In a battle of the teams aiming to escape relegation trouble, Wigan Athletic host Southampton at the DW Stadium on Saturday.
Wigan haven’t won in the league since a 3-0 triumph against Aston Villa before the turn of the year, with two losses and two draws, including a 2-2 draw against Stoke City on Tuesday, which left them in 18th position.
Two spots above and three points ahead of Wigan are Southampton, who have acquitted themselves well in clashes against Chelsea and Manchester United since new manager Mauricio Pochettino took over from the sacked Nigel Adkins.
Alex Ferguson said despite his United side winning 2-1, Southampton’s second-half performance was the best of any team this season at Old Trafford – perhaps a testament to Pochettino settling in well at his new club.
Wigan and Southampton have only ever met once before as this is the first time they have played in the same division together and have never met in any domestic cup.
Their previous encounter was in late August, when Wigan won 2-0 at Southampton – Franco Di Santo and Arouna Kone the goal scorers.
Wigan have had no outstanding marksman this season, with Kone (six), Di Santo (five) and Jordi Gomez (three) scoring 14 of their 27 goals.
Three players, Shaun Maloney, Jean Beausejour and Kone, have contributed five assists for Roberto Martinez’s side this season, demonstrating shared responsibilities in the creativity department as well.
Since the shock sacking of Adkins, Southampton have played well in two clashes under Pochettino, including the impressive display at Old Trafford, where they bossed the home side in the second half – but nevertheless, they are yet to win under the Argentine.
Targetman Rickie Lambert has had a superb season, hitting double figures in goals for the fourth-year running and will be a huge threat to the Wigan defence from crosses and set-pieces.
Martinez will be without Spanish full-back Ivan Ramis (knee), Ben Watson (broken leg) and Arsenal-loanee Ryo Miyaichi (ankle), who are three players that would start if they were fit.
Jose Fonte and Guly Do Prado will both miss the match through knee injuries – Portuguese centre-back Fonte the big loss having played 20 times for the south-coast club this term.
A win for Wigan will see them climb out of the relegation zone and draw level with Southampton on points, while their opponents can put pressure on Norwich City and Newcastle United by clinching the three points.