Three ways Wigan can stage an FA Cup upset at Manchester City

Wigan Athletic must evoke memories of their sensational win over the Premier League title chasers in last year's final if they are to stand any chance.

Wigan Athletic fans will have been gutted by Ben Watson's season-ending injury for more reasons than one. Not only was this midfield lynchpin enjoying an extended run in the side but he had also scored in back-to-back FA Cup games, with Manchester City next on his hitlist in the quarter-finals.

Watson, of course, was the man who gunned down City and ultimately planted the final nail in the coffin of former manager Roberto Mancini, with his stoppage-time winner at Wembley condemning the Blues to a harrowing defeat.

The Latics, meanwhile, were able to rejoice in securing their first-ever FA Cup despite their relegation from the top flight; and after losing Roberto Martinez, who masterminded the win, a host of first-team players and then Martinez's replacement Owen Coyle in such a short space of time, the start to this season was some comedown from the last.

Europa League football - and a once palpable chance of progression - smoothed the transition from FA Cup winners to Championship mid-table obscurity but it ultimately cost Coyle his job.

In stepped Uwe Rösler, the former City striker, who has steered the Latics up the table and also helped them reach the FA Cup quarter-finals in the latest impressive post on his CV, having come within a lick of paint of leading Brentford to promotion last year.

It appeared to be fate-like that Wigan should be drawn with their wounded prey of last year's final who, it is fair to say, have experienced far less turbulence under Manuel Pellegrini in his debut campaign in England, but the pressure is firmly on the hosts once more this weekend, with Rösler content enough with his side's run.

Besides, the transformation in fortunes he has overseen in boosting Wigan's league position, and their playoff credentials with it, could ultimately be disrupted with another prolonged run in the competition.

But Wigan fans would surely not complain at a second successive trophy now, would they? Here are the three ways they could go one step closer by winning at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday.

1) Operation Target Demichelis

The Argentine is the clear weak-link in City's side, let alone the defence, and was particularly culpable when Chelsea broke quickly out of defence and through midfield when they secured a priceless 1-0 win at the Etihad Stadium.

Vincent Kompany's displays have also occasionally come into question, not least his role in allowing Fabio Borini to open the scoring in last weekend's 3-1 Capital One Cup win over Sunderland, but the positioning of Martin Demichelis ultimately led to the Italian even having a sniff of goal after he sped away from the central defender.

He was equally found wanting when Watford came close to springing an upset earlier this season when they raced into a two-goal lead, the movement up front of Troy Deeney and Fernando Forestieri was too much to handle and it reflected poorly on Joleon Lescott too.

2) Keep The Shape Wide

The manner in which Gaël Clichy and Aleksandar Kolarov bomb on from left-back and likewise with Pablo Zabaleta on the opposite flank, there is room to be exploited in behind and in James McClean and Callum McManaman, Rösler has weapons in his armoury to capitalise.

McManaman was particulary impressive in last year's final, giving Clichy a torrid time with his incessant runs and dribbling down the right-wing, and he was one of the star men in the fourth-round win over Crystal Palace.

With Martyn Waghorn scoring in last weekend's 4-1 rout of Nottingham Forest, however, McManaman may have to settle for a place on the bench as a potential impact substitute. Either way, Jean Beausejour and James Perch must show enough offensively as outlets and defensively against City's star-studded attack to give Wigan hope.

3) Crowd The Midfield

Fernandinho and Yaya Toure were at their imperious best during the Capital One Cup win, but Wigan's cup success last year - albeit against a City side without the Brazilian in their ranks - was built on boasting nearly as much possession as their illustrious opponents.

Watson's cruel injury deprives the Latics of a calming presence at the base of midfield, but James McArthur and Chris McCann are equally adept in the role, too.

McArthur notched in his side's win at the City Ground last weekend, as did Jordi Gomez who will play slightly further forward in an effort to break between the lines. The three of them have a monumental task in quietening Toure, but they will be hoping he has one of his rare off days as opposed to the sort of performance which put Sunderland to the sword at Wembley. The trio must help in achieving that.

image: © illarterate

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