Match Preview: Wigan Athletic vs Crystal Palace


By - Friday 24th January, 2014

Crystal Palace take on Championship opposition for the first time since the playoff final as they travel to FA Cup holders Wigan Athletic


Ex-Eagle Emmerson Boyce is set to start for Wigan. Photo by Dan Farrimond, used under Creative Commons (http://goo.gl/kOGlfJ)

It wasn’t all too long ago that Crystal Palace travelled to Wigan in a Division 1 match, only to be humiliated 5-0 and face a very long journey back to South London after the first ever clash between the two sides. Well, actually, it was more than 10 years ago now; quite a long time in football. Both sides have frequented the top flight in that period, but this match sees the clubs face each other in an FA Cup clash for the first time.

Incredibly, this will only be the fourth meeting between the two clubs; with the Eagles’ sole victory thus far being in the 2011/12 League Cup. Wigan are the current FA Cup holders after defeating Manchester City by a goal to nil in May. Notably, the winning goal was headed in by Palace academy graduate – the so called ‘ginger Zidane’ – Ben Watson. Yet, Watson is not the only man who could be in line to face his former club in Saturday’s match, as right-back Emmerson Boyce had a successful two year spell in South London from 2004-2006. Both are sure to be greeted with a good reception from the travelling Palace faithful, with more than 1000 supporters set to make the trip up north.

There is some good news for Palace, as club captain Paddy McCarthy may be in line to make his first appearance for the club in 21 months following a host of injury problems. The defender managed 70 minutes for the development squad on Monday and made some crunching tackles, as well as a few choice comments towards the referee. Paddy seems ready to return. Also returning from injury is Adlene Guedioura, who is looking to regain match fitness after a couple of cameo appearances in recent weeks. Jerome Thomas is nearing a comeback after a longer than expected lay-off, but this weekend’s match will come too soon for him. Jack Hunt and Glenn Murray have been participating in training but are still a few weeks away from a return.

Pulis may look to make a number of changes for the clash against the Latics

Tony Pulis also hinted that Dwight Gayle would start up front for the Eagles after his excellent goal in the previous round of the cup at West Brom. The club record signing has largely been limited to substitute appearances under the former Stoke boss, but now has the opportunity to show what he is capable of from the start.

With a crucial Premier League match against relegation rivals Hull City on Tuesday, Pulis may look to make a number of changes for the clash against the Latics. Hiram Boateng impressed on his second appearance for the club in the previous round and may get the nod to replace Mile Jedinak or Joel Ward in midfield, whilst fellow youngster Sullay KaiKai may be rewarded for his superb form with a spot on the bench. Wholesale changes should not be expected, but the resting of key players looks likely.

Meanwhile Wigan, whose form has been exceptional under new boss Uwe Rosler despite defeat to Doncaster last time out, may include new loan signing Josh McEachran in their midfield. Defender Ivan Ramis looks set to miss out with a groin injury, although he has been linked with a move to Cardiff in the transfer window; whilst Shaun Maloney and Gary Caldwell are also out.

Despite Wigan being in the Championship, Palace will find it difficult to defeat the Latics at the DW Stadium; particularly with one eye being cast very keenly on Tuesday’s clash with Hull, and thus I think the Latics will prove to have too much for the Eagles on Saturday.

Prediction:

Wigan 2-1 Crystal Palace.

Matt Woosnam

Matt Woosnam

Matt Woosnam is a Kingston University student in his final year as a Politics & International Relations undergraduate. A campaigner on mental health he is the founder of @Talk_Out, as well as part of the TalkEasyTrust, and seeks to break down stigma by encouraging talking out. Matt is also an avid Crystal Palace fan and the online editor of Five Year Plan Fanzine, as well as a regular contributor to the Croydon Guardian.

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