Wigan Athletic vs Morecambe Match Preview

Latics final game before the international sees them face up against Morecambe at the DW Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

The home side come into the game off the back of a pretty comfortable 2-0 victory over Crewe on Tuesday, the same night Morecambe fell to a 5-0 defeat away at Shrewsbury Town. The Shrimps are also winless in 11 games and have conceded 22 times in that barren run.

Both sides will be desperate for 3 points, albeit for different reasons, and Latics will be hoping their quality will shine through against the divisions worst defence. Hopefully we make easier work of it than the last time we met!

Latics Team News

For once this season the Latics team news is more about who is returning to the side rather than who has been forced to miss out on it.

James McClean is back from his 3 game suspension and will be hoping to get back in the team before he joins up with the Republic of Ireland team for their games against Belgium and Lithuania.

However, this could be difficult for McClean, especially if we stick with the 3-4-1-2 formation that has served us so well in the recent 2 matches away at MK Dons and Crewe. With Morecambe also favouring a 5-3-2 system I would expect us to stay with what we’ve used in our last 2 outings.

Ben Amos made some crucial saves at 0-0 on Tuesday night as he registered his 13th clean sheet of the season. With Morecambe’s star striker Cole Stockton likely to feature he can expect to be called into action again this afternoon.

Jason Kerr, Jack Watmough and Curtis Tilt have looked like a solid trio in the games they’ve played together and are all set to play again today. The wingback spots seem less certain, with Tendayi Darikwa and Gavin Massey both having put in excellent performances on the right flank in recent weeks. Similarly on the left side Tom Pearce and Joe Bennett are neck and neck in their battle to become first choice LB.

However, given the fact an international break is just around the corner I don’t expect too much rotation. Therefore, I expect Darikwa and Bennett to play either side of Tom Naylor and Max Power who continued their excellent partnership in the heart of the Latics midfield on Tuesday. Power registered an assist whilst Naylor put in an impressive defensive performance that saw him get heaps of praise on social media.

I also expect the front 3 to be unchanged from Tuesday night too. Will Keane grabbed his 18th league goal of the season and will be hoping to score just like he did in the reverse fixture at the Mazuma Stadium.

Josh Magennis grabbed his first goal for Latics and you’d hope the floodgates will now open for the Northern Irishman. Morecambe are another side that struggle aerially at the back so he will definitely have opportunities if the delivery is good. Stephen Humphrys grabbed his first league goal for Latics against Morecambe back in January and I expect him to start this afternoon too.

McClean will likely make his way on to the bench, and there will also be fans looking out for Jamie McGrath’s name on the team sheet after he missed out at Crewe. The reason for his absence is currently unknown but if he isn’t injured I’d like to see him feature again.

The Opposition

The immediate thing that comes to mind with Morecambe is goals. They have only kept 5 clean sheets in 38 games this season, conceding a huge 75 goals along the way to make them the divisions worst defensive side. But impressively they have scored 46 goals, and have only failed to score in 12 of those 38 games.

In recent weeks new manager Derek Adams, who managed the Shrimps last season when they won promotion to League 1, has used a 5 at the back system to try and tighten up the sides defence but it clearly hasn’t worked. Therefore, it could be the case that Adams reverts back to the 4-3-3 system he used in the promotion run last season in order to get the best out of star striker Cole Stockton.

In this system I expect the Shrimps wide players to look to carry the ball forward quickly on the counter attack and look to feed Stockton from wide areas. With Morecambe averaging just 43.8% possession this season I don’t see them building their attacks patiently against us, instead looking to forge chances quickly in behind our wing backs and maybe win set pieces in dangerous areas too.

Their obvious threat comes in the shape of 28 year old striker Cole Stockton. The former Tranmere man, who played with Max Power at Prenton Park, has been in the best goal scoring form of his life this season with 19 goals in 36 games. The main problem is goals elsewhere are hard to come by.

Their second top scorer Adam Phillips has 5 goals, and 4 of those are penalties. Jonah Ayunga also has 5 goals this season but his inconsistency seems to be the 24 year old wingers main problem. There are threats for Latics to think about but it does look to be ‘Stop Stockton, Stop Morecambe’.

Defensively they struggle aerially which will be music to Latics fans ears given our front 3s heading ability. Will Keane has 8 headed goals this season and you wouldn’t bet against him getting another this afternoon. If Adams does decide to change the system to a 4-3-3 you’d have to expect us to be given several opportunities, and with Latics having the 2nd best conversion rate in the league the DW crowd will be expecting goals.

Confidence will be low given recent results and Latics need to capitalise on Morecambe’s woes. We cannot afford to be complacent and give away anything silly, opportunities will come to score it’s just about making sure we take them.

Player to Watch

As previously mentioned there is only 1 man that springs to mind when you say Morecambe’s star man; Cole Stockton. He has been involved in 47% of the Shrimps goals this season and you’d expect that number to rise before it falls this season.

Stockton takes over 3 shots per 90, with 1.4 shots on target per 90 as well. His 19 goals have come from all over the pitch, including 1 from the halfway line against Fleetwood Town. Being the vocal point of the Morecambe attack means there is pressure on him to perform, and luckily for Shrimps supporters he has done so far this season.

However, this pressure can sometimes see him try too hard to impact the game. Stockton has a tendency to drop very deep in search of the ball before driving forward to try and impact the game himself. This can work well on occasions but if he finds himself too deep he can’t impact the game as well as he might do further upfield.

The hope for Latics is he gets frustrated and looks to take full responsibility for Morecambe’s attacks. In my opinion Stockton is far more dangerous 20 yards from our goal than he is dropping in to pockets similarly to how Harry Kane plays for Tottenham and England.

No offence to Mr Stockton but he’s not quite as good at that sort of thing as Kane is!

My Prediction

As I mentioned previously I expect goals this afternoon. When the team sheets are released I’ll be more sure of how the game will pan out, but guessing that both sides line up in 3-4-3 styles I’m anticipating an exciting game.

I can see the Shrimps grabbing a goal, but with their defensive record as poor as it is I can see Latics grabbing 2 or 3. Hopefully that’s the case as a win today is absolutely imperative.

Latics 3-1 Morecambe

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