The Latics head north on Monday evening, to take on an out of sorts Newcastle United as they kick off the crucial busy festive period.
Roberto Martinez will be grateful of the extra 48 hours break given to both sides as a result of the game being switched for Sky’s Monday Night Football coverage, as he looks for more luck on the injury front.
Having headed into the midweek clash against the Champions without all three first choice centre half’s, the Spaniard could well be forced to stick with same defensive line. Captain Gary Caldwell and midfielder David Jones are both rated as 50-50. Meanwhile Antolin Alcaraz, Albert Crusat, Ivan Ramis and Ben Watson are all ruled out with various ongoing injuries.
Both sides head into the clash separated by only goal difference, as Newcastle boss Alan Pardew looks to avoid a third straight home defeat and bring an end to five game winless run.
Injuries and European football have exposed the lack of depth in the Geordie team, as they focussed much of the summer in hanging onto prized assets rather than add to an already small squad. Pardew will not be able to call upon the services of the influential midfield pairing of Yohan Cabaye and Haten Ben Arfa, who both look set for lengthy spells on the sidelines. Elsewhere centre half Steven Taylor was also added to a growing injury list this week and utility man James Perch is suspended.
On what is expected to be a bitterly cold night the Latics will look to heap more pressure on the home side and keep the crowd quiet. They will gain confidence from their last outing against City where they were arguably the better side for large parts and created a number of openings.
Arouna Kone and Franco Di Santo led the line impressively and Jordi Gomez was unfortunate not to have been awarded a penalty before half time. Despite the absence of his first choice centre half's Martinez will have been encouraged by the performance of Adrian Lopez who lead the line and held his own against the Champions.
Elsewhere the Latics have secured a home tie in the Third Round of the FA Cup against League One outfit AFC Bournemouth and will be keen to make up for the Carling Cup disappointment with a run in the Cup.
Before the the cup kicks in, they head into a busy and potentially season defining festive period, with games against QPR, Norwich, Arsenal, Everton and Aston Villa to come before they face Manchester United on New Year’s day.
Much will depend on Monday evening if
’s men are in the mood to impress, the Spaniard warned ahead of the game that this is potentially a bad time to take on Martinez but will want to take advantage of the situation and
move clear of Newcastle and the teams below them. Newcastle,
For the fans heading up north they will take heart from their last two Monday night outings where they secured memorable victories against Arsenal and
Blackburn securing their top flight status in the process.