HOLDERS Wigan Athletic continue their FA Cup adventure with a fifth round tie against Premier League strugglers Cardiff City on Saturday (KO 15:00).
The Latics, who shocked Manchester City with victory in last season’s final, are unbeaten in their last 10 ties in the competition as they bid to successfully defend the first major trophy claimed in their history.
And after knocking out Crystal Palace in the previous round, they will be optimistic of pulling off another cup upset against relegation-threatened top-flight opposition to reach the quarter-finals.
Uwe Rosler’s men arrive at the Cardiff City Stadium on the back of a morale-boosting 3-0 win over Sheffield Wednesday in midweek as they responded well to last weekend’s defeat at Huddersfield.
The Bluebirds have failed to triumph over Wigan in 10 attempts since a 1-0 win in March 1997 but it will be the first time the two sides, who swapped divisions last term, meet since April 2005.
Both managers have joined their respective clubs this term with Rosler faring better thus far with eight wins from 15 matches at the helm.
Opposite number Ole Gunnar Solksjaer – a two-time FA Cup winner in 1999 and 2004 – has just three victories in eight games in charge of the South Wales outfit.
Cardiff have won just two of their last seven in all competitions and were indebted to the heroics of Scottish goalkeeper David Marshall in Tuesday night’s goalless draw with Aston Villa.
Although they have lost just once in their previous eight FA Cup home games, the 2008 finalists have progressed to the last eight in one of the last nine seasons, when losing to Portsmouth at Wembley.
Norwegian boss Solksjaer will look to top scorer Frazier Campbell for some cup inspiration after the former Manchester United striker’s winning goals in the previous two rounds away to Newcastle and Bolton.
The Bluebirds sit two points adrift of safety in the Premier League while the Latics are four points behind the Championship play-offs in ninth place.
Match Prediction: Cardiff City 0-0 Wigan Athletic
The Bluebirds are deep in the relegation mire in the top-flight and the Latics have an outside chance of a top-six finish in the second tier therefore this FA Cup clash offers a welcome distraction and should be a tight and ultra-competitive spectacle. However, with Cardiff failing to score in three of their last four games and Wigan unable to find the net in three of their last four away matches, one can only anticipate that a scoreless draw is the most likely outcome.
Cardiff are without the suspended Craig Bellamy as the Welshman serves the second game of a three-match ban for an alleged incident during last weekend’s defeat to cross-city rivals Swansea.
Jordan Mutch limped off in the first half of the Villa draw last time out and may be replaced by young Norwegian midfielder Magnus Wolff Eikrem, seeking only a second start since his arrival from Molde.
Spanish defender Juan Cala, who terminated his contract with Sevilla last month, could make his debut with Ben Turner likely to make way.
Ben Watson and Callum McManaman could both return to the Wigan midfield after injury but Shaun Maloney is again sidelined with a long-term hip injury.
On-loan Cardiff forward Nicky Maynard, who netted a brace in the midweek win at Hillsborough, is ineligible to face his parent club therefore Marc Antoine-Fortune could be recalled in attack.
Spanish centre-back Ivan Ramis, who was the subject of transfer interest from Cardiff in the January window, has not played since January 1 but may be fit to partner Leon Barnett – the only player to have started every one of Wigan’s 29 Championship fixtures this season.
Cardiff City: Marshall (GK), Lewis (GK), Fabio Da Silva, McNaughton, Cala, Daelhi, Theophile-Catherine, Connolly, Taylor, Caulker, Hudson, Turner, John, Zaha, Whittingham, Kim Bo-Kyung, Medel, Wolff Eikrem, Noone, Cowie, Gunnarsson, Mutch, Mason, Smith, Jones, Campbell, Berget.
Wigan Athletic: Al-Habsi (GK), Nicholls (GK), Perch, Boyce, Browning, Holgersson, Kiernan, Barnett, Ivan Ramis, Crainey, Juan Carlos Garcia, Rogne, Beausejour, McCann, Redmond, Espinoza, Watson, McArthur, McClean, Jordi Gomez, McManaman, McEachran, Powell, Fortune.
Referee: Martin Atkinson (West Yorkshire)