Wigan’s Premier League survival hopes look slimmer
Wigan’s Premier League survival hopes took a major hit by losing 3-2 at home to Swansea on Tuesday, while Manchester City secured its place in next season’s Champions League with a 1-0 win over West Bromwich Albion.
Escaping the bottom three looks a tall order for Wigan now after twice surrendering the lead at DW Stadium, with Dwight Tiendalli grabbing the 76th-minute winner for Swansea in a helter-skelter second half.
Wigan, which has escaped relegation on the final day in three of the last six seasons, is three points from safety with two games left - one of which is away at Arsenal.
“We have never thrown the towel in at this football club and we won’t do it this time round,” Wigan manager Roberto Martinez said.
“There are still many twists and turns ... but obviously today was fantastic opportunity.”
City, which plays Wigan in the FA Cup final on Saturday, was celebrating another season of Champions League football after Edin Dzeko’s 35th-minute winner at Etihad Stadium. It guaranteed the deposed champions, who fielded a largely second-string lineup with this weekend in mind, a top-three finish.
“It was a difficult game because we changed a lot of players, but it was important for us to win the game,” City manager Roberto Mancini said.
The two Robertos couldn’t be heading to Wembley in more different mindsets.
While Mancini has a fresh and largely fully fit squad to call upon and no more worries in the league, Martinez has a whole host of injuries - and the very real prospect of relegation - to contend with.
Defender Ronnie Stam sustaining a suspected broken leg after almost his first touch of the ball capped a frustrating night for Wigan that began so brightly with Roger Espinoza volleying home the opening goal in first-half injury time.
Wigan needed victory to climb clear of the bottom three and dump Newcastle into the relegation zone but fell apart after the break, even though James McCarthy regained the lead for the hosts in the 53rd after Angel Rangel had volleyed Swansea level three minutes earlier.
A defensive error by Gary Caldwell was pounced on by Itay Shechter in the 59th for Swansea’s second equalizer before Wigan pair Shaun Maloney and James McArthur collided trying to clear a cross, allowing Tiendalli the chance to sweep home a close-range finish.
“You have to accept we shot ourselves in the foot,” said Martinez, who used to manager Swansea. “After the second goal, you felt the players could not be themselves. The dressing room is really down.
“We have done it [survived against the odds] before and we can do it now - we can go anywhere in the Premier League and get the points.”
Wigan doesn’t play Arsenal until next Tuesday, by which time its three-point deficit to Newcastle, Norwich and Sunderland could have grown.
The likes of Vincent Kompany, Sergio Aguero, Pablo Zabaleta and Yaya Toure were all rested by Mancini for the visit of West Brom but it didn’t backfire, with Dzeko making amends for a number of missed chances by his teammates by guiding home a volley after good work by Carlos Tevez.