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Relegation candidates – brittle Wigan must stem goals

| 02.08.2010

Following a season where Wigan Athletic finished in 16th place, with the worst goal difference in the league (-42) it is hardly a shock to see them installed as just 9/4 to get relegated.

Roberto Martinez is the 5/1 favourite to be the first Premier League manager to leave his post and if his new signings don’t take to England straight away this could be a season Wigan end their six-year stay in the top flight.

Chris Kirkland has finally found a home at the JJB Stadium, establishing himself as unquestionable first choice between the sticks. An imposing figure capable of excellent saves, he was nevertheless at fault during last season.

Wigan conceded 79 goals last term – the fourth highest total in the history of the 38-game Premier League. A 9-1 hammering at Spurs and an 8-0 demolition at Chelsea were record losses the Latics will not be proud of.

World Cup Paraguayan Antolin Alcaraz has shrewdly been brought in on a free to provide strength and nous, while gaffe-prone Titus Brambe and Mario Melchiot are out.

With January transfer Gary Caldwell in at the back for a complete campaign, the question of whether the side stays up (3/10) depends on how well the new boys gel.

Charles N’Zogbia had a great season on the wing for Wigan, scoring five league goals and assisting another six. Martinez needs another season like that if Wigan are to have any hopes of finishing in the top ten (6/1).

One of the team’s better players over the last few years, Paul Scharner has gone, replaced by James McArthur, £1million from Hamilton. More steel in the midfield is required if Wigan are to stem the flow of goals.

Hugo Rodallega started the season in blistering form, before fading. Scored goals in his side’s shock wins over Chelsea (3-1) and Aston Villa (2-0) to end the campaign on a creditable 10 goals.

He’s an unlikely 100/1 to win the Golden Boot, but with £6million signing Mauro Boselli (32 goals in 57 games for Estudiantes) by his side, Wigan should score more than the pitiful 37 managed last time.

Martinez has spent decent money assembling a squad full of unearthed talents that on paper looks balanced enough to stay up. But if they self-combust like they did at times in 2008/09 the ignominy of finishing bottom (8/1) is possible.



Richard Anderson