Wigan Athletic are looking to all but confirm their promotion to the Championship as they face up against Cambridge United on Saturday evening.
Latics haven’t lost since February and will be looking to keep this record up this evening, but opponents Cambridge United are no mugs and will make us work for our points as Burton did on Tuesday.
The ‘Amber Army’ have won 3 of their last 4 outings and have enjoyed a solid first season in League 1 after their promotion last season.
Latics Team News
Writing this section of my previews has got a lot easier in recent weeks as Leam has made little to no changes to his line ups. This weekend I don’t expect anything different which means this is the team I’m expecting/hoping to see.
In terms of the bench it would be nice to see players like Cousins, Shinnie, McGrath or Humprhys introduced at some point, but as we know Leam doesn’t tend to make substitutes before 75 minutes at the earliest.
The main thing is these options are there if we need them, that being said hopefully we don’t!
Cambridge United are punching above their weight in League 1 this year with the U’s sitting comfortably in mid table.
They also shocked the country when they defeated Newcastle United in the FA Cup third round earlier this season.
Mark Bonner’s side set up in a 4-2-3-1 system which on the surface seems attacking, but in practice is anything but. Cambridge have taken the 2nd fewest number of shots per 90 this season with 9.67 and have created the 2nd fewest amount of ‘big chances’ with 32.
Despite their lack of creativity they don’t exactly struggle for goals. 1.2 per 90 puts them 16th in the league but strikers Joe Ironside (14) and Sam Smith (12) are two players who know where the goal is.
They have scored 10 set piece goals as well which is an area where they’re dangerous. Latics fans might remember a long throw causing our defence problems in the reverse fixture and we will have to be better at dealing with it than we were.
The extra CB we play should help in this area as will Josh Magennis and Tom Naylor who weren’t involved at Abbey Stadium.
So we know they’re not exactly thrilling going forward but Cambridge are a pretty defensively sound team on the whole.
They have suffered a few heavy defeats this season but so have most sides. Wycombe put 4 past them 10 days ago, Sheffield Wednesday put 6 past them at Hillsborough and they also fell to 4 goal defeats early on in the season to Lincoln and Shrewsbury.
That aside though they are a resolute defensive unit as we found out earlier on in the season. We had 64% possession in that game but struggled to create anything of note for 80 minutes, and had it not been for some individual brilliance from Will Keane we’d have left Cambridgeshire with nothing.
They concede 1.5 goals per 90 so we should get chances to score, but as we found out on Tuesday night it’s not as easy as it sounds. U’s goalkeeper Dimitar Mitov has been quite impressive this season and if he’s on form tonight our gun front 3 could be in for a difficult afternoon.
The areas I think we can hurt them is with crosses into the box. Magennis and Keane both offer a huge threat in the air and Cambridge have shown some aerial defensive frailty this season. As we found out at Abbey Stadium crosses into the box can bring us opportunities and with Bennett and Power we have the players to do it.
With nothing to play for you could predict Cambridge to turn up and not offer much in terms of spirit but with recent victories against sides desperate for wins (AFC Wimbledon, Morecambe) this doesn’t seem to be likely.
It should also be noted that this is Cambridge’s first ever time on Sky Sports so there might be some nerves at play… I guess we’ll find out!
Player to Watch
Left Back Jack Iredale has been one of many solid performers for the U’s this season and is my pick for Cambridge’s player to watch. Latics fans might recognise the name as Iredale, 25, was linked heavily with a move to the DW Stadium in January before Tom Pearce signed his new contract.
A creative wing back with a solid defensive skill set, Iredale has offered Cambridge quality at both ends of the pitch this season. His combination play with the winger in front of him (usually James Brophy) could cause problems for Latics and our 5 at the back as they have the ability to isolate Darikwa and get in behind the Wigan captain.
Iredale has 1 goal and 2 assists in 31 games this season but those numbers don’t really do him justice. With 28 key passes and 23 completed dribbles (68% success rate) he [does offer a genuine threat down the left wing and we need to be wary of him. He is no pushover in defensive areas either with 1.4 tackles and 1.2 interceptions per 90.
He has recently returned from an injury though so he might not make the full 90.
It’s the business end of the season and this is where you want your big players to step up and be counted. Live on TV, sunny evening and a decent crowd it’s all set up for Latics players to make themselves heroes.
Hopefully the lads do the business, I’m going with a tense and tight Latics win which would all but send us back to where we belong.
Latics 1-0 Cambridge United