Good evening! Thank you for joining Sports Mole for tonight's match between Stoke and Wigan. Let's get straight down to business.
I think it's fair to say that this tie is not one of the most appealing in the English football calender, but that is not to say we won't be in for an entertaining match tonight.
Both sides will see tonight as a chance to rediscover some form having struggled for wins recently.
Stoke have established themselves as a team that is very hard to beat, especially at home, but they haven't been able to kill games off often enough recently. Just one league win in eight, including three defeats on the trot, has had a toll on their confidence after a fine first half to their season. They have picked up a reputation as being draw specialists, having shared the spoils in 11 of their 23 games so far this season.
Even their home form, which served them so well earlier in the season, had started to fluctuate, with the Potters winning just once at the Britannia in their last four games in all competitions. That win came against Crystal Palace in the FA Cup and they required extra time to make it through that one.
However, the fact remains that they have lost just once at home all season - the same amount as Manchester United, Manchester City and Everton - so Wigan will still have to be wary of the threat that Tony Pulis
's men pose.
Wigan, meanwhile, have picked up just five points from the last possible 30 and sit in a perilous position in the relegation zone. With things being so tight, however, a win tonight could rocket them up to 16th.
However, their away form is not actually that bad. They have picked up 10 points on their travels so far this season, a tally that, if the league was based solely on away results, would put them in a comfortable 11th place.
It should also be noted, though, that only Reading have lost more games away from home this season than Wigan. They have only drawn once on their travels this season, which should create an interesting dynamic against the draw-specialists of Stoke.
Right, it's about time to bring you some team news I think! Stoke have made five changes to the side that were beaten 1-0 by Manchester City in the FA Cup, including a return for Asmir Begovic between the sticks and Peter Crouch
Wigan, unsurprisingly, have made a host of changes from their last outing - against Macclesfield in the FA Cup - naming eight new faces. Full team news coming up...
STOKE CITY STARTING XI: Begovic; Cameron, Shawcross, Huth; Whitehead, Whelan, Nzonzi, Adam, Etherington; Walters, Crouch
STOKE CITY SUBS: Sorensen, Jones, Owen, Upson, Wilkinson, Shotton, Jerome
WIGAN STARTING XI: Al Habsi; Golobart, Caldwell, Figueroa; Boyce, McArthur, McCarthy, Espinoza, Beausejour; Maloney, Di Santo
WIGAN SUBS: Robles, Jones, Henriquez, Gomez, McManaman, Stam, Mustoe
No surprises with changes for both teams after being away on cup duty. For Stoke, it is interesting that Tony Pulis
has opted for Crouch ahead of Jones. Both provide a significant aerial threat and Jones is stronger and had been starting to find some good form. However, there is no doubting Crouch's ability and he has a good chance to showcase it tonight.
On the subject of cup duty, both of these sides had contrasting fortunes at the weekend. Stoke fell to a late goal at home to Manchester City, eventually losing 1-0, while Wigan scraped past Conference side Macclesfield by the same scoreline.
So, contrasting fortunes in their most recent matches, albeit against very different tests, but how do these two sides stack up against each other in recent history?
Well, it's not great reading for Stoke fans. They have failed to beat the Latics in their last seven meetings, with five of those matches ending as draws. The last time Stoke did beat Wigan was back in 2009 when Ricardo Fuller and James Beattie scored the goals in a 2-0 win. They are now at Charlton and Accrington Stanley respectively.
Overall there have been 21 meetings between these two sides, with Stoke edging the win count 6-5. The mathematically gifted of you will have worked out that that means there have been 10 draws in this fixture!
The reverse fixture earlier this season ended, wait for it, as a draw. It was an entertaining match, though, as both sides scored two apiece. Shaun Maloney and Jonathan Walters
both scored penalties for their sides before Franco Di Santo
and Peter Crouch finished off the scoring.
A repeat result tonight could be enough to see Wigan move out of the dropzone, but their fate lies partly in the hands of relegation rivals Newcastle United and Aston Villa, who play each other tonight.
Speaking of which, you can follow live coverage of that match with Sports Mole here
. We also have commentary from Manchester City's trip to QPR here
and Sunderland vs. Swansea here
As always, I will try to keep you updated with goals from around the country as they go in.
Let's have a more in-depth look at what impact a Wigan win would have on the league table. A win would see them move out of the relegation zone to be replaced by Aston Villa, unless they beat Newcastle in which case the Magpies will drop into the bottom three. A draw could also see them move out of the drop zone, but that would only happen if Newcastle beat Villa.
Stoke, on the other hand, can't move any further up the table this evening. They are currently four points behind ninth-placed Swansea, although a win could see them close that gap depending on the score in Swansea match with Sunderland. The Black Cats could also leapfrog Stoke if they draw or win depending on the score here at the Britannia.
A quick word on the potential transfer dealings of these sides, and Crouch's start may have something to do with the speculation linking him with a move to QPR, where he would link up with Harry Redknapp again.
Michael Owen, meanwhile, has claimed that he will stay at Stoke and fight for a first team place. He only makes the bench for the Potters today.
Wigan, meanwhile, have unloaded Mauro Boselli on loan to Palermo intil the end of the season.
Right, we're 10 minutes from kickoff, that can only mean one thing - it's prediction time! I don't foresee many goals in this one to be honest. Stoke are notoriously hard to beat at home (unless you're Chelsea) and I don't see that changing today. I think the Potters will nick it 1-0.
Stoke have scored 22 goals so far this season, conceding 27, while Wigan have scored 25 goals and conceded a whopping 43.
The Latics have lost seven of their last 10 league away games, can they improve this record this afternoon?
Wigan eyes will be on new signings Espinoza and Golobart, who are both making their Premier League debuts tonight.
A quick word also for Stoke boss Tony Pulis, who celebrates his 450th match in charge of the Potters tonight.
Ok, we're ready for kickoff here at the Britannia...
Here we go! Wigan get us underway.
Figueroa wins a freekick just inside his own half. A couple of seasons ago he scored with a freekick in a similar position, but he calmly begins play again this time.
An early clash of heads between Di Santo and Huth raises concerns for the German, who has surprisingly come off worse. The players seem concerned and the physios are on.
Stoke's physios are taking great concern over Huth here. Tony Pulis will be hopeful that he won't need to make a sub this early on, but I'm sure he'll be even more worried about Huth's welfare.
Good news as Huth sits up and is strapped with a bandage around his head, Terry Butcher style. It looked like quite a nasty knock, but Huth is made of stern stuff and he will continue.
The games begins again after something of a false start there.
Matthew Etherington is on throw-in duty today, and that means that Stoke's trademark long throws is not a weapon that they have in their arsenal tonight.
Begovic gets his first touch of the ball as Beausejour's cross is too close to the Stoke keeper. Not much has happened in this opening 10 minutes, partly down to the injury to Huth.
SHOT! We have our first shot of the match, but it isn't a good one. Stoke have a chance to break after Wigan give the ball away and eventually Walters is teed up, but his shot is high and wide.
Both sides are struggling to hold on to the ball at the moment. It has been a scrappy affair so far, let's hope it livens up soon!
Half a chance for Stoke as Crouch flicks a header on towards Adam, who is charging through the middle. The former Liverpool man is denied by a clearance from Golobart, however.
Etherington shows tremendous pace by bursting past two players and into the box, but he fluffs his lines, miscontrols the ball and gifts Wigan a free kick.
SHOT! Charlie Adam
is not one to turn down a shot from 25 yards out and, sure enough, he puts plenty behind his effort. It flies a couple of yards past the post, but that's the best effort we've seen so far tonight.
Very little to report on at the moment. Wigan finally put a prolonged piece of posession together, by far their best spell of the match, and it ends with a tame shot from Di Santo that is easily picked up by Begovic.
GOAL! Stoke 1-0 Wigan (Ryan Shawcross)
Stoke take the lead through Shawcross! It's a goal fitting of the game so far - scrappy. Charlie Adam
's freekick was cut out by Beausejour, but his header rebounded off McCarthy and straight to Ryan Shawcross
, who had an easy finish. A huge element of luck about the goal, but Stoke will take anything they can.
Walters whips what looks like a fine ball into the box, only for Al Habsi to pluck it off the toes of Crouch, who was offside anyway.
Half chance for Wigan at the other end as Maloney drives into the box down the right, but both of his attempted crosses are cleared away by the defence.
Far be it from me to judge a player on their first 30 minutes of Premier League football, but Golobart and Espinoza have struggled to settle in yet. They have both given the ball away numerous times, although they are certainly not the only players to have done that so far this evening.
UPDATE: An update from Villa Park in a game that has implications for Wigan and Newcastle have raced into a 2-0 lead courtesy of goals from Cisse and Cabaye.
Stoke have another free kick in crossing range, although Huth is licking his lips at the prospect of hitting this one...
...but it's clipped in towards the box and cleared away. Espinoza pulls down Whitehead for another free kick to the Potters in a crossing position, but this one hits the one-man wall.
Di Santo is now getting his head strapped as well, probably due to that early collision with Huth.
CLOSE! Charlie Adam dummies a cross with his stronger left foot, only to work space to shoot on his right from just outside the box. His effort dips, but just not enough as it goes just over. Al Habsi was worried by that one though.
Adam penalised for a very soft high foot. You feel that in a game like this which has struggled to get going the ref should allow play to continue unless he really has to take action.
The home crowd hasn't added much to this spectacle either, they have been unusually quiet.
CHANCE! That's more encouraging for Wigan. Beausejour fizes a ball into the box which McArthur can't steer goalwards. That's the closest Wigan have come to scoring in this one, and the first time they've created anything while going forward.
Beausejour goes down too easily under a challenge from Whitehead but the ref doesn't buy it. Pulis wants a yellow card for the dive, but only a goalkick is awarded.
We will have four added minutes at the end of this half due to the clash of heads in the opening couple of minutes that have left both Huth and Di Santo sporting bandages.
Beausejour fizzes another cross along the face of goal which Begovic looks to collect. He can't hold on to it, though, and spills it right into the danger zone, but there were no Wigan players in attendance to make the most of it and Stoke get it clear.
YELLOW CARD! We have our first caution of the game and it comes for Espinoza, who brings Etherington down with a sliding tackle. Free kick in a good position again for Stoke, but it comes to nothing.
WIGAN SUB: This is a very strange time to make a sub. Boyce is coming off for Stam, and Boyce isn't happy about it. You'd have thought that Martinez would have at least waited until half time!
HALF TIME: Stoke 1-0 Wigan
I'm not going to lie to you, that was a pretty dreadful half of football! Stoke's tactics have consisted of hoofing the ball towards Crouch and hoping that his knockdowns find a teammate, which more often than not they haven't, while Wigan have had one of the worst performances I've seen for a while. Better second half please boys!
That Boyce sub does seem to be due to an injury. He had a discussion with Martinez just after coming off and was holding his hamstring. Still, it is unusual to see a sub made that close to half time, with the manager usually waiting until the break to evaluate the injury.
The game's main (only) highlight si far has pretty much summed the match up. Stoke's goal was scrappy and very lucky, and at the moment that seems to be the only likely route for a second. Adam's freekick was not cleared by Beausejour, who headed it against his own man, allowing Shawcross to finish. The defender still had a bit to do, and showed decent composure for someone who hasn't scored in almost a year, but it was really put on a plate for him.
Let's have a look at some stats from that first half then, shall we?
The Potters have enjoyed 56% possession, having five shots to Wigan's three. The Latics have failed to hit one on target, however, and neither side have had a corner. That pretty much tells you all you need to know!
Tony Pulis has something of a dilemma regarding what to tell his players at half time. A repeat of the first half would see them pick up three point simply because there wouldn't be any goals. A second, however, would rule out the risk of Wigan nicking one and claiming another draw.
Martinez, meanwhile, needs to wake his team up. They never really got going in that first 45 minutes and failed to threaten Asmir Begovic's goal at all. I'd be very surprised if they can play that badly again, so Stoke may have a bit more work to do to see this one out.
Both sides are back out and we are almost ready to restart this one.
Stoke get us back underway and immediately try and force an attack, but it goes through for a goalkick.
Wigan are enjoying a bit more of the ball now and look more capable of getting a goal, with Beausejour the man looking most dangerous.
GOAL! Stoke 2-0 Wigan (Peter Crouch)
Just as I say that, Stoke go up the other end and score! Wigan were enjoying the previously mentioned possession until Espinoza gave it away cheaply, not for the first time, allowing Stoke to break. Charlie Adam picked up the ball in his own half and drove towards the Wigan box before letting fly with and effort that is parried into the path of Peter Crouch, who follows up to double the lead.
GOAL! Stoke 2-1 Wigan (James McArthur)
Where has this come from?! Less than two minutes separate the goals as Wigan hits straight back. Di Santo lays it off to Espinoza, who threads a fine pass through to McArthur, who is burthing through the middle. He makes no mistake with his effort, steering it past Begovic with the outside of his foot.
Walters goes down under a challenge from Caldwell, but the ref doesn't give a freekick, much to the displeasure of the home fans. They do get a freekick in a similar possession a minute later, however, and the fans cheer ironically.
CLOSE! Adam sends the freekick goalwards, but he drags it a yard or so wide. Al Habsi seemed worried about that one, though.
UPDATE: Aston Villa have got a goal back against Newcastle through Benteke. It's now 2-1 at Villa Park and still 0-0 in the day's other games.
The game has died down a bit once again, but Wigan are certainly looking more threatening than they did in the first half.
GOAL! Stoke 2-2 Wigan (Franco Di Santo)
Well, this certainly wasn't on the cards in the first half. Again Espinoza is involved as he finds McArthur at the back post, and he stretches to get his head on it and send it back towards Di Santo, who controls his volley into the bottom corner. Good finish, and this is beginning to look like a different side in this half.
YELLOW CARD! Whitehead is shown a yellow card for a foul on Espinoza, who is having a much-improved second half here.
SAVE! McArthur unleases a powerful effort goalwards that Begovic just has to beat away to safety. Wigan are really turning the screw at the moment!
STOKE SUB: This is an attacking move from Tony Pulis as Cameron Jerome replaces Charlie Adam. Walters will probably drop back into midfield now.
Figueroa battles away and finally wins space to shoot, but his effort goes a long way wide. Still, though, it shows desire that was severely lacking in the first half.
STOKE SUB: This is a more defensive sub from Pulis as Wilkinson replaces Nzonzi, a decision that the home fans are not happy about.
It is now Stoke who are really struggling to create a goalscoring opportunity, and I've just seen a shot of Nzonzi on the bench. He isn't happy!
Half chance for Stoke as they drive into the box before Cameron Jerome gets the ball. His attempted cross is dreadful, though, and Wigan have a freekick. Not a good first touch for the sub.
SHOT! Maloney skips to the right and whips an effort goalwards. It stings the palms of Begovic, who can't hold it initially but collects it at the second time of asking.
The Latics are starting to play some nice football too! A prolonged period of possession eventually ends up with Stam trying to feed Di Santo, but the striker is offside.
CHANCE! An increasingly rare sight of goal for the hosts sees Jerome spin off Caldwell and find space to shoot inside the box, but his effort flashes wide of Al Habsi's goal. Probably should've tested the keeper there.
The home fans are getting more and more vociferous as Wigan knock the ball about with ease. The visitors are simply outplaying Stoke at the moment.
The ball is hung up in the box for Crouch to attack, but Figueroa just does enough to put the striker off, preventing him from getting anything on the ball. You'd have backed Crouch to win that one though, and if he had it would've been a good chance.
Another half chance for Stoke as they come forward through Jerome. He shows good pace and power to take on Caldwell, but his final pass lets him down again.
WIGAN SUB: The pacey McManaman comes on for Wigan in place of Beausejour. A bit more trickery for the Stoke defence to deal with.
STOKE SUB: A final throw of the dice for Pulis as Stoke look to regain the lead sees Kenwyne Jones come on for Peter Crouch.
SHOT! Maloney jinks inside to find space yet again, but his shot fails to live up to expectations and rolls straight into the arms of Begovic.
A lot of fans are leaving the stadium early...I'll never understand that, particularly when your side is drawing!
Stam has made a difference since coming on, and he whips a dangerous ball across the face of Stoke's goal which no-one can take advantage of.
We will have three added minutes at the Britannia.
CHANCE: Di Santo is inches away from completing the comeback in dramatic fashion. A wonderful cross from Maloney finds the striker, but he is streching just too much as he can't get enough on the shot to direct it goalwards.
UPDATES: The other three Premier League matches have finished. QPR have drawn 0-0 with Man City, Sunderland have drawn 0-0 with Swansea and Newcastle held out to claim a 2-1 win over Aston Villa.
Back to the Britannia, though, and Stoke are mounting some late pressure but they can't make anything of it.
FULL TIME: Stoke 2-2 Wigan
The final whistle is greeted by a chorus of boos by the home fans. Neither side end their winless streak, but I don't think either side would be too unhappy with the draw.
Stoke deserved their 1-0 lead at half time and, the way Wigan had been playing, it looked like being game over at 2-0. However, the Latics fought back with a much-improved second half display to earn themselves a point.
It is yet another draw in this fixture, which makes it six draws in the last eight meetings between these two sides, and the second consecutive 2-2 draw.
For their part, Wigan move out of the relegation zone with the point, so they will be happy, but they might be a little annoyed that they didn't take all three. They were by far the better team after going 2-0 down.
Right, that's it from me tonight! Thank you for joing Sports Mole for tonight's game which saw Wigan come from two goals down to earn a point against Stoke. Be sure to stick around for match analysis, which will be on site within half an hour. Good night!