The Wigan Athletic manager Steve Bruce has urged his side to forget their poor run of form and return to winning ways at home to West Ham United tonight.
Bruce's side have not won in their past seven Premier League matches, and their 2-1 injury-time defeat to Chelsea at the weekend, coupled with a win for West Ham, moved Gianfranco Zola's team up to seventh place, a position that Wigan had held since the end of December. If Wigan end their winless streak at the JJB Stadium tonight, then the clubs will swap places again.
Wigan have not lost at home since Aston Villa inflicted a 4-0 defeat on 26 October, and that record gives Bruce a reason to be optimistic.
"It is always desperately disappointing when you lose in the manner we did at Chelsea," he said. "If you go down to Chelsea and get thumped 3-0 and they are the far better team then you hold your hands up, but Saturday was the complete opposite.
"When you get beat it is nice to play again quickly and try to make up for it. I would hope we can bounce back and get a good result against West Ham, that then sets us up nicely with 10 games to go. The result is important. We have an outstanding chance, because our home form has been good and we have been playing well of late and not just getting the win.
"The question is, can we get the win which will kick-start us on again? We have gone seven games without a win – I always knew January and February were going to be tough – and maybe with a bit more luck we could have come out with a few more points. But we are still in there. We are in the top 10 going into the last 10 or 11 games – so let's kick on."
Bruce is boosted by the return of winger Antonio Valencia and striker Mido, who have both missed the last two matches with hamstring and groin injuries respectively.
The manager believes that the injury to the Ecuador international, who has struggled over the last two months with the problem, has cost his side. "If we are being ultra-critical, we have lost that cutting edge," Bruce said. "But we have one or two players back, so that will allow us to freshen it up a bit. Our attacking options are better than we had at the weekend." The midfielders, Ben Watson (suspension) and Jason Koumas (thigh), also return to the Wigan squad, after missing the defeat at Stamford Bridge.
West Ham will be without Valon Behrami for the trip to Wigan. The midfielder was carried off the pitch on a stretcher after badly twisting his knee in Sunday's 1-0 win over Manchester City at Upton Park.
His absence offers an easy route back into the side for Mark Noble, who missed that match through suspension, but James Collins (hamstring), Luis Boa Morte (groin), Danny Gabbidon (stomach/back), Kieron Dyer (calf), and Dean Ashton (ankle) remain on the sidelines.Reuse content