EPL Preview: Wigan Athletic vs. Hull City

Brian RhodesSenior Analyst IMarch 21, 2009

EPL Preview: Wigan Athletic Vs Hull City, JJB Stadium, Wigan, March 22, 13:30 GMT.

In the dim and distant past, the meeting of Wigan and Hull would have been either a lower-league affair or a top flight game of Rugby League, but things have changed in the M62 corridor.

Now any match involving Wigan and Hull is top flight Premiership football. No longer Wigan vs. Hull FC or Hull Kingston Rovers but Wigan Athletic and Hull City.

The first meeting between the clubs this season saw Wigan come out on top, scoring five goals from only four attempts on goal at the KC Stadium in Hull.

The man of the moment was Amr Zaki, the Egyptian international who threw his hat in the ring to be the bargain find of the season for Steve Bruce's men.

It was also a big moment for the Tigers. It was the first game in which that they had to pit their wits with the majority of their Championship Playoff winning team.

The only new name on the team sheet that day was the mercurial little Brazilian Geovanni, but the rest of the Hull City team had played in the Play-off final.

The radical changes to the Tigers were due to injuries of two key players—Anthony Gardner and George Boateng—and a loan agreement between Wigan and Hull City for Marlon King, who wasn't allowed to play against his parent club.

The game saw a fundamental change in fortunes for the Tigers after the defeat. It instilled a new understanding of just how harsh the Premiership can be to the new boys on the block.

It also saw the Tigers go on a six-game winning streak that left them with 20 points, level with Chelsea and Liverpool in joint first place.

Today's game will be very different between the two sides. Hull has slipped down the table after the first refreshing forays in the Premiership, and Wigan has solidified their position as an upper mid table Premiership team.

However, if Hull City can claim a win today, it will see them seven points clear of 18th placed Newcastle United.

If Wigan claim the full three points, it will see them rise to seventh in the table, within striking distance of the European places.

Steve Bruce will be hoping that the Latics' influential Antonio Valencia

—despite a long-term hamstring injury—will be fit for the visit or the Tigers. However, he will also be without Lee Cattermole, who is still serving a four-match ban.

Hull City are without their Captain, Ian Ashbee, who is out due to a hamstring injury, as well as George Boateng and Jimmy Bullard, whose injuries are long term.

Phil Brown will be hoping that both centre backs Michael Turner and Anthony Gardner who are 50/50, will pass late fitness tests.

The Tigers will also see Dean Marney return after suspension and Kevin Kilbane could come back into face his old club after been cup tied against Arsenal mid-week.