Southampton make their first ever trip to Wigan Athletic this weekend with a chance to pull clear of the Latics.
Saints currently sit three points ahead of Roberto Martinez’s Wigan side after 24 games played in the Barclays Premier League, despite a 2-0 defeat in the reverse fixture at St Mary’s during August.
Saturday’s game will be the third match under Mauricio Pochettino, who is hoping to build upon a goalless draw with Everton and a narrow defeat at Manchester United with his first win in charge of Southampton.
Since Wednesday’s 2-1 defeat at Old Trafford, the Transfer Window has slammed shut, with Saints adding no further faces, but letting Steve De Ridder, Lee Barnard, Jonathan Forte, and Ben Reeves make temporary moves away from the club.
The squad has remained in the North West to prepare for the weekend’s game, and there were no fresh worries in the aftermath of their midweek match.
A run of just one defeat in seven league matches means Saints remain in a good run of form, and with many of the players departing for international duty after this weekend, they will all be looking for the perfect send off.
None of the current squads contain players to have played for both teams, but Wigan do still have Japanese star Ryo Myaichi on loan, who is a national teammate and close friend of Maya Yoshida.
Saints are expected to be without Jose Fonte and Guly who missed out in midweek through inuries, but were buoyed by the return of Adam Lallana, who made his comeback in Wednesday’s game.
Recent signing Vegard Forren will be hoping to be in the squad for the first time since his arrival from Molde, whilst the game may come too early for Emmanuel Mayuka who has been away representing Zambia at the African Cup Of Nations.
The Latics will be without forward Arouna Kone who is still representing Ivory Coast in Africa, but will welcome back an old favourite in midfield schemer Paul Scharner, who returned to the club on loan from Hamburg ahead of yesterday’s deadline.
Our only previous league meeting with Wigan came at the start of this season, where a Southampton side still finding their feet at this level were seen off with a goal in either half, as the Latics ran out 2-0 winners at St Mary’s.
One other competitive clash between the two teams came back in January 1986 where Saints were 3-0 victors over Wigan in the fourth round of the FA Cup.
Chris Nicholl’s men broke the deadlock through Glenn Cockerill after 68 minutes, before captain David Armstrong doubled the lead as he knocked in the rebound from his own missed penalty four minutes from time.
Armstrong popped up again in the final minute as he nodded in Mark Dennis’s corner to make it 3-0 and secure Saints’ passage to round five.
Andre Marriner will referee Saturday’s game, and he will be assisted by Mr D Cann and Mr S C Richards. Mark Clattenburg is the fourth official.
Tickets are available on the day at the DW Stadium, priced as follows:
£20 per adult
£15 per over-65
£5 per under-16
You can listen to live commentary courtesy of BBC Solent on Saints Player, where you can keep up to date with all the stats and scores from around the country.
Fans travelling to Lancashire are asked to contribute to our next official matchday programme by sending in their pictures via Twitter @southamptonfc – just add the hashtag #MarchingIn.
You can also email your photos from throughout your trip north to [email protected]