Roberto Martinez has called on fans and players alike to make the final home game of 2012 a special one, when Arsenal arrive at the DW Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
It’s been another history-making twelve months for Wigan Athletic, with memorable goals and nail-biting victories entertaining fans, and the Spaniard wants this weekend’s match to encapsulate the excitement of the past year, saying:
“We respect and admire the opposition, but Saturday is about what we can do and how well we can perform to enjoy the last game of 2012 at the DW Stadium. It’s been a tremendous year of football and we want to finish it the best possible way.
“I’m sure the fans have seen a very committed group of players trying to give everything on the pitch and fighting for one another on the pitch.
“They’re desperate to win and to give the fans something back, and I think that chemistry between the two elements of the club is as strong as it has ever been this year – there’s a real sense of understanding and knowing how to cope with what is being asked of us and it needs to be strong again this weekend.
“I predict an open and exciting game this weekend, and from our point-of-view a game we feel we’re in real need of taking three points from.
“They (Arsenal) were impressive against Reading; the way they moved the ball and opened up the opposition shows how strong they are.
“You can see how well the new signings have adapted to the league and what is required of them, the likes of Lukas Podolski and Santi Cazorla were at their best in representing the style Arsenal have always had.”
Injuries and suspensions have been the big talking-point for Latics over the past month, but Martinez revealed that the squad seem to be over the worst of the situation:
“We have a group of players with a short-term absence which includes James McCarthy, Gary Caldwell, Antolin Alcaraz and Ivan Ramis. They’ve been recovering very well in the last two-three days and they’ve got a chance but it’s too early to say whether they’ll be ready for this weekend’s match – I expect them to return over the next two or three games.
“Although it’ll take some of them a little time to readjust to the tempo and demands of the game, I’m confident that in one way or another they’ll be involved over the Christmas period of games.
“It looks as though we’re over the worst this situation has thrown at us in the past month, even dealing with the suspension of Maynor Figueroa in between.
“We can start looking forward now and once the full squad is fit again we’ll have these experiences to call upon, when the whole squad can share responsibilities and help each other on the pitch.
“One thing that has pleased me is that we haven’t dropped our standards during this time, our performances have been very competitive and the football concepts haven’t changed.
“The truth is that at times we’ve conceded soft goals which have cost us results but overall we’ve accelerated the roles of certain players in the squad and in the long term that will be very beneficial even if it doesn’t seem so at the moment.”