Roberto Martinez desperate for Wigan to end Fulham jinx
Latics travel to west London tomorrow
Friday 11 January 2013
Roberto Martinez is hoping a change of fortune will help Wigan end their dreadful run against Fulham tomorrow - but has told his team they will need to earn it.
The Latics' last win over the Cottagers came at Craven Cottage in 2006, since when they have met 12 times, with Wigan picking up only six points.
They have lost their last three games against Martin Jol's side, most recently a 2-1 home defeat in September.
Wigan go into the match in the relegation zone and, asked if it is a must-win game, boss Martinez said with a smile: "It you look at our previous record at Craven Cottage, I think it will be very difficult to see how.
"But I do feel the last three games we've played against Fulham we've been very unfortunate. It's hard to explain how we lost the previous two games at the DW Stadium.
"The last game we had at Craven Cottage it was a very late deadball situation, and after getting ourselves in front we couldn't get a positive result.
"The approach is very clear. We need to be playing well enough and work hard enough to make sure we become a lucky team on Saturday."
A run of only one point from six games during November and December, which coincided with an injury crisis, saw Wigan drop into the bottom three.
And, although they got back to winning ways with an impressive 3-0 victory at Aston Villa on December 29, a heavy home defeat by Manchester United last time out dropped them back into the relegation zone, albeit only on goal difference from Southampton.
Martinez can see plenty of positive signs, though, and said: "It's not frustrating, it's a challenge. We know why we're there.
"The important step now to take is how we're going to change that situation and how we're going to make sure we can carry on performing in the manner we have in the majority of games this season.
"Our performances have improved in terms of the consistency we've shown from last season. It's true we need to affect both boxes better, we cannot keep conceding two goals in a game when teams have only three shots on target.
"Those small aspects are reflected in the scorelines and that's the next piece of work for the second half of the season. But I do feel every day we're stronger, we're getting bodies back, and we're really excited to look forward to the rest of the season."
The good news for Martinez is the injury situation is easing all the time, and his squad has been bolstered by the January additions of Roger Espinoza and Angelo Henriquez.
Teenage striker Henriquez, a loan signing from Manchester United, impressed as a substitute in the FA Cup third-round tie against Bournemouth last weekend, while Espinoza should play some part tomorrow.
The Honduras international, signed from Sporting Kansas City, stayed on the bench for the 1-1 draw with the Cherries having only arrived in the UK two days before but now has a week's training under his belt.
Martinez said: "I've been very impressed with Roger's fitness levels.
"He was involved in the cup because I wanted him to be ready to enjoy the match experience and get used to the environment of the DW Stadium but I knew I couldn't use him because he'd just arrived on the Thursday night and he'd only had one training session. It would have been a stupid risk.
"It's going to take a little bit for him to get up to the needs of playing in this league but he's growing quickly and he's someone that's going to have an important say this season."
Defender Adrian Lopez (hamstring) and midfielders Ben Watson (broken leg), Albert Crusat (knee) and Ryo Miyaichi (ankle) are all some way away but centre-back Antolin Alcaraz is back to full fitness after a long-term groin injury and close to a comeback.
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