We are once again in a position of playing catch up as we take the field after Tottenham have posted an expected victory yesterday over Portsmouth, and trailing by five points know that coming out of the game with all three points is imperative.
With Aston Villa collapsing at Chelsea, I think you can put a fork in them as far as their fourth place hopes go (especially with an FA Cup semi-final to focus on) but Liverpool posted an impressive earlier today to keep up the pressure and it does appear that everything is building up to that re-arranged game with Tottenham on May 5th.
Past performance is of course not necessarily a guide to future returns, but it is worth looking at quite how bad our record is against Wigan since they arrived in the Premier League:
Total P9 W1 D3 L5 F7 A14
Home P4 W1 D1 L2 F1 A2
It doesn't bode well for a classic does it?
Roberto Mancini has not been one for maintaining consistency with his team selection, both in terms of personnel and formation, but it would not be a huge surprise (perhaps depending on Stephen Ireland's fitness) to see him revert to a 4-4-2 - particularly with Emmanuel Adebayor now available following his suspension.
Of the 13 games in the league that Mancini has been in charge for, with the exception of the 0-0 draw against Liverpool, we have taken the lead in six games and gone behind in six games. Of the six where we have scored first, we have a 100% record, contrasting this is winning just one of the six (drawing two and losing three) of the games where he have conceded first.
No doubting the importance of the first goal then. This is particularly so when you consider that Wigan have shipped 59 goals this season, and have a tendancy to suffer some heavy defeats. They have also only scored six goals in the last eleven games so confidence in front of goal is equally an issue for them.
Whilst there may be nerves in the side knowing how vital a win is, this hopefully translates to a fast paced and positive start as we look to seal the game by half-time. Wigan have shown a capability to come away with the odd surprise result this season, yet I think necessity will be the deciding factor as we come away with a 3-1 victory - with Carlos Tevez maintaining his record of not losing in the league when he has scored for us.