Wigan Athletic travel to Lincoln City on Saturday afternoon with Latics looking to extend their lead at the top (how good does that sound!) of the League 1 table.
There will also be some extra motivation for the away side as they look to avenge the 2-1 defeat the Imps inflicted on them at the DW Stadium earlier this season.
With Lincoln sitting 18th in League 1 but in no danger of relegation their season seems to be petering out into nothingness and we’ll be hoping to take full advantage of this.
Latics Team News
Thankfully we made it through Tuesday nights game with Accrington Stanley injury free and with that in mind I expect the same team to start this weekend.
Ben Amos has kept 4 clean sheets in his last 7 games and will be looking to this tally at Sincil Bank. Having conceded two pretty avoidable goals at the DW in October I’m sure Amos will be keen to shut out the Imps this time around.
We played a 4-2-3-1 in the reverse fixture but things will be different this time around. Jason Kerr, Jack Watmough and Kell Watts played together for the second time ever in midweek and looked very accomplished in their play. Watts had a goal disallowed the last time we played Lincoln so I’m sure that will add some extra motivation to the Newcastle United loanee.
Joe Bennett’s free kick set Latics on their way to victory on Tuesday and the 32 year old will be keen to carry on where he left off this weekend. Tendayi Darikwa has put in solid performances at right wing back lately, hopefully he does the same again on Saturday afternoon.
Tom Naylor and Max Power will be tasked with keeping a bright Lincoln midfield quiet as well as setting Latics on their way in attacking areas. Power registered a fantastic assist on Tuesday night, his 9th league assist of the season.
The front 3 have been in fine form in recent weeks and Latics fans will be hoping the trio continue to do the business between now and the end of the season. Josh Magennis scored for Hull City against Lincoln last season in the game that secured the Tigers promotion back to the Championship. Can he repeat the feat this time around? Lets hope so.
Its fair to say that Lincoln City have underperformed this years, with the Imps currently sitting 18th in League One. Having finished 5th last season and missed out on promotion to the Championship in a play off final loss to Blackpool, Michael Appleton’s side have failed to build on their positive performances from the last campaign.
Lincoln have had an injury hit season which could be seen as the reason why they have underperformed so much. With players returning to fitness as the season draws to a close Latics shouldn’t look at the league table and underestimate this Lincoln side, they possess far more quality than the table suggests.
A big problem for the Imps has been scoring goals, they have netted just 44 times in the league this season. Despite averaging 53.3% possession (8th highest in the league) Appleton’s side register the 8th lowest shots per 90, 11.1. Their top scorer Anthony Scully has 9 goals this season, 3 of which coming from the penalty spot, so it is clear to see the problem lies in forward areas.
Latics have been successful this season in limiting the opposition creating clear cut chances, and with Lincoln’s struggles in this area anyway the home side could find it difficult to forge genuine goal scoring opportunities. @xg_data on Twitter findings show Lincoln have outperformed their opponent’s xG in just 1 of their last 8 games, winning 3, drawing 2 and losing 3. The one game they outperformed their opponents xG was their away game at Rotherham which they lost 2-1, so perhaps they favour matches against ‘better sides’.
Whether you value xG as a valid form of data or not it does highlight the lack of dangerous goal scoring opportunities Lincoln create. They seem to focus their attacks quite narrowly which should play into Latics hands given our compact 5 at the back so don’t be surprised if you see them try and hurt us with overlaps in wider areas this weekend.
Defensively Lincoln aren’t awful, although that being said they do have the 2nd lowest number of clean sheets this season. Young goalkeeper Josh Griffthis had been in excellent form for the Imps but he picked up a season ending injury in March, another example of Lincoln’s luckless season.
The 54 goals Lincoln have conceded this season is only the 14th highest in League 1 so we shouldn’t expect to turn up and hammer them. They do allow a large amount of shots against them though, 14.59 is the 4th highest in the division so we will certainly get some opportunities if we work things correctly. Their current goalkeeper Jordan Wright has an impressive 75% save percentage so we will have to be at our best to beat him.
I expect us to have a lot of the ball tomorrow, we had 61% possession in the reverse fixture whilst playing 4-2-3-1 and we’ve found it even easier to dominate the ball with a 5. Lincoln have registered the fewest ‘possession won in final 3rd’ which suggests they’ll allow our defenders time on the ball. All 3 have the ability to make progressive passes so this could come back to bite the Imps if they aren’t careful.
Player to Watch
Anthony Scully is having another very solid season at Sincil Bank, albeit slightly less impressive than his breakout season last year.
The 22 year old forward has netted 9 times for the Imps this season, as well as chipping in with 7 assists in his 30 league appearances.
Latics will have to be wary of Scully, he takes 1.8 shots per 90 and hits the target with 50% of them. He is also a creative spark too, registering 1.4 key passes per 90 from his wide attacking role.
The saying ‘The league table doesn’t lie’ is true, but in cases like this it maybe doesn’t tell the full story. In my opinion Lincoln City are a far better side than the standings suggest and this could be a really tough game for Latics if we’re not careful.
Hopefully they will be somewhat on the beach and we can take full advantage, especially with the backing of 1,200+ Tics fans in the away end. Our away record has been fantastic and I think we’ll pull through.
Lincoln 0-2 Latics