Talking football: It’s Hammer time for Wigan Athletic!

Noel Hunt and Dan Burn celebrate against Bournemouth
Noel Hunt and Dan Burn celebrate against Bournemouth

This weekend’s FA Cup fourth-round tie between Wigan Athletic and West Ham will evoke memories of several recent and memorable Premier League encounters.

And if Latics can reproduce the performance that did for fellow top-flight outfit Bournemouth in the last round, they have every chance of pulling off another shock.

But would it actually be that much of a shock?

While two divisions currently separate the two sides, they could well be competing on equal terms in the Championship next season.

We know David Moyes will again make changes to his Hammers line-up, while Paul Cook will afford the competition maximum respect.

Yes there were a few changes in the last round but, unlike in the League Cup and Checkatrade Trophy, it was a team sent out to win the game.

Anyone thinking Wigan’s 2-2 draw in the first game against Bournemouth was a fluke would have been put right by the opening exchanges at the DW.

“I bet Eddie Howe wishes one of his players would put a Wigan player on their backside,” commented Stephen Warnock, sat behind me in the press box for Five Live.

“Wigan are up for this. They want it more than Bournemouth.”

Sam Morsy admitted after the game he’d been offered a night off by the manager, but ‘the conversation was only a short one’!

The players are clearly up for the cup, and so are the fans.

Thanks to fabulous ticket prices from the club, over 10,000 tickets had already been sold by Tuesday afternoon, with a bumper following expected from the capital.

Yes, the priority this term is, and has always been, winning promotion back to the Championship.

But this town also likes a good cup run.

Last term, the trip to Manchester United in round four generated well into seven figures.

In the post-parachute payment era, that is serious dough.

And it may even strengthen the hand of the manager when it comes to holding on to key players this month.

Paul Cook gave a unique insight into his transfer dealings after last weekend’s win at Plymouth.

“We’ve got the chairman and the chief exec on the bus home with us, so why not test how the water is?” he laughed.

“A couple of drinks will do the chairman the world of good, and we’ll see how it goes!”

Not enough managers readily admit their transfer plans involve getting their bosses tipsy.

Don’t ever change, Paul. Great copy as ever.

Among all the touching tributes to Jimmy Armfield, the Blackpool and England legend who died this week, came from Mirror hack David Anderson, who remembered one unforgettable press conference at Elland Road, Leeds.

Then-Leeds boss Howard Wilkinson had been moaning to the press about getting on his back, and challenged them: “How many caps did any of you win?” To which Armfield, sitting at the back, chirped up: “43, Howard.”

Wilkinson was in stitches, as was the press pack.

As a side-note, Blackpool have announced they will donate all revenue from home ticket sales for this weekend’s game against Charlton Athletic to Trinity Hospice, which provided care for Jimmy in his last days.

I get why the Seasiders fans have had their issues with the club’s owners over the years, and why they’ve been reluctant to put money into their pockets.

But there’s no excuse for the ground not to be packed to the rafters this weekend – for a great cause, in the name of a great man.

Carlos Carvalhal has fast become my favourite Premier League manager.

His thoughts on Monday night’s vital victory over Swansea? “I told my players: Liverpool is a strong team. Like a Formula 1 car. If you put that F1 car in the 4pm London traffic, the F1 car will not drive very fast.”

And his transfer plans for January? “We have money for sardines and I’m thinking lobster. I will do my best to try and bring in the best players.

“I will look at the lobsters and sea bass, but if we not we must buy sardines. But sometimes the sardines can win games.”

Bonkers. But utterly brilliant at the same time.

It’s horrible when any player suffers an injury so bad that they don’t even show a replay on Match of the Day, on grounds of taste.

It’s even worse when the victim is someone like James McCarthy. One of the nicest blokes in the game, a fabulous ambassador for the Wigan-based Joseph’s Goal charity, who looked to have come through his injury problems and was set for a run in the Everton side. It’ll be a long road back to full fitness. But if attitude is anything to do with it, he’ll be back...better than ever.

And finally...Conor Sammon only scored one goal in a Latics shirt – in May 2011.

It helped keep Latics up, and relegate West Ham.

I propose a minute’s applause for the great man before this weekend’s clash!