May 12th and May13th 2013 will go down in history as one of the best football weekends of the 2012/2013 season for a number of reasons. Wigan Athletic beat Manchester City to win the FA Cup, Watford reached the Championship play-off final in dramatic style, Sir Alex Ferguson paid an emotional farewell to Old Trafford and Chapions League places are still up for grabs.
An historic FA Cup Final took place between Manchester City and Wigan Athletic where Wigan beat their illustrious opponents 1-0 to put their name on the famous trophy for the first time ever. Not only did they win as underdogs but thoroughly deserved their victory, looking like the better team from start of the game and holding their nerve to score a late winner.
To add insult to injury, City had Pablo Zabaletto sent off 6 minutes from time which no doubt gave Wigan extra belief that they could claim victory. And this they did in great style, with the 90 minutes up on the clock, substitute Ben Watson headed home a near post winner and sent the Wigan players, fans and board into ecstasy.
Wigan had begun the match with attacking intent and carried this through to the final whistle. manager Roberto Martinez had got his tactics right and his players never let the City players settle. They chased and harassed and for the full 95 minutes showed the hunger and desire that their opponents seemed unable to muster.
All in all, another memorable FA Cup final to match previous shock victories such as when Wimbledon beat Liverpool and Coventry beat Spurs. Now Wigan have a small matter of finding a way to beat Arsenal at the Emirates to give themselves a chance of avoiding relegation. can they come down from their high and focus enough to accomplish this feat? It won’t be easy but one thing is guaranteed, the players will give it their best shot. The do have the problem where the other teams around them had a good weekend making the Latic’s task much more onerous.
And what of the two managers? If the papers are to be believed it looks as though both will be moving on once the final curtain has drawn. City’s Mancini will be sacked for failing to provide any silverware including a lack-lustre showing in the Champions League and Martinez will move on to greater things, probably Everton. Martinez will be sorely missed by the Wigan fans, will Mancini be missed? Well probably, but the fans at City will have hoped for more during his tenure considering the amount of money that has been spent and the talent at their disposal.
Away from the FA Cup, there are still places to fight for in the Premier League and this again includes Wigan Athletic. As we speak they currently lie in 18th place therefore occupying the final relegation place and with 2 games left to play things aren’t looking good. This isn’t helped by their next game being away to Arsenal who have their own priorities towards the top of the league and their final game is at home against a resurgent Aston Villa. To make sure they survive, Wigan realistically have 2 win both of these games. Now here’s a scenario, if they win at Arsenal, they will be just 2 points behind Aston Villa. A win against them could send the Villa down if Sunderland get a decent result. Buoyed by their cup win, could Wigan do it? Maybe…just maybe.
Sunderland have left themselves some work to do. Their recent 2 matches have ended as 1-1 draws at home to Stoke and Southampton which were games they would really liked to have gained more points from, particularly after their 6-1 humiliation at Aston Villa. It will take time for Di Canio to make his mark on the club but he really needs to settle the nerves of his players especially with their final match being away to Spurs. Villa also need to take care, as mentioned earlier, if Wigan win at Arsenal then they have to avoid defeat in the final game to stay up.
Meanwhile, it’s all hotting up at the top. The third and fouth Champions League places are still up for grabs although Chelsea are looking good for third with their win at the weekend against Aston Villa. They do have a tricky final match against a strong Everton side and they have the small matter of Benfica to deal with before that.
Fourth place is going to be hotly contested between those two old North London rivals, Arsenal and Spurs. Spurs are currently ahead but Arsenal have a game in hand and if they beat Wigan on Tuesday then they leapfrog Spurs knowing that any kind of win at Newcastle on Sunday will put them into the Champions League once more. That would be very hard for the Spurs fans to take as a similar end to last season saw them pipped to the post by the Gunners.
As if all this wasn’t exciting enough, a remarkable game took place just north of London which saw Watford beat Leicester to go through to the Championship play-off final at Wembley. Leicester were awarded a debatable penalty in injury time but the Watford goalkeeper saved it and immediately launched a counter attack where Troy Deeney netted to claim victory for Watford with a 3-2 aggregate score over the two legs. Heartbreak for Leicester and ecstasy for Watford where their manager, Gianfranco Zola admits he ‘lost it’ during his on pitch celebrations. Save it mate, you’ve still got a game to go.
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