Wigan v Tottenham, Premier League, February 21, 2010
Spursâ€™ crazy 9-1 win over Wigan in November is the clear backdrop to this game and all the signs point to a home win to make up for the humiliation at White Hart Lane. Roberto Martinezâ€™s team should be well up for this one, especially as Sky have decided to cover this game in expectation of some redemption for the Wigan players.
Conditions at the DW Stadium will have a big part to play. The 18,089 fans that forsook watching Champions League on the telly to witness Wigan draw 0-0 with Bolton on Wednesday night can confirm that the pitch, which resembles a bog, is not one for the passing football Roberto Martinez favours. (5/6 to be under 2.5 goals, 11/10 to be over.)
Wiganâ€™s home turf has taken a battering in recent weeks from the weather and the start of the rugby league season and if anything it will be in even worse condition for the visit of Tottenham. Much like the 0-0 draw with the Trotters, this is unlikely to be a beautiful game to watch but the Latics have the players to battle and scrap their way to a win.
Titus Bramble is a doubt with a hamstring injury but the likes of Maynor Figueroa, Gary Caldwell, Mario Melchiot, James McCarthy, Mohamed Diame and Hugo Rodallega are all players that can mix it and will be prepared for the fight. Bolivian striker Marcelo Moreno also showed his physical qualities against Bolton and Victor Moses will be looking to impress following his January move from Crystal Palace.
After a season of inconsistency best illustrated by letting in nine at White Hart Lane just weeks after beating Chelsea at home, Wigan are looking a little more consistent of late â€“ drawing their last three Premier League games. The Latics are in the midst of a horrible run in the league having won just once in 11 games and Spurs fans will be well wary of a statistic like that such is their propensity to lose to teams that are in poor form. (Tottenham are 7/4 to keep a clean sheet.)
Traditionally this is a game Tottenham lose and in recent weeks Harry Redknappâ€™s side have conformed to all the negative stereotypes attached to the club. At the turn of the year Spurs were arguably favourites to finish fourth but a poor run of form in the league has seen them win just once in six games in 2010.
A side with Champions League aspirations (Spurs are 7/1 to finish in the top four) simply cannot lose to Wolves twice in a season and their recent defeat to Mick McCarthyâ€™s side at Molineux shared many similarities with the trip to Wigan. On a difficult pitch, Spursâ€™ early fancy football was nowhere to be seen when Wolves took the lead through David Jones and they barely managed a shot on goal when chasing the game.
The chief reason cited for Spursâ€™ poor run of form has been Aaron Lennonâ€™s groin injury. The former Leeds winger was the chief tormentor of Wigan at the Lane in November and Tottenham look a little short going forward without the diminutive winger. Although Jermain Defoe took all the plaudits with five goals, he will be looking to get on the scoresheet after scoring just once in the last nine league games. (Wigan are 100/30 to keep a clean sheet.)
Whilst Wigan may enjoy the physical fight, in true Tottenham style the Lillywhites have a shedload of players who could well go missing. Wilson Palacios will be even more crucial than usual against his former club and Gareth Bale will be looking to continue his improved determined performances of late. Spurs have only ever won once away at Wigan and have failed to win there on their last three visits.
To break this game down as a match between the London fancy-dans and the hard northerners of Wigan would of course be erroneous, especially due to the huge number of foreign players on show. But in recent weeks Tottenham have failed to show the necessary fight to grab a Champions League spot, the pitch will hinder their passing game, and the Wigan players and fans as well as the TV cameras will all be hoping for a home win and revenge for their famous nine goal mauling.
101gg predicts: Wigan 2 â€“ Tottenham 1 (15/1)
Full match odds here.