Pre-match pointers:

• Manchester City are top of the league. Wigan are bottom
• Wigan have won just once at home (joint worst); Manchester City have won five times away (joint third)
• Manchester City have the league's best defence (16 goals conceded); Wigan have the third worst (41)
• Manchester City score first in 85% of their games (best), Wigan in 20% of theirs (worst). Worse, of those four games when they have scored first, Wigan have only actually won one of them
• Sergio Agüero has scored 14 league goals this season. Wigan's entire squad have scored 18
• Manchester City are having a bit of a stinker – one win in five games in all competitions, including defeats to Manchester United in the FA Cup and to Liverpool in the other cup. "Every year in every squad you have one difficult moment," says Roberto Mancini. "At the moment we are not strong and we have lost important players, so it is difficult."
• Wigan haven't won at all in their last five, and lost in the FA Cup to Swindon
David Silva is probably going to be fit
• Gareth Barry thinks "Wigan are a funny sort of side". "On occasion they can really perform but sometimes they roll over," says the England ace
Manchester City are definitely going to win
• It's Pablo Zabaleta's birthday today. Twitter-enabled folk can send him their best wishes here. Remember, as your mum said, if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all
• I'll be here from 7.30pm this evening

7.30pm: The teams are in! Micah Richards and Mario Balotelli both miss out because of injury, Gary Caldwell returns from suspension and David Villa, in a comment that will puzzle everyone who didn't get to this page early enough to notice that I accidentally said he would probably play, or at least would have puzzled them if I hadn't provided this lengthy and unwelcome explanation, sadly misses out because he's injured and plays for a different team in a different country. Thanks everyone for the tip-off!
Wigan: Al Habsi, Alcaraz, Caldwell, Figueroa, Stam, McCarthy, Gomez, McArthur, Crusat, Rodallega, Moses. Subs: Pollitt, Gohouri, Watson, Di Santo, McManaman, Boyce, Sammon.
Man City: Hart, Zabaleta, Savic, Lescott, Clichy, Milner, Barry, Silva, Aguero, Nasri, Dzeko. Subs: Pantilimon, Johnson, Kolarov, Hargreaves, Onuoha, De Jong, Rekik.
Referee: Martin Atkinson (W Yorkshire).

7.45pm: Over on Sky, Gary Neville is talking at considerable length about the manifold failures of Liverpool and Arsenal. I reckon he quite likes his job.

7.52pm: Two words that will bring hope to Wigan fans: Stefan Savic. Rodallega and Moses could worry the lanky Montenegrin this evening. They might have quite a lot of defending to do themselves, mind.

7.55pm: Manchester City's team are ready to rock. As for Wigan, Al Habsi is all by himself in the tunnel. Seems quite relaxed about it, mind.

7.56pm: Al Habsi's teammates have finally turned up, and the players take to the pitch. Time for some adverts, and then some football.

1 min: Peeeeeeeep! They're off!

1 min: @InfostradaLive on Twitter inform me that Manchester City are the only Premier League club yet to concede a goal in the first 25 minutes of matches this season.

3 mins: Zabaleta has been given the captain's armband for his birthday. And he just gave the ball away to enable Wigan to enjoy a sustained period of frantic goalmouth action, from which they emerge with a corner.

4 mins: Hart claims the corner, then Rodallega runs between him and the ball just as the keeper drops it to complete his clearance. The referee gives a free-kick, disappointing all those who like nothing better than ludicrous and controversial goals.

5 mins: Clichy crosses from the left wing, Dzeko wins a free header. The ball flashes wide of the near post, but Gary Neville will be adding that little bit of "defending" to his half-time highlights reel.

8 mins: David Silva's brain is approximately 18% quicker than Samir Nasri's, who fails to predict the Spaniard's little edge-of-area return pass, allowing Wigan to intercept.

9 mins: Some delicious tight passing by City earns a corner, from which Savic sends a free header floating over the bar. Not an easy chance – the ball was slow and slightly behind his run – but not as hard as it ought to have been.

11 mins: Rodallega does well to steal the ball from Lescott, Moses carries it towards the penalty area, ignores the option of a return pass to his fellow forward and clatters a shot miles over the bar.

16 mins: Dzeko's fine head-flick sends Nasri haring down the right. He passes to Zabaleta, whose cross isn't really up to much.

18 mins: Dzeko very clearly kicks the ball into touch. Manchester City get the throw-in. Fortunately it all ends with another rubbish cross from Zabaleta, and a few moments later Milner wins a corner and Wigan get a goal-kick. Go figure.

20 mins: Milner scoops an attempted high pass towards Zabaleta straight out of play. City have started reasonably well, but are yet to create a golden opportunity, or even a yellowish one.

GOAL! Wigan 0 Manchester City 1 (Dzeko, 22) City win a free-kick on the left and hoist the ball into the penalty area, and to be fair it's an excellent header from Dzeko to guide the ball across goal and in at the far corner. And another assist for Silva.

25 mins: Just before the goal Sky's commentator had described Manchester City's goalkeeper, at the time collecting a humdrum backpass, as "the magnificent Joe Hart". Crikey. I mean, he's good and stuff, but "magnificent"? That's an adjective you can't just chuck about. I think in all the time I've been watching football the only goalkeepers who have genuinely earned that description are Peter Schmeichel and Kevin Miller, but maybe I'm just hard to please.

28 mins: Stam advances down the right before boshing the least pinpoint cross in the history of off-target crosses into row XX. Harry Tuttle demands that I add Dave Beasant to my very short list of magnificent keepers. I shall not.

33 mins: Wigan give the ball away on the edge of their own area, but Nasri isn't sure what to do with it and by the time he shuffles the ball to Silva there are enough defenders about to charge down the shot.

35 mins: Wigan give the ball away again; some boos are heard. "Neville Southall could be described as magnificent if only he hadn't been so scruffy," suggests Ian Copestake. Indeed. I'd say "magnificent" implies an amount of all-round awesomeness which is extremely hard to achieve, and even harder if one happens to be called Neville, and insist on sporting a messy 'tache.

39 mins: City have had a very long period of near-total possession dominance without even once threatening to do anything particularly interesting with it.

42 mins: Wigan get a fairly threatening free-kick, but Savic does well to beat Rodallega to the header. "No Gigi Buffon?? Somewhere James Richardson has sprayed expensive Italian confectionery all over his computer screen in horror. Or more likely he actually has a life and therefore isn't reading this," writes Alex Hanton. OK, there have been some other magnificent goalkeepers, but though Joe Hart is certainly excellent, I personally wouldn't put him in that magnificent bracket yet. That's all I'm saying.

44 mins: SAVE! Al Habsi does very well to stick out a firm wrist and repel Agüero's low, hard shot from 12 yards.

45 mins: We'll have a single minute of stoppage time, which City seem intent on whittling away knocking the ball about their back four.

45+2 mins: Peeeeeeep! It's half-time!

Half-time: Wigan Athletic 0 Manchester City 1 That half passed pretty quickly, even though nothing particularly remarkable happened and City spent the vast majority of it passing the ball around nowhere very interesting. There are some reasons for optimism in Wigan ranks – they're only losing by one, and they occasionally had the ball within 30 yards of City's goal – but City have looked distinctly superior.

Still half time but not for long: The teams are back out, action imminent. "Neville Southall is the best goalkeeper I ever saw, and I'm a Liverpool supporter," writes Stephen Armson. "His scruffiness added to his allure – my Dad used to maintain he would roll around in the goal area before kick-off, purely so he could attain an appropriate level of physical shabbiness. Anyway, the current Joe Hart love-in from our media is purely because England have had to put up with a cartel of donkeys in goal since David Seaman, and even he was pretty ropey towards the end there. He's good, and could turn out to be even better than that, but to call him magnificent at this point? Well, that's Sky for you."

46 mins: Peeeeeeeep! We're off! Again!

47 mins: "If you're a team in a bit of a poor run and you could pick your next opponents (yes, I know that never actually happens), you'd pick Wigan, wouldn't you?" asks Adrian Riley. "If this is how they normally play, I'm surprised they have any points at all." They do seem on tonight's first-half showing to offer a fairly unique proposition: precisely good enough to offer a decent test without being at all good enough to actually win.

49 mins: Having said that, Wigan have started this half quite well and James McCarthy just successfully pulled off a midfield backheel.

51 mins: James McArthur's 22-yard shot flies wide of the far post as Wigan's bright start to the half continues.

55 mins: DOUBLE SAVE! Al Habsi stops shots from Dzeko (a good one, that) and Silva after watching with horror as his defence twice gifted City possession in dangerous areas.

55 mins: HILARIOUS COMEDY MISS! Agüero and Dzeko hare into Wigan's penalty area, with three defenders to beat. Agüero turns one way then the other, wriggling past defenders and getting closer to the goal – and, indeed, to Dzeko – but without ever shooting until finally he's basically on top of Dzeko, who hits a scuffed shot with no pace straight at the goalkeeper from six yards. The ball should have been in the net some time before then, in truth.

58 mins: Figueroa fouls Nasri, who seems to be in genuine pain.

59 mins: Nasri has recovered from his genuine pain, and Silva has wasted the free-kick.

62 mins: Clichy's cross is deflected off Alcarez, Agüero and Caldwell before rolling just wide of the far post. Shortly beforehand McArthur won the game's first booking.

65 mins: City appear to have weathered Wigan's storm, but this match remains far more even than the aspiring champions would like. "Not sure about the 'Hart is not magnificent' thing, because it is a question of era," writes Robin Hazlehurst. "It's a bit like grade inflation in schools and universities, adjective-inflation in modern sports commentary. Surely today's 'magnificent' is a 1980s 'doing a good job', a 1960s 'not bad for a fat lad' and a 1930s 'stop showing off you bloody ponce'. It is just a notch or so above average. And if any keeper was ever truly magnificent, it would have to be City's Trautmann, but I bet they didn't call him that then."

68 mins: City play a million passes before eventually Nasri hurls in a speculative cross and either Dzeko heads it wide or Caldwell punches it off his head, depending. Anyway, it's a goal kick. Wigan bring on Watson and Di Santo for Crusat and McArthur.

70 mins: SAVE! Milner gives the ball away, Rodallega passes to McCarthy and the magnificent Hart does magnificently well to push the shot clear of danger. That's the closest the home side have come, by a way.

74 mins: Manchester City bring Nigel de Jong on for Samir Nasri, which should allow James Milner the freedom to become the creative influence in this game that I think we all by now know he's not really cut out to be at all.

76 mins: McCarthy hits a shot which is so woeful the referee assumes it must have been deflected. Watson's corner is headed clear, though.

77 mins: This half really is quite scrappy. City's greater class remains very much unstamped on this encounter. Talking of class, is Victor Moses not going to be one of the stars of Team GB's Olympic side? Young, English, quite good, certain not to be going to Euro 2012 – it all adds up, no?

79 mins: De Jong's first touch takes four minutes to come and is then totally atrocious, putting his team in such a pickle that Zabaleta is forced to stop Wigan's break at the cost of a yellow card.

81 mins: City now bring on Nedum Onuoha for David Silva, while Wigan replace Jordi Gomez with Callum McManaman.

82 mins: Good pass from Milner to Agüero, who touches the ball back to Dzeko. His shot from 30 yards catches Caldwell's calf and Al Habsi pushes the ball over the bar. Obviously Victor Moses' Olympic future depends on whether he considers himself Nigerian or not. Anyone know the latest?

84 mins: With gaps appearing in Wigan's defence Milner finds Agüero again, but his shot zips wide of the far post. Should have done better there, the lad.

87 mins: De Jong gets his foot on the ball, and immediately hammers it 50 yards into touch. These are our champions-elect, playing Wigan, dammit. We may have to elect some new champions-elect.

88 mins: Figueroa misjudges a bouncing City clearance on the half-way line, punching the ball with a raised fist as it flew over his head. Had he not done so, Agüero would have scampered away for a clear run on goal. He gets booked, but it could have been red. Roberto Mancini, on the touchline, is waving imaginary cards yet again.

90 mins: We'll have four minutes of stoppage time. Having said what I did about Milner (74 mins) he's been pretty good since then, finding Agüero in good positions on several occasions. He won't do it again, though – the Argentinian has gone off, with Adam Johnson coming on.

90+4 mins: A few minutes of Wigan launching the ball long and Manchester City winning it and launching it right back at them again is brought to an end, and City have won!

Final thoughts: City deserved the win, but it was an unimpressive victory. There are mitigating factors, in the shape of injuries and international call-ups affecting key players, but their key title rivals stuck five past these same opponents recently with Michael Carrick, Antonio Valencia and Jonny Evans in their back four (albeit at home and with Wigan disadvantaged by a ludicrous red card from a fairly early stage). The second half, largely spent wellying the ball aimlessly into Wigan territory, was unedifying stuff, in which only Dzeko, Agüero and Milner offered any attacking invention at all and only Hart's fine save from McCarthy – City's magnificent keeper is being presented with the man-of-the-match bubbly as I type – stopped Wigan equalising. Balotelli is apparently unlikely to be back in time for this weekend's match against Spurs, but they will need to improve on tonight's showing if they are to win that one.