Well, the weather outside is frightful. And so, according to many pundits, is Wigan Athletic's current form.
A blizzard of poor results appear to have put the skids on Wigan’s season, with the quarter final exit from the Carling Cup putting the snow plough through our Wembley dreams and some sludgy performances against some of our relegation rivals, especially West Ham, sending us into the snow-drift of the relegation zone.
We need to see an upturn in the Latics’ form and this weekend, weather permitting, we have a Barclays Premier League showdown with Everton in a north west derby which is increasingly being seen as a season-defining match. It's a six-pointer. A must-win.
Everton won last season's game at Goodison with a stoppage time winner from former Latics’ ace, Leighton Baines who has been in impressive form in recent weeks, especially with his driving runs from full back against Chelsea, and in providing the cross for Beckford's late equaliser.
What's more, Martinez's Wigan remain the lowest scorers in the Premier League, with a miserly 13 goals scored in 16 games. Only West Ham are close; Avram Grant's men having scored 14 in the same number of games. So we'll need to pack our shooting boots along with the gloves, the snoods, the long-sleeved shirts and the tights this weekend.
But, while all the pundits are falling over themselves like they are dancing on ice to send Wigan down, at least on paper, there are at least some positives for Latics’ fans to cling on to for warmth. In the deflection-fest against Stoke, loanee Tom Cleverley at last started living up to our high hopes for him. He's now scored two for the Latics in the past fortnight.
And there's also hope to be had in the sheer inconsistency of our relegation rivals. West Ham's Save Our Season, which lasted two matches, against the Latics and Manchester United in the League Cup, both at home, seems to have run out of steam.
Aston Villa, after a run of four defeats on the bounce, may also be slipping head over heels into the relegation zone. Black ice, in the form of a 3-0 defeat at Anfield and other reverses for Houllier's side, have meant they have dropped like a snowball and now stand only two points ahead of the Latics and Fulham on 15. Fulham themselves appear to be sliding to too many draws. And Wolves are suffering badly, despite some good performances.
A trio of our relegation rivals have home ties this weekend; Fulham take on Sunderland, West Ham face Manchester City and Wolves take on Birmingham in a midlands derby at Molineux. It is vital, therefore, that Wigan leave Merseyside this weekend with a result of some kind. We need to put the big freeze on our bad form, and quickly.
Disclaimer: The views in this article are that of the writer and may not replicate those of the Professional Footballers' Association.
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