Wigan Athletic look to repeat FA Cup shock run

JOSH REICH
Last updated 15:45 06/03/2014
Ben Watson
Getty Images
BACK OF THE NET: Ben Watson's 90th minute header beat Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart and Sergio Aguero to win the FA Cup final for Wigan Athletic.

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An immediate return to the Premier League remains Wigan Athletic's priority but the FA Cup holders are determined to repeat last year's shock final win over Manchester City when they meet in Sunday's (local time) last-eight clash.

Wigan stunned hot favourites City 1-0 at Wembley with Ben Watson's late header sealing the club their first major trophy.

Celebrations proved short-lived, however, when defeat by Arsenal three days later ensured Wigan became the first club to win the FA Cup and suffer relegation from England's top flight in the same season.

After a poor start this season that cost manager Owen Coyle his job six months after replacing Roberto Martinez, Wigan have revived under former Manchester City striker Uwe Rosler and sit sixth in the Championship.

They travel to a City side who have lost one league match in 12 at the Etihad Stadium this season, having scored 43 goals in the process, and thrashed Wigan 5-0 earlier in the League Cup, a competition they won last Sunday against Sunderland.

"We are going to go there with intentions of trying to stay in the FA Cup - obviously we will try to retain it - but Manchester City will be looking for their revenge," Wigan chairman Dave Whelan told Sky Sports.

"That said, our number one ambition this season is promotion back to the Premier League. The FA Cup is special, but the main priority for us is the league, the finest league in the world.

"We have a great team spirit at the moment, our boys are full of confidence and hopefully we can get into the playoffs to give us a chance to return there."

Spaniard Martinez, who left Wigan to join Everton in June, is looking to become the first manager to win the competition in consecutive seasons with different clubs.

His side face a tough away quarter-final at Arsenal on Saturday (1245) and Belgium midfielder Kevin Mirallas said the match was the biggest of their season.

"Hopefully whatever the manager said to Wigan last year, he can do it again with us at Arsenal - he's very lucky with this competition," he told the Liverpool Echo.

Martinez will make a late decision on captain Phil Jagielka, who missed last weekend's win over West Ham and England's midweek friendly with Denmark with a hamstring injury.

Arsenal are boosted by the news Per Mertesacker and Tomas Rosicky had both signed new contracts, while British media reported Welsh midfielder Aaron Ramsey would soon be committing his future to the club.

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A lower league club is guaranteed a place in the last four on Sunday (1200) with Championship strugglers Charlton Athletic travelling to play third-tier Sheffield United, who have beaten Premier League sides Aston Villa and Fulham in this Cup campaign.

United are the lowest-ranked side to reach the quarter-finals since 1990.

The fourth quarter-final pits Steve Bruce's Hull City side against his old club Sunderland (1400), whose strong cup form belies their battle to avoid relegation.

On-loan Sunderland striker Fabio Borini, who scored the opener in the League Cup final, said he was determined to return to Wembley as well as ensure the club's top-flight survival.

"I want to go back there, to be at Wembley," he told the Sunderland Echo. "Scoring at Wembley is always special, especially for a foreign player.

"If we can win against Hull, we'll be going back again, which will be good. But the main thing is to get points and start pushing up the league."

- Reuters

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