No one expected Wigan Athletic to survive in the English Premier League for another year. Not when they had lost eight games in a row between 10th September and 6th November. Not when they were in the relegation zone for 26 consecutive game-weeks. Not when they have scored just 39 times and conceded 60 times.
Considering these facts, Wigan manager Roberto Martinez has pulled off a miraculous escape from the jaws of relegation. Miraculous because they have beaten Liverpool, Manchester United, Arsenal, Newcastle United, Stoke City and Blackburn Rovers. In doing so, they have also changed the
Three of those teams are in the top five of the league and Liverpool, despite their really bad form, are not an easy team to beat -- something that Chelsea found out last night.
Wigan's form in their last eight matches has been instrumental not only in their own survival, but also in the race for the EPL title and Champions League qualification. The way they played against Manchester United set the tone for Manchester City to try and overhaul the reigning champions and their wins against Arsenal and Newcastle have renewed Tottenham's hopes of breaking into the top four yet again.
Won 2-1 vs Liverpool on 24th March, 2011: After nine weeks sitting rock-bottom, Wigan visited Anfield to better their 0-0 draw in the reverse fixture. Liverpool were playing like Wigan in the early stages and Wigan were playing as if they had just one thing in mind: register their first win at Anfield. After Luis Suarez cancelled out Shaun Maloney's penalty, it was Gary Caldwell's finish that lifted his team to 19th.
Won 2-0 vs Stoke City on 31st March, 2011: Probably this was the match which really gave them some belief. They controlled the match from the off and a goal from Antolin Alcaraz and Victor Moses sealed consecutive wins for Wigan for the first time this season.
Lost 1-2 vs Chelsea on 7th April, 2011: A little bit of a glitch in their survival battle, but it was sheer luck that Chelsea won this match. Martinez believed his side were 'robbed' and that he was 'disgusted' with the officials. A couple of offside decisions weren't noticed and that was probably the only reason Wigan lost this.
Won 1-0 vs Manchester United on 11th April, 2011: This was the game which condemned United to a bad run and maybe give up an eight-point lead. Wigan played like the champs in this one as United were pegged back all game before Maloney curled a beauty from 20 yards out. This was the first time they had beaten United in 14 attempts.
Won 2-1 vs Arsenal on 16th April, 2011: Two quick goals in the 7th and 8th minutes were enough to lift Wigan out of the relegation zone after a dream-run. Arsenal had no answer to their gritty defence and Martinez knew he was on the verge of a historic escape.
Lost 1-2 vs Fulham on 21st April, 2011: Again a very close fight as Wigan were suddenly in-form even on the road. Wigan's goals were coming from all over the park as Emerson Boyce scored this time, only for Phillip Senderos and Pavel Pogrebnyak scored for Fulham.
Won 4-0 vs Newcastle on 28th April, 2011: One can say Wigan came of age after this win and could aim for a better finish next season. Thrashing the Magpies 4-0 was nothing short of a stunning result which took the EPL by storm. Maloney and Moses were the heroes again as Franco Di Santo squeezed in a goal too.
Won 1-0 vs Blackburn Rovers on 7th May, 2011: A match which saw one of the most memorable resurgences and one of the most drastic downfalls. Rovers were relegated after 11 years in the top flight, but for Wigan...their players had pulled off a great recovery.
With Roberto Martinez's leadership never in question, Wigan's management have displayed how sticking with a quality manager can really make a difference.
In Wigan, one sees how quickly football can change. One sees how determination can win you games and transform teams. One sees an ugly facet of humanity displayed in what we call the beautiful game.
One sees survival against the odds.
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Updated Date: May 09, 2012 14:01:19 IST