24th January 2014
Reigning champions Wigan Athletic aim to put the weekend’s 3-0 defeat to Doncaster behind them and ensure progress into the next round of the FA Cup as they prepare to host revived Crystal Palace. Buoyed by some excellent results in the Premier League, the Eagles will fancy their chances of winning at DW Stadium, with boss Tony Pulis having vowed to ‘have a go at Wigan’.
Wigan Athletic were somewhat unfortunate to get relegated from the Premier League just a week after famously beating Manchester City to the FA Cup trophy and they struggled to recover from the heavy blow. Owen Coyle left the club by mutual agreement in December following some disappointing results, and the team in turn showed a great deal of improvement under new boss Uwe Rosler. An eight-match winning run saw the Latics seriously improve their league position, while they recovered well from the 3-3 FA Cup draw against MK Dons to win the replay 3-1. And even though the good run came to an end at the weekend as Wigan were soundly beaten by Doncaster, the Latics look they can make life difficult for their Premier League opponents. Wigan’s last four games have produced a total of 16 goals and with their Crystal Palace also expected to adopt a positive approach at DW Stadium, chances are we will see a very open game. Shaun Maloney, Ivan Ramis and Gary Caldwell are all unavailable, but new signings Josh McEachran, Nicky Maynard and Tyias Browining should be in the side.
Stoke chiefs must be regretting their decision to sack Tony Pulis despite taking the Potters to the Premier League and turning the club into genuine mid table side, with the experienced coach now working wonders with Crystal Palace. The Eagles are not only recording some excellent results that have seriously boosted their survival hopes, but they are also playing attractive attacking football, and it is fair to say nobody knew Tony Pulis had that in him. The weekend’s victory over the Welshman’s former employers saw the Eagles finally leave the bottom three, although they obviously cannot afford to relax just yet. Having eliminated West Brom in the previous round, Crystal Palace will give their best to continue their FA Cup campaign, but Tony Pulis knows better than to field his strongest side mere three days ahead of the relegation six-pointer against Hull City. We will again see a host of changes to the starting line-up, but one should not forget that it was the second-string line-up that enjoyed a 2-0 triumph over the Baggies. The boss has hinted Dwight Gayle and Paddy McCarthy will play some part, but Jack Hunt and Jerome Thomas continue to miss out.
Wigan will want to continue their title defence as well as make amends for the 3-0 loss to Doncaster, and they certainly won’t be afraid to attack their opponents from the off. Meanwhile, Crystal Palace are expected to adopt an attacking approach as well, but wholesale changes are likely to have a negative effect on their back line. Therefore, we could see goals galore at DW Stadium.
Verdict: Over 2.5 goals
Best Odds: 11/10
Bookmaker: William Hill