West Ham game like a 'final' says Wigan boss Martinez

Wigan manager Roberto Martinez has likened next Sunday's relegation showdown against West Ham at the DW Stadium to a cup 'final'.

The Latics, who drew 1-1 at Aston Villa, are three points ahead of the bottom-of-the table Hammers with two Premier League games to go.

"West Ham will feel they have real power up front," Martinez said.

"They have a great tradition and they'll be ready for that game. It is a final within a league competition."

He added: "When you are in this situation you cannot rely on others you have to rely on yourselves and for us that is the points tally you can get."

Wigan are on 36 points after a game at Villa Park in which Charles N'Zogbia gave the Latics the lead before Ashley Young equalised for the home side.

After the final whistle, Martinez absolved Ali Al Habsi of any blame for letting in Young's 22-yard strike and the Wigan boss also praised the goalkeeper for denying Emile Heskey and Darren Bent.

"It's not a surprise the quality that Ali possesses and his concentration levels were outstanding," Martinez added.

"When you need your goalkeeper, he was there to give us a real lift.

"The first goal, from my view, went in from a difficult angle and was a quality strike. He saw it really late and I don't think it is a mistake at all."

The Wigan boss continued: "Overall, coming away from home we wanted to win and we always want to win and I think we showed that.

"I'm extremely pleased with the performance. The points are coming very slowly but it's fair to say the least we were going to get at Villa was a point."

Heskey might have seen a red card rather than a yellow in the first half after squaring up to referee Mike Jones after the official did not award the striker a free-kick following a challenge by Gary Caldwell.

"I didn't see the incident but the players are adamant his reaction was out of order and it should have been a red card," Martinez commented.

"I know Emile really well. He is a true pro, a fantastic player, and he showed the passion that he brings with football.

"Unfortunately in those moments, if you don't keep your cool, you can get a red card.

"At the moment decisions don't seem to be happening for us. It would have been a key moment in the game."

Villa's assistant manager Gary McAllister, who is in charge of the Midlands team as manager Gerard Houllier recovers after recently being taken to hospital, took Heskey off at half-time.

"If Emile did barge into the referee, he is obviously lucky. But it is very uncharacteristic of Emile," McAllister said.

"He was annoyed he wasn't getting protection from the referee. With a couple of balls he had won, the centre-backs came into the back of him.

"He was looking for a bit of help from the referee, he didn't get it but it was an over-the-top reaction.

"Knowing him the way I do, someone I admire, a good friend, someone I've played with, that was just not Emile."

McAllister added: "The decision to make a change at half-time was purely for the team. We had to make sure we finished the game with 11 men.

"I didn't think about taking him off straight away. I caught his eye and felt he was going to be in control until half-time and that was enough for me."