Dress rehearsal as Wigan take on the Champions
By Aaron Leggott
Following both teams FA Cup semi final victories at the weekend, Manchester City and Wigan face each other in different circumstances in the Premier League.
Many have dubbed this game as a dress rehearsal for the FA Cup final on May 11, but those involved with both parties will put a lot more value upon this League clash.
|Aguero grabs the eventual winner in the FA Cup semi final|
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City can further solidify their place in second whilst Wigan are still fighting for survival as they currently sit three points away from safety in 18th.
Roberto Mancini will be expected to make a number of changes to the side that beat Chelsea - and it is expected that Micah Richards may take part following his return from a six month knee injury.
Maicon and Jack Rodwell have also put themselves in contention for a starting place, whilst there are no new injury worries for the visiting side as Roberto Martinez has a full strength side to pick from.
City's only realistically chance of silverware will come at Wembley in May but Mancini is determined to see his side finish strongly and at least shorten the margin at the top of the table.
He said: "We have a chance to finish second and to show probably that we don't deserve to stay 15 points behind. That's our target at the moment."
Meanwhile, Spaniard Martinez knows that his team will have to turn on the style in the last seven games if they are to avoid relegation and stay in the Premier League for yet another year:
"It's that time of the season for us - we've got no margin for error and we need to be at our best. But at the same time, we need to enjoy the challenge ahead of us because it will be an incredible achievement to get the 9th consecutive season in the Premier League.
"We can't afford to go into the game thinking it's too difficult. We proved last season that when we are at our best we can compete against anyone."
Evidently, survival is Wigan's main priority but with City winning the last six meetings between the side without conceding a goal, the Latics might have to wait yet another week before grabbing crucial points for their relegation bid.
Below is a video of the previous visit between the two sides as James Milner scored a wonder goal in a 2-0 for City:
The first goal tonight will prove crucial and we need to grab an early goal to dampen any Wigan spirits. They are fighting for their lives and proved last season that they are no pushovers after winnings at the Emirates and Anfield.
We go into this game on the back of some brilliant form and I am sure that Mancini will be ensuring that his team keep up that level of performance in order to finish the season strongly. United's win at Stoke probably put an end to even the most optimistic fan's hopes of retaining the title so in theory, I'm sure Mancini will be happy to see the team attempt to shorten the gap.
A win tonight should ensure that we finish in second which is the main thing, and will bring a lot of confidence ahead of Sunday's trip to White Hart Lane.
I would say that Wigan's key man tonight is Arouna Kone. He is the Latics' top scorer with 10 league goals and is just two short of breaking the club record of 12 - set by Henri Camara in 2006.
Added to the fact that they have only lost once in their last six away matches in the Premier League they are no pushovers and we will need to put in a professional performance to ensure we can get all three points.
Prediction: 4-0 City