The Inside Track: Wigan
Latics reporter Paul Kendrick helps preview FA Cup quarter-final.
Everton are 90 minutes away from the FA Cup semi-finals with Wigan Athletic the only obstacle stopping the Blues from reaching Wembley for the fourth time in as many seasons.
The two teams battle for a place in the competition’s last four this Saturday – but what can David Moyes and co expect from their Lancashire opponents?
Will it be the side that bulldozed Reading 3-0 at the Madejski Stadium or the team that were destroyed 4-0 at home by Liverpool at the weekend?
Reporter Paul Kendrick, who covers the Latics for the Wigan Observer and Evening Post, offers evertonfc.com the inside track.
What kind of Wigan team can we expect to line up against Everton on Saturday lunchtime?
The big dilemma is what the manager does with his team. Roberto Martinez has been able to rotate in the previous rounds but, with the greatest respect, they would have been expected to have won those games, even with a so-called weakened team.
Playing against a top Premier League team like Everton is a completely different kettle of fish. He has got to balance the precarious league position with a desire to reach the last four of the FA Cup for the first time.
It’s something that will definitely give a great deal of thought to this week and it will be interesting to see whether he will stick with the team that got them this far or elects to bring in one or two of his senior professionals.
Antolin Alcaraz returned from injury last weekend so I think he will start, possibly with Shaun Maloney as well. But I do believe he will be loyal to the team that got him here including the likes of Callum McManaman, who is a boyhood Everton fan, Jordi Gomez and Roman Golobart.
How seriously do you think Wigan will take Saturday’s tie, bearing in mind that they are only out of the Premier League’s relegation zone on goal difference?
Obviously the Premier League is the be all and end all, but having got this far and being within 90 minutes of Wembley, they would be stupid to write it off and not take it seriously. The 11 players who step out know they are so close to getting to Wembley and that’s a massive motivation.
I wouldn’t have thought any of the current first team have played at Wembley. When you put that carrot in front of players, even the experienced ones, it can bring big performances out of people.
Martinez' three-man defence looked porous against Liverpool. Will he stick with it?
Yes, I think he will go with that. He has stuck with that since the end of last season. The personnel has changed but the formation has stayed the same. I think it will be three in defence, four in midfield and two players behind the frontman.
What did you make of the handbags involving Emmerson Boyce and James McArthur against Liverpool?
It was a funny one. Team spirit has always been fundamental to what Wigan have done under Roberto so it was a bit strange to see that. I suppose when the pressure is on at the bottom of the league that sort of thing can happen.
It is perhaps not quite sending out the right message to relegation rivals who are looking at that and thinking that all is not well at Wigan, but it’s been glossed over and there have been handshakes to sort it out.
I’m led to believe that it has been forgotten pretty quickly and that everyone is fully focused on attacking the rest of the season as one.
How do you see the tie going and what are your predictions?
Everything is pointing towards an Everton win. They are at home and will really fancy trying to get a trophy for David Moyes.
But I have just got a sneaky feeling that Wigan’s weekend result against Liverpool will bring the lads together. There will be a siege mentality this week, plus all the expectation is on Everton.
I think it might just be 2-1 to Wigan.