has gotten them results, and will keep them safely in the Premier League yet again.

So going into this game, I am half and half about Latics chances. We haven't lost to Stoke under Roberto Martinez, our style of play works well to open them up and create chances, and so long as you keep balls from getting into teh box, you always have a chance.

Yet coming into this one we are light on players. Nouha Dicko and Frazer Fyvie will both miss out through injuries picked up in the FA Cup game at the weekend. Add them to the other players we have missing and it is a snowball effect. One good thing to mention on the injury front, was the return of Adrian Lopez to the Latics bench on Saturday, will Martinez start the defender? I'm not to sure.

To be fair I'm not too sure how he will line us up. Its the man behind Franco Di Santo that poses all the questions. With Mauro Boselli out on loan, we only have one other striker, Aneglo Henriquez. I see Martinez using him as an impact sub, like he tried to against Sunderland, so who does he play?

I think in the eyes of all us Wigan athletic fans, Jordi Gomez should not start, and instead give way to Roger Espionza. The midfielder has performed well so far when he has played for Latics, and his strength and dynamic is something you need in your team to beat the likes of Stoke. A lightweight Jordi Gomez, could cost you the game.

Stoke go into the game in a bit of bad form, or what they call bad form. Having not won a game in their last four, while conceding 13 goals in the same period. For a side which had only conceded 14 previous to that, then they are in a bit of a rut. This as ever could change, and against Wigan they usually do.

So defensive concerns at Stoke. Not something you often have to think of when you look at Tony Pulis's side. Ryan Shawcross and Robert Huth two mean center backs who are enough to scare off most strikers.

In their FA Cup tie with Manchester City, you could see their problems. They almost look a bit out of life and energy. None seemed to be able to create much going forward, and the ball wasn't coming into the box much, while their midfield can't cope when they face off against three in there.

I think for Latics that has to be the aim. Take control of the middle, play three central players and stop Stoke from building their attacks. They like to get the ball wide so cutting off the supply to their wide men is going to be crucial, so Ronnie Stam and Jean Beausejour on their respective wings, are going to be busy on Tuesday night.

If the ball does get into the box. We have to be the first to every header, and we have to get it out and right up into their half. There can not be any half clearances. Especially not with Kenwyne Jones and Jonathon Walters sniffing around for any lose balls.

This is a winnable game, and Latics need three point. Lets hope the management gets it right and we can finish January much happier than the way we started it.

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