Latics matches keep on coming as they face off against Sheffield Wednesday on Tuesday night as we look to put an end to our run of 3 games without a win. But tests don’t come much bigger than the Owls, especially at Hillsborough where they have lost just once all season, so we’ll have to be at our best to get something from this match.
The reverse fixture included a comedy own goal from Max Power, calamitous defending from Wigan and incredible goalkeeping from Owls stopper Bailey Peacock-Farrell and was the beginning of Latics’ dreaded Tuesday night run.
Hopefully, all that is behind us and we can go out and get something tonight.
Latics Team News
Gwion Edwards’ Red Card against Stoke at the weekend will see him miss out, and with James McClean and Will Keane expected to miss out it leaves Latics light up top. Jamie McGrath’s debut in the FA Cup attracted praise from many, including Leam Richardson, so I’d expect him to keep his place in the side. Gavin Massey put in his best performance of the season so he will also probably continue, and Callum Lang is the perfect replacement for the suspended Edwards.
Up top you could toss a coin between Josh Magennis and Stephen Humphrys, but I’d expect the former to start and see Humphrys introduced around the hour mark. We’re yet to see the best of Josh Magennis but he is a proven goal scorer at this level and we need to provide him the right service to get the best from him.
Behind the front 4 both Graeme Shinnie and Tom Naylor were absent at the weekend so will be able to come into today’s game fresh, although they now have genuine competition for places after Glen Rea’s impressive debut at the weekend. The back 4 will also likely be changed, with Jack Watmough almost certain to replace one of Jason Kerr or Kelland Watts. It also wouldn’t surprise me if Curtis Tilt joined Watmough in the starting 11 and both Kerr and Watts drop out.
Joe Bennett played well at LB in the cup and it’s just a case of whether his body can cope with 180 minutes in 4 days. If so it would allow club captain Tendayi Darikwa to occupy his favoured RB spot, and given Max Power’s exit at half time in the cup I imagine Darikwa is favourite to take that role.
As previously mentioned Sheffield Wednesday boast an impressive home record, picking up an average of 2.15 points per game on their own turf and scoring 22 times in 13 matches. However, it is no secret that Wigan have comfortably the best away record in the league having lost just once (on the opening day at Sunderland) and picking up an incredible 2.46 points per game away from the DW.
Wednesday have also won their last 3, whilst Wigan are without a win in their most recent 3 matches so something has to give, but what will it be and how will it be achieved?
Sheffield Wednesday favour getting the ball wide and delivering plenty of crosses into the box. They take the 2nd most crosses per 90 with 22.6 and it’s how they scored their 2nd goal at the DW in the reverse fixture. In that match LWB Marvin Johnson alone put in 5 crosses, so Latics will need to look to limit space and time he gets on the ball as well as Jack Hunt on the other side.
Despite Wednesday’s injury list that contains high profile names like Chey Dunkley, Dom Iorfa, Lee Gregory and Fisayo Dele-Bashiru (as well as low profile names like Josh Windass) they will still be able to put out a side full of championship experience capable of causing Latics problems.
Looking at Wednesday’s only home loss this season, a 2-1 loss to Oxford courtesy of a 93rd minute winner, it seems it was somewhat undeserved. But Oxford made things scrappy, conceded free kicks to break up play and halt momentum before hitting Wednesday on the break with clinical precision. Without wanting to speak too soon, they are all things Latics have done in many of our away victories this season.
Player to Watch
In midfield Barry Bannan is behind all things good for the Owls and the 32 year old has shown all season that he is playing at a level below his ability. Bannan has registered 5 assists so far this year, the most by any Wednesday player, and has also chipped in with 3 goals.
In recent matches Bannan has played as the 10 in Wednesday’s 3-4-1-2 system, picking up the ball in space and creating chances for his teammates. He also fancies his abilities at shooting from range, attempting 1.53 shots per 90, although only 28% of these shots hit the target.
Latics will need our defensive midfield pairing to be on their game in order to limit A) the service into Bannan and B) his ability to distribute the ball when he does have it. Tom Naylor’s impressive stats for interceptions (2.09 per 90) and Graeme Shinnie’s ball winning skills (1.67 tackles won per 90) suggest they are capable of keeping the Owls’ captain quiet, lets hope they do.
All good things have to come to an end. As Latics found out at the weekend unbeaten runs don’t last forever and Sheffield Wednesday’s impressive home form will change at some point. They have a few injuries in key areas and there are areas that I believe Latics will be able to hurt them.
For Wigan we need to stick to the game plan that has brought us so many positive results on the road this season. Use every trick in the book to try and frustrate the crowd and opposition whilst adding little moments of quality to decide the game.
I’m going to be positive and say we’ll snatch this 1-0, but Wednesday have scored in every home league match this season so a 1-1 draw wouldn’t come as a surprise to me either.