Match Preview: Wigan Athletic vs Southampton

Clive Rose

Finally al the focus now is back on the foobtall, and hopefully Latics ill supply some. The lads have been growing in confidence over the month of January, and after a very impressive second half against Stoke City where we came back draw, all the indications are pointing towards the Latics revival. Lets hope I'm right.

Here we go again, time for me to say how our lads need to step up, and show some determination to win the game and pick up points. The problem is, that is is the same thing, the past few weeks I feel I repeat myself changing the build up depending on the team, the lads keep playing the same each week, down right frustrating!

They have moments of pure brilliance where we can score goals and open teams up. This is then followed by periods were we lose the flow of our game, and concede goals and lose ground on teams.

In our last two Premier League games, this has been very apparent. Both against Stoke City and Sunderland, there were periods where we controlled the game and looked the better side, then there were periods where we just weren't ourselves and couldn't keep the ball.

Keeping the ball, aren't we meant to be good at that? I know at times we are fantastic, and the two goals we scored against Stoke were sublime pure passing flowing football and opening the opposing team up, before we put away our chances. Very much like the team we saw last season, and seeing glimpses is better than not seeing anything at all.

Can we hope for more against Southampton? I would like to think so, under their new boss (Mauricio Pochettino) they have started to play a high line attacking style. That was very evident against Manchester United, as they pressed the reds high and got bodies forward quickly. Try that against us, and they will come unstuck. So hopefully they will.

There are gaps in their midfield I think we can pick up, and their center backs don't look like they can cope with players running in the channels between them, something you are more open to when you throw more players forward. Shaun Maloney will be the man looking to fine these areas. The attacking midfielder will have to play off and round Franco Di Santo, with Franco looking to be our target man up front.

Speaking of which, Southampton have their own target man we have to watch out for. Since day one in the Premier League, Rickie Lambert has been by far the Saints best player. For a man who has never reached the dizzy heights of the top league, he plays like he has been here all his life. Very much like Grant Holt last season.

Like Holt, Lambert has slowly changed his game over the season, to allow him to still get on the score sheet. That is the sign of a very good striker, someone who can change his game to score goals. Ask Chelsea fans about Fernando Torres and his one style of striking, they would love for him to change is style of play; but that ain't going to happen.

Lambert's change in his style has been suitable, yet very effective. The striker was for long periods of his career a lower league player, so used his strength and speed to beat players to the ball before beating the goalkeeper. He has always been a very good technical goalscorer, a lot of his goals being well hit and on target. Yet that is the side that he has improved the most. He no longer relies on his brawn, instead more his brain to score goals. Knowing when to conserve his energy and knowing where to be to get on the end of the ball.

Every team wishes they had a striker like Lambert, so far his ten goals have managed to pull Southampton out of the relegation zone.

So now for a quick summary of the team news. Wigan have none in line to return for this weekend's game, Antolin Alcaraz and Adrian Lopez are both now in full training so could be close to returns. That then makes you wonder why we signed Paul Scharner, although the versatile player adds an extra dimension to any team. Paul is in line for his second debut with the club, can you remember his first?

Yet even if we are to beat the south coast club, Wigan wouldn't climb above them. Southampton having a three point gap, and a large better goal difference than Wigan. Hopefully we can change that on Saturday, we can't afford to be six points adrift of the Saints come six o'clock on Saturday night.

So lets get behind the lads this weekend, and will them over the line to hopefully a game that will be a relegation six-pointer that swings in Wigan's favour.

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