Defence is the key - McArthur

Wigan players celebrate with James McArthur at Bolton
Wigan players celebrate with James McArthur at Bolton
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JAMES McArthur reckons defensive solidity could be the key to Premier League survival.

Latics have come under fire for a lack of goals this term – and the stalemate against Aston Villa means they have notched just 23 goals from 26 matches.

But McArthur believes Wigan’s own clean sheet – only their third of the season – could be far more significant in the final reckoning.

“It was a rare clean sheet, which we’ve been desperate to get, and it’s something we need to do more of in the run-in,” McArthur told the Evening Post.

“I thought the back three were outstanding again, they never let the Villa strikers – who are both top-quality players – get going at all.

“But you can probably put that down to the whole team, starting with Franco di Santo up front.

“The shift he put in was absolutely outstanding, and it sets the tone for the rest of the team.

“We see him working so hard, chasing around, closing people down and it has a knock-on effect.”

Wigan’s only other clean sheets this term have come against Liverpool and Swansea, who visit the DW Stadium this weekend.

Victory over the Swans would almost certainly lift Latics out of the bottom three – where they have spent much of the season – with 11 matches to go.

“We need to win,” acknowledged McArthur, who has joined up with the Scotland squad for tomorrow’s friendly in Slovenia.

“We know that and we’ll be doing everything we can to make sure that happens.

“A win probably takes us out of the bottom three, and that would be such a massive psychological boost to be able to do that.

“We’re still bottom but no-one at the club is panicking. We’ve been down there and got out of trouble before, and we’ll hopefully do it again.”