x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Landmark 150th match for Wigan manager Roberto Martinez against Swansea

Victory will take the Latics out of the Premier League's bottom three and boost survival chances.

Roberto Martinez hopes to mark his 150th Premier League game in charge of Wigan by taking three points against Swansea. Alex Livesey / Getty Images
Roberto Martinez hopes to mark his 150th Premier League game in charge of Wigan by taking three points against Swansea. Alex Livesey / Getty Images

Wigan Athletic, the Premier League's great escapologists, will aim to perform their latest Houdini act by beating Swansea City and climbing out of the relegation zone.

The third-from-bottom club have been perennial strugglers since being promoted to the top flight for the first time in 2005, and manager Roberto Martinez is looking to mark his 150th game in charge by taking three points off visitors Swansea.

"I never really take much notice of landmarks, but 150 games in the Premier League ... fills me with immense pride," the Spaniard told the club's website. "This football club is an incredible place for me and always will be. I'm proud to reach that landmark, but it's important we mark it with a good performance and three points."

Wigan tend to produce late-season surges and this year has been no different, with Saturday's 3-2 victory at West Bromwich Albion providing evidence that confidence is high among the squad.

"It's certainly pleasing to see a real continuity in our performances," Martinez said. "The last four games have seen displays of the highest order and that's when you need to take three points.

"We are not viewing Tuesday's game simply as a chance to move out of the bottom three. Each week, the table has its twists and turns, so for me the only thing to focus on is the opportunity to add more points to our tally."

Wigan, who will meet Manchester City in the FA Cup final at Wembley on Saturday, have 35 points with three league games to go.

Martinez's men were two points behind Sunderland, who hosted Stoke City last night, and three adrift of Newcastle United and Norwich City. Wigan have a goal difference of -22 compared to Newcastle's -23 and Norwich's -22. A win over Swansea would put them ahead of both those teams.

Injury problems continue to dog Wigan, with midfielder Jean Beasejour ruled out of the game, and probably the FA Cup final, with a hamstring strain.

Paraguay centre-back Antolin Alcaraz is unlikely to return for the game after being sidelined by a similar injury. Another key defender, Maynor Figueroa, will miss the remainder of the season.

Martinez is hoping his diminutive match-winner Shaun Maloney can pull a couple more performances out of the bag to save the club from relegation - even if it means he loses the winger as a result in the summer.

The 5ft 7ins Scotland international has been one of the team's star performers this season and set up two goals in the win at West Brom.

"Shaun Maloney is a player who could have been born in any other country in terms of the technical ability and the quality he has," said Martinez.

"When he first joined us, he took a little bit of a time to get used to the pace of the league but he's been magnificent and very consistent since he started playing regularly.

"I feel Shaun is a player who can play in any team, he has the quality of any other top player in that position. He is someone who can find space - he finds it so natural to turn - and players who can drive into space is a real strength to break things down. I would never be surprised if a club with more tradition looks at him but that's a compliment to us."

Swansea's manager Michael Laudrup is expecting Wigan to be fired up.

The Dane said: "I know they have the cup final coming up on the weekend, but we are talking about a team fighting for their football life. They will come at us with everything they have."

* Agencies

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