By Aidan Elder | Chief sports writer
Wigan v Stoke
Saturday 3pm – DW Stadium
Maintaining the form of the end of last season is the trend for both of these teams in the new campaign. That’s good news for Wigan and their brand of Latiki-taka football, but it’s less encouraging for Stoke. Whilst Roberto Martinez was somehow able to turn his team into world-beaters as we got to the business end of the relegation scrap, Stoke had checked out for the summer holidays and they’ve yet to arrive home – mentally at least.
The Latics gave Chelsea more problems than UEFA’s Financial Fair Play rules on the opening weekend of the season and have since gone on to prove that performance was down to more than the Blues struggling. Convincing wins at Southampton and Nottingham Forest since suggest that the good form of last term is sustainable.
On the flipside of continuing last season’s form, it’s now a run of nine competitive games without a win for Stoke. Scratch beneath the surface and that stats isn’t as bleak as it suggest, but it can quickly become a rod to beat Tony Pulis with if it’s not remedied soon. Getting a point at Reading isn’t easy and holding Arsenal to a draw will always be seen as a decent result so maybe it’s far from being a crisis. No-one was too concerned about getting knocked out of the Capital One Cup by Swindon, but the fact that it was a strong Potters team with home advantage getting knocked out by a League 1 side does count as worrying.
Maybe they’ll shake that off with a typically robust performance against Wigan, but recent form has to have you siding with the hosts. At 9/4, Stoke are just about tempting enough a price to consider backing for a return to winning ways, but it’s a close call.
The ‘I don’t like giving predictions’ prediction: Wigan to win 2-1 at 8/1