In the words of Willie Nelson, Wigan Athletic are ‘on the road again’ this week as we travel to Hull City on Wednesday night. Just like the famous country musician Latics have enjoyed their time on the road and will be looking to make it 5 consecutive away victories under the lights at the MKM Stadium.
Its our second trip to Yorkshire this week after Saturday’s match with Rotherham United. Fingers crossed we replicate the performance and the result from that game aw it was one of the most professional victories you’ll see this season. The way we play seems perfectly suited to away games, particularly against teams that come out to try and impress their home fans, and that’s certainly something the Tigers need to do.
Hull City sit 20th in the league and are currently managerless after sacking Shota Arveladze on Friday morning, just hours before their game with Luton. They were many peoples dark horses this season after an eye catching transfer window but it hasn’t clicked for them yet and Latics will be looking to pile on the misery on Wednesday night.
Latics Team News
The weekend brought about some positive team news and also some really disappointing injury news for Latics. Charlie Wyke was fit enough to start his first game in 11 months and lasted 79 minutes which is hugely positive for us and the performance he put in was the cherry on top of the cake, he was excellent leading the line.
However, unfortunately our talisman, our academy hero and the man who loves away days more than anyone Callum Lang is set for a lengthy spell on the side lines. It looks like he picked up an injury against Huddersfield, a game in which he played on AND scored the winner, and then also played in the Reading game too. Unfortunately it looks like he’s aggravated his ankle injury and as of now there’s no return date in sight. It goes without saying we wish him a speedy recovery.
A player that seems to have come through an ankle injury is Ben Amos and he’ll be in goal I’d imagine. His performance on Saturday was that of an experienced shot stopper and he was excellent at easing the pressure that Rotherham put us under. Hull aren’t the most clinical in front of goal and he’ll be hoping for a quiet night between the sticks.
Ryan Nyambe returned to the starting 11 against Rotherham and slotted back in well. He just adds a sense of security to our back line that not many others do and will be key to preventing Hull counter attacks on Wednesday. James McClean should keep his spot at LB and he’s another who keeps impressing week in week out with his performances, especially for someone you wouldn’t class as a natural full back.
Curtis Tilt and Jack Watmough seem to be the preferred CB pairing at the minute as Leam Richardson continues to favour the left foot right foot combination. Jason Kerr can count himself a bit unlucky to be out of the team after an impressive start but Tilt has come in and been solid. Meanwhile, Rarmani Edmonds-Green is yet to be seen in the first team and it looks like he’s very much a back up for now, there in case someone picks up an injury.
The biggest talking point pre game at Rotherham was the omission of September’s player of the month Graeme Shinnie. He was replaced by Tom Naylor who went on to score and played a key role in limiting the Millers aerial threat. Hull aren’t a direct team so I’d suggest its a game more suited to Shinnie, but perhaps Naylor has made himself undroppable. It’ll be interesting to see who gets the nod come 18:45 on Wednesday evening.
Nathan Broadhead made his first start for the club and looked bright on Saturday, but didn’t get any chances in front of goal unfortunately. I expect him to start again tonight and you’d like to think he’ll get a couple of opportunities against a pretty fragile Hull defence. Him and Thelo could cause absolute havoc on the wings.
Will Keane answered the questions many, myself included, had been asking of him recently with a well taken goal at the weekend. He was so much more involved in the game than he has been for most of the season and looked a completely new player alongside Charlie Wyke. Hopefully Charlie is good to go again and the pair can continue their partnership up top and maybe grab a goal or two each!
An Opposition View
To give an insight into where our opponents are at leading into Wednesday’s fixture I’ve called in the help of someone far more knowledgeable on Hull City than myself!
1) It’s for to say Hull City have had an indifferent start to the season. You started pretty well but 5 consecutive defeats have seen you tumble down the table into 20th place. What’ve you made of your sides start?
“Very frustrating. After all the signings and expectation, it’s been plain to see that after a few results which we were perhaps lucky to get that we’ve not been good enough, despite the individual quality within the side.” [@hcafcHub]
2) Shota Arveladze was sacked on Friday and the club are yet to announce his replacement. Did the sacking shock you and are you surprised there wasn’t an immediate replacement lined up?
“The sacking didn’t really shock anybody, but the timing of it was so bizzare especially after being told he would have the period after the international break. Many of us are still confused as to who the new man will be, but it’s pivotal it turns out to be the right replacement.” [@hcafcHub]
3) Many people saw Hull as potential dark horses this season given the calibre of players you signed in the summer. What sort of system have you been playing and do you think it’s making the most of the obvious talent you have in the squad?
“We’ve been playing a 5-back system in the most recent games and as the results have shown , it’s not gone well at all. The defence and goalkeeper are getting no protection, the midfield is too unbalanced which then also leads to the forwards having no service. Everything seems so lethargic and casual when we’re in possession, then we leave ourselves wide open at the back off the ball.” [@hcafcHub]
4) Latics have been excellent away from home this season and will be looking to maintain our unbeaten record on the road. Who from your squad are you pinning your hopes on to come away with something from Wednesday’s game?
“I would pin our hopes on Oscar Estupiñán , who is still somehow the leagues top scorer. But as I’ve said, he can’t do it all by himself but he’s been feeding off scraps since his hat-trick against Coventry. If we see a change in tactic where we grind out a 1-0 victory I won’t care, but I can genuinely only see a Wigan win, with some of our old boys in Magennis and Keane coming back to haunt us. 2-1 Wigan” [@hcafcHub]
I don’t want to speak too soon but it looks like we’ve finally settled on a 4-2-3-1 system as our first choice system and that’s something I’m really happy about. The difference in us when we play a braver more attacking style is clear for all to see and it also allows us to drop into a 5 late on should we need to defend a lead. In a 4 we have a plan B, in a 5 we don’t in my opinion.
With a 4 (top graphic) we score more, concede less, create more and see more of the ball! When we line up in a 3/5 at the back (bottom graphic) we still create a decent amount of chances but its very much on the counter attack as we don’t see much of the ball. We also concede a lot more which suggests the extra defender doesn’t make much of a difference.
Therefore, I’m expecting and hoping we line up exactly the same as how we did on Saturday and as I touched on in the Team News section I’d look to name an unchanged side against Hull. The hosts have played a number of formations this year, perhaps a reason why things haven’t quite clicked for them, and it makes them slightly unpredictable from a tactical point of view. They’ve played with a 5 more often than not recently though so I expect them to do the same again tonight.
They’re a side that like to counter attack, averaging 2.18 per game. As they’re not a particularly possession heavy side I’d imagine they’ll look to sit off us and count attack tonight but obviously that’s how we like to play too so they’ll probably see more of the ball than they’re used to. That being said in their recent game with Luton they had 65% possession but failed to do anything productive with it.
As @hcafcHub touched on their main attacking threat is Oscar Estupiñán and stopping him should be Latics’ absolute priority. The supply line into him hasn’t been great at all but he is a player capable of scoring the few chances he gets. We’ve been pretty decent at limiting shots at our goal, averaging 9.45 against per 90, and the Tigers have the second lowest shots for per 90 with 7.49.
I think we’ll have a real chance from set pieces tonight too. Hull have conceded a whooping 6 goals from dead ball situations and as Latics showed at the weekend we can be a real threat from them. We get a lot of joy from our back post corner deliveries and having watched back some clips of Hull defending corners I think that’s a method we should adopt again.
Jack Watmough is our go to man at the back post for attacking corners and you’d like to think he’ll get some joy based on those images above. Its a move we’ve seen used by Latics a few times across the past year or so and Saturday definitely wasn’t the first time its worked for us. Will Keane scored from one at Oxford last season and will be looking to do the same against his old club tonight.
From open play it’ll be the work of our target man that will create openings. Wyke or Magennis, another former Hull man, are both capable of attracting a couple of defenders onto them and creating space for our other forwards to run into and against a very disjointed defence I fancy our chances. If Thelo and Broadhead get the ball in space it’ll be a very long night for Hull.
This is one of those games that make me really nervous because all logic points towards a pretty comfortable Latics victory. We have the best away record in the country, Hull have been nothing short of rubbish for the past month and are without a manager and a couple of first team players. I don’t like going into games as the favourite!
I do feel like if we grab the first goal the MKM will descend into a chorus of boos that will kill any remaining confidence in the Hull players. However, if we aren’t on our game and Hull turn up full of fight it’ll be a tough night for us and we absolutely shouldn’t take this game lightly. Under Leam I don’t see that being a problem thankfully but we’ll wait and see.
Our away support has been wonderful for a while now and I’m sure those heading east to Hull will be loud and proud as always. Fingers crossed the lads on the pitch give them a performance to shout about and a result that could push us into the top 6!