NORWICH City will be looking to bounce back from their midweek Capital One Cup exit with a return to winning ways in the Barclays Premier League when they take on Roberto Martinez’ Wigan Athletic at Carrow Road.
Three late goals sent Chris Hughton’s men to a 4-1 defeat on Tuesday night – their first loss in eleven games, however with a hectic festive fixture schedule on the horizon, three points will certainly be the priority on Saturday.
Last time out a James McCarthy brace secured the Latics a point in a 2-2 draw at home to win less Queens Park Rangers at DW Stadium, whilst the Canaries’ last league outing ended in a thrilling 4-3 win away at Swansea City.
Having already won away from home four times in the league and cup this season, Martinez’ Wigan will undoubtedly be dangerous opponents, but City will aiming for all three points as they look to extend the gap between themselves and the 18th placed Latics.
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CITY: Midfield duo Alex Tettey and Wes Hoolahan have re-joined training with the squad and will face a late fitness test ahead of Saturday. ‘Keeper John Ruddy (thigh) still faces a couple of months on the side-lines, although Harry Kane (foot) is in back training. Ryan Bennett (knee) and Andrew Surman (knee) are both likely to miss out.
WIGAN: The Latics have a host of injury problems to contend with, as Gary Caldwell (hamstring), Shaun Maloney (groin), and Ivan Ramis (hamstring) are all doubts. Midfielder Ben Watson (broken leg) is a long-term absentee, whilst Albert Crusat (knee) Antolin Alcaraz (groin), and Ryo Miyaichi (ankle) look set to miss out.
LAST LINE UPS:
CITY v Aston Villa
Grant HOLT (c)
WIGAN v Queens Park Rangers
Ali AL HABSI,
Franco DI SANTO.
MANAGER: ROBERTO MARTINEZ
The Spaniard started his managerial career with Swansea City in 2007, where he won League One the following year. He then joined Wigan in 2009, the club Martinez spent six years of his playing career at between 1995 and 2001. The Wigan boss led his side to Premier League survival on the final day of the 2010-11 season, and again guided them to safety in the last campaign. However despite interest from Liverpool in his services, he chose to remain at the Wigan helm.
The 22-year-old midfielder underlined his importance to Wigan with an impressive brace of goals in last weekend’s 2-2 draw with QPR at the DW Stadium. An ever-present for Martinez’ side this season, the Scotland-born Republic of Ireland international joined the Latics in 2009 from Hamilton Academical for a fee believed to be in the region of £1.2M. He made his Hamilton debut at the age of just 15 and with his exceptional technical ability in the centre of the park he will certainly be one-to-watch come Saturday.
Norwich City v Wigan Athletic
|Norwich City wins||Draws||Wigan Athletic wins|
Norwich City and Wigan Athletic have met just seven times in their histories, the first being a 1-0 FA Cup victory for the Latics in 1987. That has so far proven to be their only win over the Canaries, who won three of the subsequent meetings. Last season the sides shared two 1-1 draws in the league, with City’s Wes Hoolahan on the score sheet in both games.
TOP LEAGUE SCORERS
CITY: Grant Holt – Four league goals
WIGAN: Arouna Kone – Four league goals
MOST LEAGUE STARTS
CITY: Bradley Johnson – 16 league starts
WIGAN: Ali Al Habsi, Emmerson Boyce, James McCarthy – 16 league starts
South Gloucestershire-based official Lee Probert is the man-in-the-middle on Saturday, and has taken charge of both teams just once this season – City’s 1-0 win over Arsenal in October, and Wigan’s 2-1 home defeat to Fulham in September. Only six referees have issues less than Probert’s 43 yellow cards this season, whilst he has only shown one red card in 16 matches – to Fulham’s Brede Haangland.