May 11, 2013

Wigan’s Date with Destiny – FA Cup Final Preview

fa cupBy Mark Rawlinson

May 11th 2013 is the biggest date in Wigan Athletic’s history as they play in the FA Cup Final for the first time.

It has already been a record-breaking season for the Lancashire side as their appearance in the semi-final a few weeks back was the best run they’d ever had in the competition.

They booked their place in the showpiece final of English football after beating Millwall 2-0 in a game which was sadly overshadowed by poor behaviour from their opposition’s fans. But goals from Shaun Maloney and Callum McManaman were the focus on the pitch as Athletic booked their date with destiny.

They now face the daunting task of playing 2011 FA Cup winners Manchester City, who are currently riding high in second place in the Premier League. Mancini’s men beat Chelsea 2-1 in the other semi-final thanks to efforts from Samir Nasri and Sergio Aguero.

Overall, it has been a disappointing season for Roberto Mancini’s side. Another uncompetitive performance in the Champions League saw them finish bottom of the group without a single win to their name. At a domestic level, they have been way off the blistering pace set down by league champions Manchester United.

So it is no surprise that City will be desperate to secure the FA Cup today to place in their currently empty trophy cabinet.

But Wigan will be no pushovers. Let’s remember back to their Quarter-Final meeting with Everton, who at that time were chasing a Champions League spot. Three quick fire goals from Maynor Figueroa, Callum McManaman and Jordi Gomez put the Latics 3-0 up and out of reach of the Toffees.

The last time Wigan played in a final at Wembley was way back in 1999, in the Auto Windscreens Shield (the Football League Trophy). Their opponents that day were again Millwall and they won the cup, winning 1-0.

At that time, Wigan were playing in Division Two but owner Dave Whelan remained determined to get the club into the Premier League. The club took a step closer to that dream as they won the Division Two title in 2003 at a canter, only losing four games all season.

After narrowly missing out in the Championship play-offs race in the 2003/04 campaign, the club went one better the following season, securing promotion to the Promised Land on the final day of the season, finishing runners-up to Sunderland.

A strong first season in the Premier League under Paul Jewell saw them finish tenth and they also reached the final of the League Cup in Cardiff but lost 4-0 to Manchester United.

Bar 2009 when Athletic finished 11th, much of their time in the Premier League has seen them battling against the drop and this season has been precisely the same. The club are currently 18th, three points adrift from safety and must win at least one more game in the league to stand any chance of staying up.

Manchester City are big favourites with the bookies and Ladbrokes have the best odds at 4/11 on. To see the FA Cup odds, please click here.

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