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Monday 20 November 2017

Latics will not lie down

Martinez vows that his Wigan outfit won't gift title to Chelsea at Bridge

Wigan manager Roberto Martinez has assured Manchester United his side will not make it easy for Chelsea to win the title this weekend.

United's hopes of claiming a fourth consecutive Premier League title depend on Wigan denying current leaders Chelsea victory in their final game at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

Wigan, having secured a sixth season in the top flight, have little to play for but Martinez has no intention of letting Carlo Ancelotti's men ease to victory.

The Spaniard said: "A strong performance at Stamford Bridge is an important way to finish the season.

"We are not going to just turn up and be another team at Stamford Bridge. We will approach it in a manner where we want to hurt Chelsea on the day.

"It is going to be difficult but the players have huge belief that we can go to Stamford Bridge and make things very, very difficult.

"Mentally we are prepared to go there and do as well as we can."

The odds are against the Latics but they know from experience the Londoners are beatable having shocked them 3-1 at the DW Stadium in September.

Having never beaten one of the 'big four', Wigan were given little hope then but they not only won, they also went on to claim surprise home wins over Liverpool and, last month, Arsenal.

Martinez added: "The Chelsea performance was really, really pleasing the way we stopped them from being Chelsea. We were the better side.

"We had a few chances in the first half and we got a goal from a set play.

"In the second half when Chelsea scored the equaliser I just felt it was a real test how we would react to that.



OPTIMISM

"To finish the game and win we got rid of that mental block that Wigan Athletic would never be able to beat the top four. We are going to approach it on Sunday in the same manner."

Despite their victories over three of the big four, Wigan have been inconsistent throughout the season.

They have been thrashed 9-1 by Tottenham, 4-0 by Portsmouth, 5-0 by Manchester United and 4-0 by neighbours Bolton.

Survival was only assured with their dramatic comeback win over Arsenal and they are still just seven points above the relegation zone going into their last game.

Martinez, however, has seen plenty to give him reason for optimism next season.

He said: "We are lacking in experience, we are lacking in know-how and that is why we are a little bit inconsistent from one week to another, depending who we are playing against and the challenge we face on the pitch.

"What pleases me is, with a team like ours with young players and a new group, we have been able to perform on the day against Chelsea, Liverpool, Aston Villa away and Arsenal.

"That is where the dreams of the future should lie."

Meanwhile, Chelsea midfielder John Obi Mikel has been ruled out for the rest of the season after undergoing knee surgery.

The operation was necessary after he suffered an injury in a tangle with Bolton's Kevin Davies last month and subsequently led to Mikel's early substitution at Tottenham the following match.

Mikel's absence will allow Michael Ballack to continue as holding midfielder until the end of the campaign.

But the Germany captain's future at Chelsea has come under scrutiny despite little comment from the Blues.

Ballack, whose contract expires at the end of the season, has confirmed talks are set to take place with Chelsea in the summer.

He told Germany's WDR radio: "After the season we are definitely going to hold talks with the (Chelsea) decision-makers and then we will see where things go from there. My primary aim is to stay in the Premier League."

The 33-year-old has been linked with a move back to the Bundesliga, with Schalke emerging as a surprise candidate to sign him.

Ballack is more concerned with helping Germany to World Cup glory after a provisional squad of 27 was announced by national team coach Joachim Low yesterday.

"We, like many other nations, want to win the World Cup," said Ballack. "We have qualified with good performances and we will be self-confident."

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