JORDI Gomez insists the intense competition for places at the DW will propel Wigan Athletic towards their dual target this season.
Roberto Martinez sprung a major selection surprise ahead of the Newcastle game by keeping the same side that had sent Latics to Wembley the previous weekend.
That meant Sunday’s bench contained Ali Al Habsi, Franco di Santo, James McArthur and skipper Gary Caldwell, with the likes of Joel Robles and Callum McManaman retaining their places.
Gomez also kept his spot after a man-of-the-match performance at Everton, and he responded by laying on the winning goal for Arouna Kone with a pinpoint corner in the last minute.
“I thought the team did a great job at Everton, and the manager rewarded the players who played by keeping the same team,” Gomez told the Evening Post.
“I think we came up with another good job, and we gave him the three points that he wanted.
“It’s a great system to have: if you play well then you stay in the team.
“But everyone knows that football is not an 11-a-side game anymore – it is all about the squad.
“Every player must be ready to play when he is called upon, and do a job for the team and for the manager.”
With Latics still fighting on two fronts – to stay in the Premier League and to win the FA Cup – it promises to be an exciting end to the season.
“It’s a great moment at the moment for the football club, with a trip to Wembley on the horizon,” Gomez added.
“Everyone is looking forward to it, but it’s also very important that we do not take our attention away from the league.
“We made sure that didn’t happen against Newcastle, and we must continue to balance the two competitions if we are to achieve our goals.”
The roof was almost blown off the DW when Gomez’s set-piece was turned in by Kone, and the Spanish playmaker admits Latics need to build on the feel-good factor currently surrounding the club.
“It was a brilliant way to win a football match, the winning goal in the very last minute,” he added.
“The ball hits the back of the net and everyone in the ground – the players, the management, the supporters – are so excited, it’s a great feeling.
“We were desperate before the game to pick up the three points and we made sure nothing was going to stop us from getting them.
“We knew that a draw wouldn’t be good enough given the other results on Saturday, and we worked so hard that I thought we deserved the victory.
“Everyone is happy and everyone can be very proud of the three points.
“We had a great result at Everton and it’s important to get back-to-back wins because it gives you a lot of confidence.
“We have a short break now, and we are in good spirits ahead of the rest of the season.”