Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Survival Fight Will Go Down to Wire

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Survival Fight Will Go Down to Wire

Article excerpt

WIGAN boss Roberto Martinez is predicting a ferocious fight to the end of the season for the bottom ten clubs in the Premier League as they bid to secure their top-flight survival.

Martinez, who has engineered the Latics' safety in the closing stages of the last two seasons, believes this year will see a much tighter finish with several teams battling each other to pass the magic 40-point barrier and secure safety.

Wigan are second bottom of the standings ahead of tonight's trip to Stoke, with the visit of Southampton on Saturday a vital game in potentially deciding their future in May.

Martinez said: "This year the bottom ten positions are really open.

"I know people are looking at the table but I don't think it shows the reality of the teams involved.

"There will be a lot of twists and turns from now until the end of the season.

"When you go into the last third of the league season, where you are in the table is just a starting point, but I do believe it is going to be a ferocious fight until the end.

"A lot of teams are going to get involved because if you don't get the 40 points you need you are going to be fighting to avoid relegation.

"There are ways of winning games and everyone will have a say from now until the end of the season."

Martinez knows he needs to find reinforcements quickly if he is to give his side the best chance of securing their Premier League status as Wigan's injury list keeps on growing.

Defender Ivan Ramis is the latest big concern for the Spaniard after he was ruled out for the rest of the season with cruciate ligament damage.

With centre-back Antolin Alcaraz still not match fit following a groin injury he picked up while on international duty with Paraguay, Martinez knows he needs to act quickly in the transfer window to find suitable cover.

Wigan have been linked with both Wolves defender Roland Zubar and Liverpool 's Sebastian Coates but, while Martinez refused to confirm his interest in particular players, he admitted there is business to be done.

He added: "I don't like to get into positions where you are desperate to bring one player in the final week. …

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