Points make prizes

Everton v Wigan Athletic: Ali Al Habsi, who saved the day on several occasions for Latics, with manager Roberto Martinez after the game
Everton v Wigan Athletic: Ali Al Habsi, who saved the day on several occasions for Latics, with manager Roberto Martinez after the game
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ALI Al Habsi says the time has come for Wigan Athletic to start translating good performances into three points.

Latics entertain struggling Aston Villa at the DW Stadium on Saturday looking for only their fourth Premier League victory of the campaign.

They were unlucky not to come away from last Saturday’s match at Everton with maximum points, Tim Howard denying Ronnie Stam right at the death with a stunning fingertip stop.

It was the second time in successive weeks Latics had to settle for a point in such circumstances, with Charles N’Zogbia striking the post late in the previous game against Stoke.

Al Habsi has warned Wigan they risk being cut adrift at the bottom if they do not rediscover the winning formula – although they’ll have to do it the hard way against Villa.

Hendry Thomas and Maynor Figueroa will be suspended after picking up their fifth cautions of the campaign at Goodison Park, in addition to an injury crisis that shows no signs of abating.

“Villa will be a very big game for us, on the back of a great performance against Stoke in our last home game,” Al Habsi told the Evening Post.

“But we have to back it up and make sure we get all three points. That’s vital. We’ll be without Hendry and Maynor as well as the injured players, so it will be difficult.

“Every game, it seems, I have different players in front of me!

“But everyone is doing their job at the moment, and I’m sure it’ll be no different on Saturday. Whoever comes in will do a good job and that’s the way it should be.”

Emmerson Boyce will miss the game after aggravating his damaged hamstring in training, the versatile defender facing another fortnight on the sidelines.

Gary Caldwell is ready to return to the back four after a month out with a quad problem, while James McArthur looks set to take over from Thomas in the engine room.

Al Habsi admits Latics were hanging on for much of the game at Goodison, but was quick to praise the contribution of those in front of him who kept the Toffees at bay.

“We were all busy in that second half, but the team did fantastic and we deserved to hold out,” he added.

“Everton were full of confidence after their great result at Chelsea the week before, so I suppose a point was not a bad result in the end.”