Roberto Martinez must be looking at how the first couple of weeks of the season have gone and feeling thankful that he didn’t think that the grass was greener elsewhere.
Players come and (more often than not) go from Wigan, but Martinez has remained loyal to the club and, in particular, his chairman Dave Whelan and as Athletic enjoy a fine start to the campaign, the Spaniard must be pleased he wasn’t tempted by the huge rebuilding job at Aston Villa.
Because while Paul Lambert realises the task isn’t quite how it was advertised, the former Swansea boss has just continued where he left off last season and the early signs are that the Latics are not going to need a miracle escape from relegation this year.
A run of seven wins from their last nine fixtures in 2011/12 lifted Wigan from the foot of the table to safety, as well as lifting Martinez’s standing in the game, and having turned down Villa two summers running, the former Latics star seems happy to build on his impressive work at Wigan in recent seasons.
Pulis has overseen just 13 away wins in Stoke’s 77 games on their travels in the Premier League, a dreadful sequence that puts awful strain on their form at the Britannia, and with that kind of record you can’t be backing them.
Of course, Martinez was interviewed for the Liverpool job over the summer (in case you were unaware, just ask Whelan to fill you in on the details, he will be more than happy to), which means he wouldn’t be averse to a challenge at a bigger club, but for the time he remains at Wigan the club should stave off relegation, despite their inferior budget.
The next challenge for the Latics arrives with the visit of Stoke City on Saturday and I’m expecting them to continue their fine start to the year with another victory. They are 6/5 with bwin to do just that, with the draw quoted at 11/5 and the Potters at 23/10.
Wigan just have to be the preference. Stoke haven’t been as busy in the transfer market this summer as some would have imagined – although the last-minute arrivals of midfielders Charlie Adam and Maurice Edu will help – but it looks as though their season will progress as normal. One goal in two games is par for the course for Stoke, although to be fair, so is the fact they have converted that into two points.
Tony Pulis has been using smoke and mirrors to keep the Potters afloat for their four years in the Premier League and a tally of 36 goals last term was in keeping with totals of 44, 36 and 38 in previous campaigns. Just as measly has been their away win ratio, which has been shockingly bad since promotion in 2008.
Pulis has overseen just 13 away wins in Stoke’s 77 games on their travels in the Premier League, a dreadful sequence that puts awful strain on their form at the Britannia, and with that kind of record you can’t be backing them to beat anyone at just 23/10.
Wigan are playing with the confidence that last season’s great escape has brought. Despite the disastrous start in the defeat to Chelsea, the Latics were impressive and away wins over Southampton in the league and Nottingham Forest in the Capital One Cup have been comfortable, especially now that Martinez may have found a goalscorer in Arouna Kone.
Stoke haven’t beat Wigan in six and haven’t won at the DW since the two clubs were in the Championship, and Martinez can enjoy another fine afternoon against a team with just one win in13 league games.
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