We’ve finally done it! A place in the Champions League semi-finals is ours. The victory last night against Benfica has set up the prospect of a seriously tough run of games and it all starts at the Bridge on Saturday. Wigan are clearly light years apart from our following opponents Spurs and the champions of Europe Barcelona but nevertheless we cannot afford to drop points against them.
Wigan Athletic didn’t win in the whole of January but since the start of February they have only lost once to Swansea at home. Other than that they remain undefeated which includes impressive results winning away at Bolton and Liverpool and beating Stoke at home. I am one of Roberto Martinez’s biggest fans, I think what he has done at this tiny club is very impressive. I also believe that he is a big factor in the current success of Swansea City as it was he who laid the blueprints. He is a good manager and his team have produced shocks against big teams before (who can ever forget Arsene Wenger’s face as he watched his team lose their two goal advantage?) and we shouldn’t take them for granted. I am well aware of our record against Wigan but let us not forget that we drew there earlier this season.
Despite wary warnings we should be beating Wigan at home and it is important that we do so because of the tightness at the top of the table. I’d be the first to admit that I never saw Newcastle coming but Alan Pardew has done an amazing job and aside from Paul Lambert and Brendan Rodgers he is surely the contender for manager of the year. Regardless of their surprise factor they are here and are serious challengers to the coveted fourth place. They still have to come to Bridge and that could be a vital game but with four teams chasing two spots it is clear that every point is crucial. We know our key games are away to Fulham, Arsenal and Liverpool so we need to take maximum points at home against QPR, Newcastle, Blackburn and on Saturday against Wigan. I believe we can beat Barcelona but it will be a huge ask and therefore gaining entrance back into the Champions League via winning the competition is going to be tricky so finishing fourth is vital.
As well as our quest for fourth place we also need to consider the importance of momentum. We have 6 games in 15 days which is going to be a huge drain on the squad. We need to believe that we can win all these games and in order to do this we need to gain as much momentum as possible. Winning is a habit and RDM has got us into this habit, he has lost only once since he took over.
Taking six points in the Premier League and securing our place in the FA Cup final will be the perfect warm up for Barcelona and I know that CFC is more than up for it.