Premier League Preview - Wigan Athletic
MANAGER: Roberto Martinez
STADIUM: DW Stadium (25138)
LAST SEASON: 15TH
The Houdini's of the Premier League, at one point Wigan Athletic were as certain as Wolves to drop through the trap door according to the bookies. Only a frankly stunning run of results dragged them from the mire and clear before the final day - a momentous achievement that once again gives credence to a stunning job by Roberto Martinez.
Wigan's excellent assault on safety can be attributed to many things, but Victor Moses and Hugo Rodallega must take a good share of the credit for their commendable displays under great pressure. The will that the Latics showed throughout the final part of the campaign will be etched in Premier League history.
IN: Arouna Kone (Levante, undisclosed), Ryo Miyaichi (Arsenal, loan), Ivan Ramis (Real Mallorca, undisclosed), Fraser Fyvie (Aberdeen, undisclosed)
OUT: Chris Kirkland (Sheffield Wednesday, free), Mohamed Diame (West Ham, free), Hugo Rodallega (Fulham, free), Hendry Thomas (released), Steve Gohouri (released), Jordan Robinson (released)
Matters will be made somewhat harder with the loss of Rodallega, the aforementioned fine performer of the last few seasons. While Moses has not moved on at the time of writing, the Latics will be hard pressed to fend off bids for the former Crystal Palace man - with Chelsea an interested party in the young forward.
They have however come through challenges before and continue to fight another day. To my mind the lower quarter of the division will be weaker, and that experience that Martinez and Wigan Athletic have will be invaluable in the run in to once again assure their safety and perhaps kick on a little further. Hopefully their emphasis on key players in the run-in last time out will not cost them this season.
KEY PLAYER: Arouna Kone
Kone has joined Wigan Athletic from £3.5m this summer and looks to fill the void left by Hugo Rodallega. He made his name in Holland with Roda JC and PSV Eindhoven before Sevilla paid a reported 12m euros for his services. The charismatic forward who is known for his blond top has made 35 appearances for the Ivory Coast.
He could be the difference maker for Wigan this season in a bid to once again avoid the drop. He will undoubtedly benefit from the services of Victor Moses if the Latics can hold onto the young wide-man long enough.
Hopefully their emphasis on key players in the run-in last time out will not cost them this season, with the squad already evidently weakened. Nevertheless Arouna Kone will be looking to impress in his first season in the Premier League and that could prove to be the next catalyst for the Latics survival drive.