Wigan: Can the Perennial Relegation Candidates Survive the Premier League Drop?

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Wigan: Can the Perennial Relegation Candidates Survive the Premier League Drop?
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If the Premier League were a dining-room table, then Manchester United, Chelsea and Man City would be the sterling silver utensils, bone china plates and spun glasses.

Wigan Athletic would be the place mats. 

Unfashionable yet indispensable, little Wigan is now a part of the Premier League furniture. If a place mat were not on the table, the table would be spoilt. For lovers of the plucky underdog, If Wigan were relegated from the top league, it too would be spoilt.

It is a familiar situation. Wigan are the archetypal brawlers, the backs-against-the-door merchants. Ever since they entered the Premier League in the 2005-06 season, Wigan have been on a wing and a prayer.

With one of the smallest operating budgets and the smallest average attendance in the division, their unfashionable squad should not still be there.

Avoiding relegation this season would secure a ninth successive Premier League season for a team who resided in the fourth tier as recently as 1995. 

Current Latics Chairman Dave Whelan took control of the club in '95 and was ridiculed for his vision of guiding the club into the Premier League. 

A succession of astute decisions and shrewd managerial appointments have achieved a reality that should not have been possible.

Time and again, Wigan have looked to be losing touch going into the business end of the season, only to conjure a spectacular revival and defy logic once more.

Whether they can do it again, however, is the £90 million question.

Team

Played

Goal Difference

Points

Southampton

29

-12

28

Aston Villa

29

-26

27

Wigan

28

-22

24

Reading

29

-21

23

QPR 

29

-21

23

 

Wigan, currently residing in 18th position in the league, need to catch one of the teams above them to stay up. Currently three points behind 17th-place Aston Villa but with a game in hand, the task is onerous. 

To assess the Latics' chances you must analyze the contenders to replace them in the drop zone. A comparison of the remaining fixtures, combined with a summary of the quality, current form and morale of the squad should provide an abstract answer to the conundrum.

Then, of course, you have to factor in Wigan’s predictable unpredictability...

Of the remaining fixtures, QPR possibly has the most appealing run. With a plethora of teams scrapping around them still to play, The Hoops have no less than three "six-point games." Yet this is mitigated by QPR’s spectacular lack of form.

With the roster they possess, they should not be in this position, and although they have seen an improvement under Harry Redknapp, I cannot help but feel it is too little, too late.

The next easiest run in is Wigan’s own. With an extra game to play over their relegation rivals, Wigan have the luxury of knowing that survival is still essentially in their hands. With a host of winnable games against the likes of Norwich, Swansea, West Brom, QPR and Villa, their experience with the relegation fight could prove pivotal. 

Reading, following the illogical sacking of manager Brian McDermott this week, look doomed. With the hardest run in of the relegation contenders, including away days to Manchester United and Arsenal, a squad this short on confidence should be fodder. With McDermott, Reading may have stood a chance, but with such unnecessary upheaval so close to the end of the season, survival now would be a miracle. 

Southampton

Aston Villa

Wigan

Reading

QPR

Liverpool (H)

QPR (H)

Man City (A)

Man Utd (A)

Villa (A)

Chelsea (H)

Liverpool (H)

Newcastle (H)

Arsenal (A)

Fulham (A)

Reading (A)

Stoke (A)

Norwich (H)

Soton (H)

Wigan (H)

West Ham (H)

Fulham (H)

QPR (A)

Liverpool (H)

Everton (A)

Swansea (A)

Man Utd (A)

Swansea (H)

Norwich (A)

Stoke (H)

West Brom (H)

Sunderland (H)

West Ham (A)

QPR (H)

Reading (A)

Tottenham (A)

Norwich (A)

Tottenham (H)

Fulham (A)

Arsenal (H)

Sunderland (A)

Chelsea (H)

West Brom (A)

Man City (H)

Newcastle (H)

Stoke (H)

Wigan (A)

Arsenal (A)

West Ham (A)

Liverpool (A)

 

 

Villa (H)

 

 

 

Dismissing the credentials of Reading and QPR, Wigan's fate hangs in the hands of either Southampton or Aston Villa.

Paul Lambert’s Villa side have been defined by their inconsistencies this season. With an unprecedented young squad, amazing away victories (notably at Liverpool) have been nullified by games of abject mediocrity. With a relatively hard run in, Aston Villa’s last-day fixture against Wigan looks like it might prove pivotal. 

Of the bottom five, Southampton have played the most consistently this season. Without a particularly decorated squad in the QPR mould, Southampton have worked with what they have to produce a number of scintillating performances, defined by last month's annihilation of Champions Manchester City.

A prediction is an incredibly vague litmus test of the reality. However, I have attempted in order to appease the masses:

Team

Played

Points

Wigan

38

38

Southampton

38

37

Aston Villa

38

34

QPR

38

32

Reading 

38

28

 

They can do it on paper, but reality is far stranger than fiction.

Could this be Wigan’s year to go? Will you miss them? Quite frankly, do you even care?

Tell me what you think in the comments below.

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