Al Habsi - We deserve to stay in Premier League

ALI Al Habsi has called on Wigan Athletic to ensure the draw at Aston Villa is a point gained by finishing the season with a bang.

Despite taking the lead through Charles N’Zogbia, Latics were held 1-1 at Villa Park and have slipped into 19th spot in the Premier League with just two matches remaining.

Next weekend’s clash with rock-bottom West Ham is already shaping up to be one of the biggest matches in the history of the club, and Al Habsi insists everything is still to play for.

“The lads showed good character, and although some people are disappointed with a point I think it’ll be huge ahead of the West Ham game,” he told the Evening Post.

“We are playing fantastic football – not just at the moment but for most of the season. We have been unlucky at times not to get the results we have deserved, but we are not out of it yet.

“The team, the manager, everyone deserves to be playing in this league – and we will do everything we can to make it happen.”

Al Habsi was beaten by a curling free-kick from Ashley Young shortly after N’Zogbia’s opener, but he more than made up for it with what could turn out to be a crucial stop from £24million man Darren Bent in the closing stages.

“It was a good finish from Ashley Young, but maybe I could have done a bit better,” added Al Habsi.

“So I was pleased to make the save from Darren Bent at the end because it’s nice to give something back to the team.

“It helped us to win a vital point, and was the least the fans deserve for their fantastic support. I hope they will be there again in big numbers again next week because we will need all of their help against West Ham.”

The Hammers have already sold their allocation for the game, and the Oman No.1 called on the people of Wigan to fill their three-quarters of the DW and make it a day to remember.

“I would love them to fill the stadium – this is their time to really make a difference,” he said. “It’s a huge game for us and we’ll need them behind us. If we can beat West Ham, I think we’ll stay up.

“It is the biggest game of the season, and the fans need to know that they can make the difference between us winning and losing.”

The visit of the Hammers could be Al Habsi’s last home appearance for Wigan, with his loan from Bolton due to expire at the end of the campaign.

With speculation continuing to mount as to where he will be plying his trade next term, Al Habsi insists he is just focusing on his football for now.

“To be honest, I’m not thinking too much about what is going to happen beyond the end of the season,” he added.

“I am a Wigan player through and through, and I feel a central part of the team and the club.

“If you don’t have that attitude, you’re not going to be able to give your best.”