Bottom-place Wigan travel to the Hawthorns to take on West Bromwich Albion in a desperate bid for Roberto Mancini’s side to pick up some points before becoming the ill-fated bottom placed team on Christmas.
The so-called “Curse of Christmas”, where the team who are bottom of the league by Christmas have always been relegated, except for West Brom in the 04/05 season, looks likely to afflict Wigan if they continue performing the way they have been.
Last week’s 4-0 home defeat at the hands of Arsenal was a wake-up call to those who thought it might be easy for the Latics to start a run following only their second win of the season against Sunderland just two weeks ago.
Their form has improved compared to the dismal nine game losing streak they were on, and late November saw Wigan pick up four points from two games before being utterly hopeless against Arsenal at the DW last Saturday.
Roberto Mancini’s side will be boosted by the return of Paraguayan defender Antolin Alcaraz, after his three game suspension for spitting at Wolves defender Richard Stearman has been completed.
Martinez will be hoping Alcaraz’s return at the back will sure up his defence that conceded 8 goals in the Paraguayan’s absence; nearly half of what they had conceded in the previous 11 games in the league.
Emerson Boyce is still struggling to make the starting line-up as he is still recovering from injury while Hugo Rodallega could return to the starting line up after the Colombian striker didn’t even make a substitutes appearance against Arsenal.
West Brom have no fresh injury worries ahead of Saturday’s game against Wigan and Shane Long will be hoping to get on the score sheet again after last week’s late equaliser against QPR; Long and Peter Odemwingie are joint favourite to score fist on Betfair.com.
Zoltan Gera is the only player for Roy Hodgson who won’t feature as the Hungarian picked up a knee injury against Tottenham at the end of November that will keep him out for the rest of the season.
West Brom are currently in 14th position, six points ahead of Wigan, and could climb as high as eighth by the end of Saturday, depending on results elsewhere.
West Brom (from): Foster, Fulop, Reid, Jones, Olsson, McAuley, Dawson, Tamas, Shorey, Scharner, Brunt, Morrison, Mulumbu, Dorrans, Thomas, Tchoyi, Cox, Odemwingie, Long.
Wigan (from): Al Habsi, Boyce, Caldwell, Alcaraz, Figueroa, Watson, Diame, Moses, Gomez, McCarthy, Di Santo, Jones, Stam, Van Aanholt, McArthur, Lopez, Thomas, Sammon, Maloney, Crusat, Gohouri, Rodallega, McCarthy, Pollitt.