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Monday, 17 December, 2018

Wigan's luck likely to run out against smart Southampton

New boss Hughes can make a winning start

New Southampton manager Mark Hughes
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FA Cup quarter-final BBC1, 1.30pm Sunday

As soon as the quarter-final draw was made Southampton looked a decent bet to put Wigan in their place, and events at St Mary’s this week have strengthened the likelihood of Saints marching into the last four.

Southampton, even with the uninspiring Mauricio Pellegrino at the helm, were still capable of producing the odd decent performance and their FA Cup successes at Fulham and West Brom illustrated that.

But Pellegrino has gone with the spectre of relegation looming and the players have given the impression they are glad to see the back of him. Saints' supporters certainly are.

Mark Hughes has hardly arrived in Hampshire with his reputation intact after overseeing Stoke’s plunge towards the Sky Bet Championship, but a new challenge with a new set of players could work out.

Southampton look to be in a false position. They play enough good football and should have picked up more points earlier in the season. Thirteen league draws, however, hints at a team who struggle to clinch the deal and confidence has ebbed away as each week has gone by.

They are crying out for a decent centre-forward – top scorer Charlie Austin hasn’t played since before Christmas – but Hughes can get off to a winning start and take Southampton one step closer to another Wembley final.

They go to Wigan at a pretty good time. The change of manager is a major positive, and they have also had a decent week’s break which is in contrast to Wigan.

The Sky Bet League One promotion contenders have been involved in a pair of energy-sapping games over the past eight days, leaving it late to snatch a 3-3 draw against Scunthorpe last Saturday and then later still to nick a 1-0 win at Bradford on Wednesday.

Wigan team profile

Southampton team profile

FA Cup stats

Premier League standings

League One standings

They have a seriously heavy workload with games in hand over everyone in their division.

Latics boss Paul Cook is also starved of the services of the talismanic Nick Powell, one of the gems in his midfield. The former Manchester United starlet limped out of the Bradford game on Wednesday and whenever he has been absent, Wigan have looked a lesser side.

Even so, Powell played only 27 minutes of Wigan’s famous 1-0 win over Manchester City in the previous round, a match in which the hosts were also missing Egyptian schemer Sam Morsy.

Wigan rode their luck that night. City were down to ten men at half-time yet still boasted 82 per cent possession, had 15 corners to Wigan's none and unloaded 29 shots compared to Athletic's four.

Nineteen times out of 20 it would have been City going through and surely Wigan can only rely on good fortune so often.


2pts 11-10 general

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Team news
Star midfielder Nick Powell was injured against Bradford and is out. Frontmen James Vaughan and Devante Cole are cup-tied.

Top scorer Charlie Austin is injured. Centre-back Maya Yoshida and midfielder Steve Davis are doubts.

Key stat
Southampton are unbeaten in their last seven away domestic cup ties.

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Southampton are unbeaten in their last seven away domestic cup ties
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