Shaun Maloney’s last gasp equaliser ensured the Latics left Loftus
Road with a share of spoils after a disappointing
performance which saw them struggle against ten man QPR.
The Latics were unable to make their extra man advantage
count following Bobby Zamora’s red card for his high challenge on Jordi Gomez
that caught the Spaniard full on in the head.
It seemed that Roberto Martinez men looked set to pay the
ultimate price for their inability to break down their hosts, when Loic Remy
sensationally smashed home past Joel Robles with only six minutes left.
After enduring a frustrating afternoon the Latics looked set
to bring an end to their recent unbeaten run when Maynor Figueroa’s free kick
was charged down by Stephane Mbia, who then ran the length of the field to feed
Remy, who side footed home from 25 yards.
It was only then that there seemed to be any immediate
urgency about the Latics play and they took full advantage of Mbia’s needless
challenge on Maloney. The Scottish international picked himself up to lift the
ball over the wall and into the back of the net to break QPR hearts, and surely
putting an end to their own great escape.
Despite the point the Latics are now in the bottom three and
will return to league action with two games in hand on their direct rivals.
The hosts headed into the game knowing they had to win to
have any chance of pulling themselves out of danger and started the brightest
striking the upright inside the opening ten minutes.
The momentum of the game quickly changed once Zamora
left referee Phil Dowd with no option but to show the red card after a brief discussion
with his assistant.
The Latics took control of the play from then and they
finally began to threaten, but were unable to create any clear cut chances.
Wigan continued to press without much
joy and James McArthur spurned a golden opportunity when his free header was too
easy for Julio Cesar. Shortly after came the QPR sucker punch and it looked as
if the Latics recent unbeaten run would come to an end, but the goal kicked new
life into the visitors and they punished their hosts at the death and surely in
the process condemning them to relegation.
Up next for Roberto Martinez’s men is their historic FA Cup
semi final against Millwall on Saturday evening at Wembley, before they resume league action away to the current league champions Manchester City.
The Latics head
down to Loftus
on Sunday afternoon in what is a crucial encounter that could see them cut
their hosts adrift in the fight for survival.
After securing crucial back to back home league wins the Latics now face three trips on the road
in the league that will go a long way in deciding their fate.
men will be confident of continuing their impressive recent run away from the
DW, which has seen them defeated only once in nine, since their Boxing Day
defeat at Everton.
Sunday’s clash presents
the perfect opportunity for the Latics to kill off the QPR revival. Harry
Redknapp’s fell to their second defeat in a row on Monday evening against
Fulham, where they paid the ultimate price for a catastrophic first half
have seen the Latics return to the drop zone but are only one point adrift of Sunderland.
seasons the Latics know that if they do their own job they will secure top
flight football for a ninth consecutive season. Their recent form has seen a
number of clubs above them being dragged into the dog fight and unlike many the
Latics are seasoned relegation fighters.
Places in the
starting XI for next week’s cup semi final against Millwall are up for grabs
and Martinez will be looking to use this as motivation on Sunday: “We know that playing at Wembley is a unique experience,
but we see that as something to enjoy and look forward while understanding the
real importance is the league.”
go hand in hand, and success in one helps to bring success in the other. The
competition for places is as strong as it’s ever been. That brings confidence
and a real desire for every game you play.”
international Arouna Kone has impressed hugely following his stint at the
African Cup of Nations, and has netted four in last four games including the
crucial late winners against Newcastle and Norwich.
Kone looks to be
the key man in the run in and will once again lead the line as Martinez looks set to stick with the same XI for the
fourth consecutive game.
The form of Antolin
Alcaraz has been a huge bonus for Martinez, since his return from a long lay off the
Paraguayan international has provided crucial security at the heart of the
defence alongside Paul Scharner.
The performances of on loan keeper Joel Robles has come as a breath of fresh air for the Latics as he has repaid the faith shown in by Martinez.
With Wembley on the
horizon fans will be looking to enjoy their weekend in the spotlight, without
worrying too much about matters in the league. Martinez has targeted ten points from his side’s
final eight matches and three points at Loftus Road would once again ease the pressure on the
Latics and turn up the heat on their rivals.