Just days after Manchester City and Wigan Athletic clinched a meeting with each other in the FA Cup final, the two will go head-to-head in a dress rehearsal on Wednesday.
While the attention of the club and its players has undoubtedly been taken up to some degree by a first ever appearance for Wigan in an FA Cup final, they will have to get their minds immediately back on their primary objective of securing their Premier League survival.
The Latics lie in 18th spot in the standings, three points from safety, but have two games in hand on the sides above them fighting against the drop. Martinez insists that the focus is firmly on the clash with Manchester City, although he accepts picking up points will be a tough task.
“This is the most important game right now and the start of an exciting run of fixtures until the end of the season,” he said, according to Wigan’s official Web site.
“It’s of course going to be very difficult; you only need to look at their home form over the last two years to see that but also be excited at the challenge that awaits.
“At the same time it’s an important game and a chance for us to catch up on the games we’ve missed as part of our FA Cup achievements, so the focus on the game is massive from everyone at the club.”
Martinez has hinted that he may look to make changes to his side as he tries to keep the team fresh following Saturday’s victory over Millwall.
Despite their victory against Manchester United last week, City go into the match 15 points behind their rivals at the top of the Premier League, albeit with a game in hand. Manager Roberto Mancini, though, will want to ensure that his side keep performing to the end of the season and at least try and apply some pressure to the league leaders.
Their recent record against Wigan should fill City with confidence, having won the last six meetings without conceding a goal.
Mancini is unlikely to risk David Silva as the Spain international continues his recovery from a hamstring injury. There is better news, however, with Micah Richards, Maicon and Jack Rodwell all back in contention after injury.
Manchester City (probable)
D: Zabaleta, Kompany, Lescott, Kolarov
M: Y. Toure, Barry
Milner, Tevez, Nasri
Wigan Athletic (probable)
D: Scharner, Alcaraz, Figueroa
M: Boyce, McCarthy, Gomez, Beausejour
McManaman, Kone, Maloney
Prediction: Wigan’s FA Cup success has been part of a run of four wins and a draw from their last five games as they are again finding by far their best form of the season at its climax. The same, though, is true for their opponents.
It would be natural if there were a letdown for some of Wigan’s players after their achievement at the weekend and City could well get a hard-fought win.
Manchester City 2-1 Wigan
Where to watch: The Barclays Premier League match will kick-off at 2.45 p.m. ET. Coverage will be provided by Fox Soccer Plus, with a live stream available on Fox Soccer 2Go.