Wigan Athletic-Fulham Preview
LONDON (SE) - Wigan Athletic will be looking to move out of the Premier League relegation zone as they travel to Craven Cottage to play Fulham on Saturday afternoon.
Roberto Martinez's Wigan have picked up just four points from the last eight league games to slip into the bottom three on goal difference behind Southampton. However, with the Saints, Aston Villa and Newcastle all within two points of the Latics (5-3-13), there is still plenty of hope for the Premier League's perennial survivors, and Martinez is hopeful of strengthening his squad to help with the run-in.
"We are really strong in most of the areas, it's probably just one area where I would like to have extra cover because we have two competitions to fight for in the second half of the season," said Martinez. "It's important we don't leave ourselves open to the risk of an injury or suspension that could cost us points."
Saturday's hosts Fulham (6-6-9) have been in poor form in the league, but beat West Bromwich Albion on New Year's Day for just their second win in 13 games to pull clear of trouble at the foot of the table. The Cottagers followed up that result with a hard-earned draw against Blackpool in the FA Cup, and after that game, manager Martin Jol was full of praise for the recent impact of Greek midfielder Georgios Karagounis.
"He's been in the team now over the last three games and I told him he could play 60 minutes today because he played the other games," said Jol of Karagounis, who scored a spectacular late equaliser to ensure a replay against Blackpool. "I had to leave him on and I think he's not only a legend in his country, but he's a warrior for us.
"Of course, we had him outside of the transfer window, but I was very happy that he came here and he showed that today. Because, that is what you need. That is what we had, for example, with Clint Dempsey."
Fulham are without Mahamadou Diarra (knee) and Simon Davies (hip), while John Arne Riise (calf), Stephen Kelly (knee), Mark Schwarzer (neck), Mladen Petric (hamstring) and Damien Duff (calf) are doubtful. Wigan have doubts over Albert Crusat (knee) and Antolin Alcaraz (groin), but Adrian Lopez (hamstring), Ryo Miyaichi (ankle) and Ben Watson (broken leg) are out.
The Cottagers have won just one of their last six games at home in the Premier League and have failed to keep a clean sheet in any of those matches. They started the season by conceding in just one of their first four matches at Craven Cottage.
Wigan have yet to draw on the road this season, winning three and losing seven away from home. Striker Arouna Kone has at least a goal or an assist in his last three Premier League matches away from the DW Stadium.
These teams met at the DW Stadium back in September, with Fulham winning 2-1 on goals from former Latic Hugo Rodallega and Damien Duff. The Cottagers are unbeaten in their last 12 games against Wigan, winning five of the last six meetings. The Latics' last win over Fulham was a 1-0 victory back in 2006.