In the midst of a fierce relegation battle, Wigan Athletic will attempt to defend their home ground at DW Stadium on Saturday. Before the match, I had a chance to exchange some questions with the good folks over at Pie Eaters Footie, SBNation's resident Wigan blog. Follow the jump for some wonderful insight from their gaffer, HeapyLatic. You can find my half of the questions here.
1. Obviously, it's been a stressful seven years in the top flight for Wigan. After narrowly escaping relegation in '07, '10, and '11, what are you feelings as a Wigan fan when it comes to top flight football? Do you think Wigan "belong" in the Premier League? What do you think it will take to get Wigan outside perpetual relegation dogfights and closer to mid-table security?
This year it looked like we would be mid table. But it hasn't worked out like that and there is a simple answer. We don't score enough, of we could get a strikers who scores about 15 goals a season we would have done a lot better this season.
We all feel like we deserve to be here, we have built up from ground bottom these past few years, and deserved to get into the Premier League. So don't we deserve to still be in the Premier League?
2. What are your thoughts on the home stretch for this season? Do you think you've got what it takes to stay ahead of Wolves, Blackburn, and Bolton? Your final games against Blackburn and Wolves are obviously filled with importance. How is Wigan going to fare?
These last three game are of course crucial, but everyone else is winning around us as well. We have to hope that other teams lose. But that is for the fans to worry about. The players have to focus on winning each of the next three games.
It is used a lot, but these three games are going to be three major cup finals and we have to win all three.
3. What do you think the difference is between the Wigan team that got crushed 5-0 at Old Trafford and the one who thumped the League Leaders 1-0 in Wigan? Is it simply desperation, or is there something else that triggers the "World Beating Wigan" attack mode?
We seem to have a thing for playing well in the last three months of the season since Martinez took over anyway. It comes down to get all the players being fit and in form as well. We had major injury problems before in the season, now we have a more or less full strength squad.
As for the United game, we lost 5-0 due to poor refereeing. Coonor Sammon was sent off at 1-0 as we were getting into the game. But you can't say that would have changed the result.
4. James McCarthy is one hell of a young talent. How likely do you think it is that Wigan are able to hold on to him? Do you think the big dogs will come sniffing soon? If the worst does end up happening and you find yourselves in the bottom three, which players do you see making the exodus?
McCarthy is one of many talents that are starting to come through the club. For me James McCarthy will stay on next season so long as we stay in the Premier League, much the same as Victor Moses.
If we do end in the worst circumstances him down, then we could lose about half our squad. Mostly due to players looking for more money than anything else.
5. What are your thoughts on Roberto Martinez? He's obviously kept you alive in the EPL during his tenure, but has done so at great expense for the Wigan fans's constitutions. Do you think he is the manager who can keep Wigan afloat and build stability in the top flight, or is a change necessary? Also, do Wigan fans honestly find him sexier than Alan Pardew... this is the question on every Newcastle fan's mind. We can't fathom a man sexier than Pardew, but there are though who make the case for Martinez.
The majority of us love Martinez mainly because of what he did during his playing days at the club. But he has done a fantastic job at the club so far. He has done a massive overhaul to bring in his own players and style of play. While cutting costs and rebuilding our youth system, Martinez will go far one day, but for now we are happy to keep him at Wigan. And of course he is sexier and Martinez knows it, he was gutted when Roberto Di Matteo took over at Chelsea, there could be a conflict.
6. Obviously your squad owes a great debt to Dave Whelan for the way he has brought Wigan up to top flight football through wise investing and a steady hand. On your blog, however, there has been some talk of his holding the club back from taking it to the "next level." What are your personal thoughts on Whelan, and where does he fit in the future of Wigan Athletic?
We owe our whole survival to Whelan when he bought us 1995 it was a closer to dire as you can get. But he stuck at it and got us into the Premier League.
What a fans don't like is the fact that he hasn't pumped massive amounts of money into the club. Which I can understand as he is trying to make is self sufficient which we more or less now are.
7. Who has been your MVP this season?
It has changed each week really. That has probably been our problem. One week one player plays well next, he doesn't. But saying that it has to go to the player who has stood out as one to watch and that player is Victor Moses. Pace and trickery have seen him perform brilliantly this season. Just wish he could score!
8. Finally, a prediction for the match on Saturday?
I am being told two results. My head says one thing, my heart says another. If I went for my head I would say a 3-1 win for Newcastle, Wigan having taken lead early on.
But my heart rules my head so I am going for a 2-1 Latics win, a late goal to seal the victory.