Aston Villa avoid winner-takes-all match at Wigan
Aston Villa fans have been looking at the Premier League fixture list with trepidation over the last month, with the prospect of travelling to take on Wigan in a winner-takes-all clash at the DW Stadium on the last day of the campaign an ominous prospect. The Latics have become renowned as being relegation escapees over the last number of seasons, however Roberto Martinez’s men’s luck ran out this week.
Villa can go into the last game of the season resting easy, with Wigan already relegated after their 4-1 defeat to Arsenal on Tuesday night. Villa were relegation candidates with Unibet in April, however positive results against Stoke, Sunderland and Norwich have assured the Birmingham-based side’s safety turned the odds in their favour.
With a total of 40 points and sitting in 16th place, Villa are within three points of 10th place, and the goal must be to win at the DW Stadium to end the season on a high. Paul Lambert will be looking to next season already, however finishing closer to mid-table will limit the damage of an under-par season for the Villa Park outfit.
Wigan will be focussed on finishing their Premier League campaign with a win before being relegated to the Championship, and will want to put a show on for their fans. Villa must come out with a stubborn and defensive outlook to limit the enthusiasm of the hosts, and from there will look to the likes of Christian Benteke to get the goals to win the game.
The Belgian forward has been a revelation in his first season in England, scoring 19 Premier League goals so far in 2012-13. Benteke will want to reach the 20-goal barrier by hitting the back of the net against Wigan, and Villa will be preparing for the forward’s suitors’ approaches this summer.
Should Villa lose the game they could end up in 17th place, only one point ahead of Wigan and as such the season would be looked as a real failure. If they win a 12th or 13th place finish is achievable, and although the Villa Park faithful will still remember the campaign negatively, a positive end to the season will be a positive ahead of next term.
Villa’s form at home has not been good enough in 2012-13, and some of the side’s better results have been achieved away from Villa Park. Lambert will hope that a win against Wigan will mark a positive end of the season, and be a pre-emptive sign for a more positive campaign in 2013-14.