Premier League preview: West Ham v Wigan
By Football News
Wigan will need to extend their recent dominance over West Ham if they are to have a realistic chance of staying in the English Premier League.
While Wigan can be understandably happy to have qualified for the FA Cup final, the Premier League strugglers have definitely set themselves a task to remain in England's top division next season.
Due to their cup run, Wigan have a number of rescheduled Premier League matches to play before the season finishes in just over a month and this will test Roberto Martinez's squad to the limit as he attempts to put together another late escape act.
Wigan have six Premier League matches to play, plus the FA Cup final, before their season concludes on May 19.
Four of those Premier League fixtures are against teams in the top 10, which means Martinez's side will most likely need to take maximum points against West Ham on Saturday and Aston Villa on the final day if they are to avoid relegation.
Wigan sit 18th on the Premier League table, three points and one position from safety, but should be confident against West Ham, having beaten the London club in their past three meetings in all competitions.
Martinez's men have already knocked off West Ham twice this season with a 2-1 win in the league at home in October, while they triumphed 4-1 at Upton Park in the League Cup in September.
Pint-sized Scottish attacking midfielder Shaun Maloney will be critical for Martinez with two goals in Wigan's past three matches in all competitions.
Maloney has six goals and five assists for Wigan this season.
West Ham will be keen to get rid of their frustration against Wigan after being pegged back twice in their midweek 2-2 draw with leaders Manchester United, while the visitors lost 1-0 to Manchester City on Wednesday.
The hosts moved up to 11th with their draw against Manchester United and could reach the top half of the table if they overcome Wigan, which would be an impressive result for manager Sam Allardyce after leading West Ham up from the Championship last season.
West Ham are undefeated in four matches and should be tough opposition for Wigan with centre-forward Andy Carroll in top form for Allardyce's team.
Carroll has been involved in all but two of West Ham's past six goals, scoring three and setting up another in his team's past five matches.