After four weeks away from the DW Stadium, Roberto Martinez is excited at the prospect of once again performing in familiar surroundings when Latics take on Tottenham Hotspur this weekend.
Wigan Athletic have taken six points from their last two home games against Newcastle United and Norwich City, but not picked up a win in the three away games that followed (v QPR, Manchester City and West Ham United) despite good performances overall.
With five league games remaining in the campaign, Martinez hopes his players can continue their solid form at the DW Stadium which he feels will be key to the team’s Premier League survival:
“It’s been a bizarre period in the season with four consecutive games away from home in different competitions, and right now we need that home comfort from the DW Stadium,” said Martinez.
“It’s that time of the season once again that we’re all familiar with at our club; the games become even more significant and the need for points is very real, so we need the help of our fans this weekend.
“The fans that have been travelling to our away games in recent weeks have been magnificent and we have to thank them for their efforts because I can only imagine how difficult it’s been for them making those journeys.
“Now I think we’re all looking forward to getting back to our home and being as good as we can be against Tottenham.
“We’ve had highs and lows since our last home match against Norwich City, but there has been a consistency in our performances, and that’s important.
“We’re showing the knowhow on the pitch when it comes to doing what is necessary to win a game; the last two displays against Manchester City and West Ham United were fantastic.
“Taking the chances we are creating is the next step, but if we continue with these levels then the results will come, I’m confident of that.”
Antolin Alcaraz is ruled out for this weekend’s clash with a soft tissue injury and whilst the Gaffer gave an indication on the Paraguayan’s likely return he was also hopeful of seeing Ben Watson back on the pitch soon, explaining:
“Antolin is recovering well as you can imagine, but it’s still too early to know for sure how long he’ll be missing for.
“One positive is that it’s not looking as bad as we first feared, so we believe he’ll be back before the end of the season, hopefully in around three weeks’ time.
“It’s a big negative because we don’t want anyone missing out during this period, but it does mean that at some point we’ll have Antolin coming back feeling fresh for the challenges we’ve got.
“Ben Watson has been recovering very well lately; to be in a position now where he is training with the team once again is quite magnificent to be honest.
“We didn’t expect him to be back before the end of the season when he suffered his injury at Anfield back in November, but the way he has pushed himself to get this point is incredible and it will be great to have another pair of fresh legs very soon.
“Elsewhere, everyone else has recovered well from a demanding period and they’re all desperate to play their part in this weekend’s game against a team like Spurs.”
Three points on Saturday would not only move Latics out of the relegation zone, but also complete a league double over Andre Villas-Boas’ side this season, following their 1-0 win at White Hart Lane back in November.
Martinez referenced on that game in the capital as an example of what is needed to take a result from the Champions League hopefuls:
“We’ll have to be perfect; our game against Tottenham at White Hart Lane serves as a perfect example of what we need to do if we’re to win the game.
“The only way you can compete against a team like Spurs is by being strong in every single department.
“We all know how strong a group of players Andre Villas-Boas has to select from and as a team they are dangerous; quick on the counter-attack and good at finding spaces.
“They’re serious contenders for a place in the Champions League qualification spots so we know the size of the challenge ahead of us, but we have to focus on ourselves and what we can do playing at our home with our fans behind us.
“This is one of three home games we have remaining this season and we must relish these opportunities, share the important feelings with the fans and do everything we can to achieve our aims.
“We’ve shown our best levels in recent weeks but just need to do a little bit more in both penalty areas. If we do that we’ll be competitive against anyone.”