Fulham take on Red Hot Wigan at the Cottage
Once thought to be a relatively easy three points at home has turned into a difficult assignment as the Whites host the hottest team in the Premier League at Craven Cottage. Wigan has transformed their season that once appeared to be doomed to the point where survival looks to be inevitable.
Wigan sat on 22 points the morning of March 24th. A glance at the schedule and it was easy to see why they looked like they wouldn't escape the drop this time around (the Latics left it to the final day last season). However, they won at Liverpool that afternoon and it sparked a terrific run of play. The next four matches following the win at Anfield included a home win versus Stoke, a controversial one goal loss at Chelsea, a clean sheet win over Manchester United, and Monday night's away win at Arsenal. Those 12 points in 5 matches have the Latics clicking on the heels of Aston Villa for 15th place in the Premier League table.
Wigan manager Roberto Martinez has to be given a huge amount of credit for keeping a team that isn't well supported at the gates (the rugby team is a much bigger draw) or funded (Chairman Dave Whelan has publicly stated that the long term health of the club is more important than overspending to stay up). However, the Latics are not devoid of talent by any means. Gary Caldwell anchors the defense and is a tough customer. James McArthur is Wigan's Danny Murphy and drives the engine. Victor Moses tortured Arsenal's Sagna all night and is a handful. Jordi Gomez and Franco DiSanto scored the goals at the Emirates and will be looking to do the same at the Cottage.
Fulham will be coming into the match well rested and hopefully a little bit healthier. The Whites' supporters will have their fingers crossed that Pavel Pogrebnyak will be back on the pitch so Clint Dempsey can be freed of the hold up duties. Fulham comes into the match on a bit of a roll themselves as the team has played quite well after the embarrassing performance against Swansea. A difficult to swallow 1 goal loss at Old Trafford was followed by wins over Norwich and Bolton. The last time out came the draw against Chelsea where the Whites played some great football.
The two teams played at the JJB Stadium on October 29 where Fulham grabbed a rare 0-2 away win. In that match Dempsey scored the first against the run of play late in the first half. In what is the strangest stat of the Fulham season, the terrific Moussa Dembele scored his lone Prem goal of the term to finish the match off. Given how good his overall play has been it's mind boggling that Moose hasn't found the back of the net more often.
A month ago, the prediction would have been a comfortable win at the Cottage, but in order to grab the three points Fulham will need to put in a quality shift. In an entertaining and tense affair the home side will grab a late winner and the spoils 2-1.