Quick Reminder, Real Life
Wigan avoided relegation last season, just barely, finishing in 16th thanks to some late season heroics by Charles N’Zogbia (now an Aston Villa player) in a dramatic come from behind victory against relegated West Ham. Aside from N'Zogbia and goalkeeper Ali Al-Habsi, who had a breakout season and has proven to be a very reliable Premier League goalkeeper with a nice arsenal of quite acrobatic highlight reel saves to his name, there wasn't much joy around Wigan. Hugo Rodallega took a step back and didn’t improve on his breakout 2009-2010 season and the likes of Gomez and Moses didn't step up. All things considered, however, Wigan did just what they set out to do - survive. A small budget club where television viewers can often witness empty seats at the DW Stadium, Wigan were able to do just enough.
Quick Reminder, Fantasy
N’Zogbia was one of the best value plays in Premier League history last season (along with Blackpool’s Charlie Adam) but is now gone. Hugo Rodallega chipped in with just 9 goals but did manage 18 bonus points - a nice return. Ben Watson scored a few goals and picked up a few assists on set-piece duty proving to be a ‘poor man’s N’Zogbia’ from his midfield role, and Al-Habsi kept a few 7 clean sheets and managed the position well after Kirkland's disasterous start to the season.
- N’Zogbia to Aston Villa - Wigan’s best player and France international N’Zogbia is now at Aston Villa. A major loss for the Latics.
- Al Habsi makes move permanent - Al-Habsi was on loan from Bolton last season but is now permanently a Wigan player - after his transfer this summer.
- David Jones joins from Wolves - The midfielder will have little or no fantasy impact but was signed from Wolves
- Tom Cleverley back home - Another massive loss as Cleverley will not be returning on loan to Wigan for another season. He’s back at Manchester United and looking for playing time with the Premier League champions
2011-12 Outlook, Real Life
The loyal (or crazy) Roberto Martinez rejected the chance to take over Aston Villa and decided to stay at Wigan this summer, which is perhaps the most significant piece of summer transfer news at the club. Martinez can continue in a situation with little to no pressure, as expectations are not high - and all he must do is guide his club to safety once again to continue raising his managerial profile. Alcaraz, Boyce, and Figueroa are solid defenders who can cope with Premier League strikers and should provide a good framework to improve at the back. The midfield, however, is not as experienced. Watson, Diame, and McCarthy will be relied upon for serious minutes and attacking production in the absence of N’Zogbia and that could be too much to ask for. If Wigan can keep Hugo Rodallega from leaving this transfer window, and perhaps sign one more attacking player, they should be able to scrape by and finish 16th or 17th once again and avoid relegation. Supporters should not expect a Top 10 finish and 12th-15th would be a great success.
Probable Starting XI
Al Habsi, Boyce, Alcaraz, Caldwell, Figueroa, Watson, McCarthy, Gomez, Moses, Diame, Rodallega
2011-12 Scouting Report, Yahoo Fantasy
- Fantasy Gold - Nothing here really glitters. There may be some spot appeal for Wigan players, especially facing all three promoted teams to open the season, but nothing top shelf.
- On The Rise - Every season a variety of factors create opportunities for value buying in the Yahoo! game:
- Moses (needs to step up) Wigan are relying on Victor Moses to replace N'Zogbia and he's had a good pre-season so far. He'll finally get a run of games and Wigan desperately need him to produce goals.
- Gomez (needs to step up) Gomez has been a washout so far in his Premier League career, but Wigan will need him to play-make and give that midfield any spark of creativity.
- Watson (up-and-coming player) Watson is a bit on the unheralded side, but he took set-pieces for Wigan last season and may continue to be a phantom point producer.
- Traps - The entire Wigan offense seems to rest on a bunch of ifs and maybes. They have an easy early schedule, and you could be tempted to go for Rodallega who has the best pedigree of any Wigan striker. However, he was dormant for large parts of last season and we just don't know if this side is going to be able to create chances for him. On the defensive side of things, Maynor Figeuroa hasn't lived up to his elevated price tag in a while.
2011-12 Outlook, Official PL Fantasy
Studs: 10+ league goals should be expected from Hugo Rodallega and increased bonus points / set piece duties with N’Zogbia gone point to a stud classification for the 6.5M rated forward. Victor Moses has the potential to be a stud selection at the price-tag of 5M as he could fill the void left from N’Zogbia and become a potent attacker from wide positions. He’s still young and a bit raw, but 5 goals and 5 assists from a 5M price-tag would be studly returns.
Duds: Franco di Santo should see more playing time this season but the former Chelsea man just hasn’t cut it at this level and we shouldn’t expect much from him at 5.5M.
On the fence:Watson (5.5M) and McCarthy (5.5M) could see increased responsibility with N’Zogbia and Cleverley gone. Will they come of age?