Roberto Martinez's Wigan hit heights against Newcastle but climb is not over
Wigan 4 Newcastle 0
Saturday night and Sunday morning were the times for Wigan Athletic to enjoy one of the most impressive wins in the club's history at the conclusion of their best month in the Premier League. A more sober study of the league table, however, will reveal that the club are not out of the relegation woods, even if greener pastures are in sight.
A wonderful first 45 minutes against Newcastle United, the team of the moment, had even as grounded a figure as Roberto Martinez raving about "the pivotal month of the campaign" and even "a turning point in our entire history". The harsher fact is that, glorious as was Saturday's 4-0 win to follow victories in April over Manchester United and Arsenal (plus unlucky defeats at Chelsea and Fulham), Wigan are still three points clear of the relegation places.
Next up they play fellow strugglers and local rivals Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park, followed by the similarly adjacent Bolton Wanderers, who have a home game in hand.
Blackburn were the team against whom a ghastly run of eight successive Premier League defeats was finally ended with a 3-3 draw back in November, at a time when Wigan appeared condemned to a return to the Championship after seven seasons.
Martinez has changed half the side since then and on recent evidence one of the key factors has been the re-emergence of Shaun Maloney, the former Celtic and Aston Villa midfielder, who on Saturday scored one goal and was involved in all the others, with two for Victor Moses and another revitalised Latic, Franco Di Santo.
As well as crucial points, however, Martinez believes Wigan have crossed a psychological bridge. "When I arrived at this football club we had never beaten a top-four club," he said.
"There was that mental barrier. This season it was to be able to go to Stamford Bridge and Anfield and be ourselves and get results. In April, we had to deal with Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal and now Newcastle and to be able to get the results that we have – and for me it was a victory against Chelsea no matter what the scoreline says – it has been a massive, massive month."
For Newcastle the month had brought four straight wins without conceding a goal, so the first half on Saturday came as even more of a shock.
Papiss Cissé was unlucky not to continue his run of scoring in six successive games (all wins) and the Newcastle manager Alan Pardew is promising renewed determination at Chelsea on Wednesday.
Booked Wigan - Alcaraz, McCarthy. Newcastle - Simpson
Man of the match Maloney
Possession Wigan 53% Newcastle 47%
Attempts on target: Wigan 8 Newcastle 3
Referee M Dean (Wirral)
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