Wigan utility man Roger Espinoza is confident the Latics can win their FA Cup semi-final against trophy favourites Arsenal.
Espinoza, who is currently struggling with a hernia injury, was part of the Wigan side that famously shocked Manchester City in last season's Wembley final.
Wigan overcame the Etihad Stadium outfit again in the quarter-finals of this season's competition, and the Honduras international says lessons learned in those two matches can help the Championship side in their battle with the Gunners.
“We have to show that we can win against Arsenal. We’re not scared, we know they will want to come out to beat us,” Espinoza exclusively told FourFourTwo.
“We’re confident we will win. When we found out we had Manchester City in the [quarter-final] draw, we were like ‘oh another top team again’ - going to Man City obviously wasn’t an easy game, but we won. Playing Arsenal is not an easy game either, but we’re confident we can win these types of games. We know that it has happened in the past. We have proven that it is possible to win those games.
“In the past two months Arsenal haven’t been very consistent, but it still doesn’t change who they are. They have been a Champions League team for many years now - they are in the top four in the Premier League, but this happens to all teams. Sometimes you’re up, sometimes you’re down. I think it’s just about confidence.
If we want to win that game, we have to play almost a perfect game, like we did against Man City
“Since they lost against Everton last weekend, they will want to prove they still belong to the top.”
Espinoza also revealed the intensity of Wigan’s training sessions has been ramped up in the run-up to Saturday's showdown.
“Training has been very intense going into this game. It has been very intense, but at the same time very sharp. Everybody is trying to get as sharp as they can, so they can concentrate as well as possible,” he tells FFT.
“If we want to win that game, we have to bring our A-game. We have to be sharp. We have to play almost a perfect game like we did against Man City.”
“[Before the Man City game] We prepared very well during the week, so tactically, mentally and physically, we were ready.”
In order for Wigan to achieve that goal, Espinoza believes the Latics must stop Gunners striker Olivier Giroud. The Frenchman has scored five goals in his last five appearances in the FA Cup, and is the north Londoners' top scorer in all competitions with 19 goals
“He’s a very good player,” Espinoza said. “We have to play a perfect game against players like that - we need to defend well and make sure that their midfield does not get the ball to Giroud. Any time he gets the ball, he gets dangerous; he makes good runs and gets in good positions. If we try to block any of that from happening, we can have a good game.”comments