Will Wigan be celebrating at the end of the season?
Wigan have just nine EPL fixtures to gain enough points to stay up, and despite remaining in the relegation zone over the international break it’s technically still in their own hands.
With all EPL teams on a temporary rest, it’s the perfect time for some players to recharge their batteries ahead of the frantic end-of-season fixtures.
Wigan’s Austrian defender, Paul Scharner believes the two weeks off that his team will have had after their 2-1 victory against Newcastle will give Latics the chance to be ready for their relegation scrap and possibly a place in the FA Cup final too.
Speaking to Wigan Evening Post Scharner said, “We have done our job up to the international break, and hopefully we will come back refreshed and ready to keep doing it until May.”
They next face Norwich in the league on Saturday 30 March and know that a win will take them out of the bottom three and move above Aston Villa at least for 24 hours.
Latics’ main rivals in their fight for survival are Villa and they play the next day against Liverpool who still remain in the hunt for a European place and will want to redeem themselves after a disappointing loss to Southampton in their last outing.
If things go Latics’ way then they will be level on points, ahead on goal difference and still have a game in hand and psychologically give them a massive boost.
Realistically, Wigan could reach the magical 40 points mark which is widely regarded as a safe amount to ensure another season in the top flight.
Victories in the next two EPL games at home to Norwich and away to Queens Park Rangers could be the most important of all as it would see Roberto Martinez’s men requiring seven points from their last seven fixtures.
In the process, a win at QPR could condemn Harry Redknapp’s men to concede any hope of clawing their way out of the drop zone and leave them thinking early about life in the Championship.
Latics supporters would see these games as a potential maximum point return which will be vital as they then face a daunting away trip to the Etihad against EPL champions Manchester City with most people giving Wigan no chance.
So where else can Wigan pick up at least seven more precious points? After a likely defeat to Mancini’s boys, Latics travel to Upton Park to face West Ham who they beat 2-1 back in October.
Most Latics fans would view a draw as a good result and that point will leave Martinez requiring two wins to reach the 40-point milestone.
Ten years ago was the last time a side achieved more than 40 points and were relegated when West Ham acquired 42 points and ironically they could still be drawn into the survival battle should they lose to Wigan.
Will 40 points be enough for Latics to avoid relegation?
Wigan will be relying on title favourites Manchester United to do them a favour by taking all three points against Villa on the Monday before they face Tottenham Hotspur at the DW Stadium on 27 March.
This will be a tricky fixture as Spurs are chasing Champions League football again and will be right in the mix, so it will be a bonus for Wigan to secure even a point especially with the in-form Gareth Bale to contend with.
Expect by this stage that Martinez will need six points from his last four matches. They would have two away fixtures at West Brom and Arsenal and two at home against Swansea and Aston Villa in what could see them in yet another final day showdown.
West Brom are safe having secured 44 points already and still have an outside shot at European football. However, that is unlikely.
Latics could face a side that are content in their position, and therefore not playing in the mentality that every match is a "final," unlike Wigan who will have Martinez instilling this in his players. An opportunity for at least a point and perhaps a win is a definite possibility.
By the time they face Swansea at the DW a few days later, it could be a similar match as Swansea will probably have consolidated their position in mid-table.
Two teams with a similar playing philosophy will surely provide an entertaining game, but the home side will definitely be the more nervous. Three points will be a must, however, and that could see Wigan on 38, 39 or 40 points depending on their previous result.
A penultimate fixture away to Arsenal will be a tough ask to come away with anything, but fans can take hope that they won 2-1 at the Emirates in their amazing run of form last season.
So, presuming that Wigan will still require at least a point from their last game it looks very likely that when Paul Lambert’s Villa arrive in town the EPL will have a mouth-watering clash to decide who stays up and who goes down.