ROBERTO Martinez insists Wigan Athletic will be affording West Brom maximum respect ahead of the crunch clash at the Hawthorns on Saturday.
Latics face Roy Hodgson’s Baggies before a daunting-looking festive programme of Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United in the space of nine days.
But the Latics manager warned against the danger of treating this weekend’s encounter as the ‘easiest’ game of the four.
“Not at all, not at all,” Martinez told the Evening Post. “West Brom are also in desperate need of the points and, being at home, they’ll be looking at this game as a cup final for them as well.
“They are very solid, they work very hard as a team and they finished last season in very good form under Roy Hodgson.
“They’ve kept to the same group of players, which has helped their understanding, while Shane Long has brought something a bit different since he arrived in the summer.”
Latics go into the game on the back of a 4-0 hiding from Arsenal, while West Brom picked up a decent point against Queens Park Rangers at Loftus Road.
The home side could have been out of sight by the time the Baggies equalised in the final quarter through Long.
But Martinez believes that result demonstrated the qualities Hodgson has instilled in his side.
“West Brom are a very hard-working side,” Martinez added.
“And they showed that at QPR, when things weren’t going for them but they carried on going and got their rewards right at the end.
“At home, they really make things difficult for opposition sides and that’s another challenge we’ll have to be ready for.”
The Wigan boss also backed his men to bounce back from the disappointment of seeing their mini-resurgence checked by a rampant Gunners outfit at the weekend.
“Arsenal were very good on the day, but we weren’t ourselves and I feel they took advantage and showed how good they can be,” he reasoned.
“We need to move on as quickly as possible, and we know West Brom will be a very, very difficult game for us.
“The Hawthorns is never an easy place to go, but we need to get back to winning ways as soon as possible.”
Martinez will be boosted by the return of Antolin Alcaraz and Emmerson Boyce, while he has also hinted there could be a recall for Hugo Rodallega, who has been an unused substitute in each of the last two matches.