The Premier League season just wouldn’t feel right if Wigan Athletic weren’t in a relegation scrap with just two games remaining. Last season, Roberto Martinez’s men turned up the heat towards the final month or so, steering the Latics up to fifteenth to confirm survival once again, but this season is different. Wigan have an FA Cup final on their minds, and with two huge games after the final, Martinez has a dilemma on his hands. Should Wigan concentrate on the FA Cup final in order to try and win a trophy, or should they play a weakened side against Manchester City in the final and concentrate solely on Premier League safety?
After Tuesday’s 3-2 loss at home against Swansea, Wigan still remain in the bottom three, but missed a chance to move up three places in the league if they had held on to a win. The race for survival could be out of Wigan’s reach by this weekend, or it could go down to the final day of the season when Wigan host Aston Villa.
In recent years, we have witnessed big clubs like Wolves, Blackburn and Bolton all struggle after relegation from the Premier League, as they linger above the relegation zone once again in the Championship the following season (Wolves relegated to League One). Wigan have been yo-yoing above the relegation zone since the 2009-10 season, and supporters may fear that relegation this season could prove costly in the clubs stature after seeing former Premier League teams battle financially.
Martinez should concentrate on the club’s remaining Premier League fixtures, as the FA Cup final will be a very tough match due to Manchester City’s lack of title success in the league this campaign. Roberto Mancini, whose future is in doubt at City, will want to add another trophy to the Sky Blue’s cabinet and with nothing to play for in the league, City will field a full-strength side at Wembley against Wigan. Mancini’s side have already taken their foot off the gas in the Premier League following United being crowned Champions. It is evident they already have one eye on the Cup final.
Wigan take on Arsenal at the Emirates three days after the FA Cup final, a game which could be pivotal in the clubs survival hopes come the end of the season. Admittedly, the Arsenal match will not be easy for the Latics, as a Champions League spot will still be up for grabs for Arsene Wenger’s side. However, if Wigan can grab a win going into the penultimate game against Aston Villa on the final day, then survival could be in touching distance.
As much as an FA Cup would delight the supporters of Wigan, I think the Premier League is much more important for the club and Martinez should bare that in mind when fielding his chosen 11 for the Cup final against a strong Manchester City side.