Wigan boss Roberto Martinez predicts a titanic struggle for Premier League survival

Wigan Athletic boss Roberto Martinez feels Chris Hughton's Norwich City side is far from safe yet af

Wigan Athletic boss Roberto Martinez feels Chris Hughton's Norwich City side is far from safe yet after the Latics' 1-0 Premier League weekend win. Picture: Paul Chesterton / Focus Images - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Norwich City have been warned to buckle up for a bumpy ride in their fight to avoid Premier League relegation – by the man who plotted their downfall at the DW Stadium.

Wigan chief Roberto Martinez has turned the Latics' into serial survivors in recent seasons, with Arouna Kone's 81st minute match winner at the weekend moving them onto 30 points - just four points behind the 14th-placed Canaries with a league game in hand.

Wins for Southampton and West Ham pushed Norwich closer to the bottom three, although Paul Lambert's Aston Villa failed to make up ground yesterday when they lost 2-1 at home to Liverpool to stay mired in the final relegation place just ahead of QPR and Reading.

Martinez's club has been a permanent fixture in the Premier League since 2005 and after watching his side overcome Norwich to edge out of the drop zone on goal difference the Spaniard insisted Chris Hughton's squad is now one of a clutch of rivals embroiled in the tightest survival scrap for years.

'What is clear is there are more teams than people think in this relegation battle,' he said. 'There are many games left involving the bottom nine teams. Looking at the bottom three positions I always felt the clubs down there were capable of picking up results with the games they have left. That means there are teams who haven't got maybe the 38 or 39 points you will need that guarantees you safety. In my eyes this is probably the closest fight to avoid relegation that we have had in this league for a long, long time. Everything is open, everything can be resolved and it is going down to very fine, fine margins. Experience helps in any situation you face, but really it is about us and what we do now. It is impossible to tell how many points we will need.'

Wigan's ability to disrupt Norwich's set piece threat was the key to a 1-0 victory for Martinez.

'Norwich City is the best side in the Premier League from dead ball situations and we had to be so organised and had to show so much character to defend and keep a clean sheet,' he said. 'To restrict Norwich to no shots on target is a phenomenal effort. We weren't stylish but what we showed was an incredible character and we found a way to keep Norwich quiet. To restrict any team in the Premier League to no shots on target requires a massive effort, and then it was that little bit of quality needed in the end.'

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