Match Reports

Wigan Athletic vs Arsenal Under 21s Match Preview

Wigan Athletic face Arsenal U21s in the EFL trophy quarter-final this evening, as the Tics look to extend their 17 match unbeaten run. But with fixtures coming thick and fast due to various postponements it is likely Leam Richardson will rotate his starting 11 against the Arsenal youngsters.

Latics Team News

As eagle-eyed Latics fans spotted on twitter yesterday, many U23s regulars were missing from the line up for their match against Sheffield United. James Carragher, Adam Long, Luke Robinson, Harry McHugh and Chris Sze were all absent, leading many to suggest they’ll be involved tonight.

Leam Richardson has not been afraid of rotating his side during this seasons EFL Trophy, and given the intense schedule approaching I wouldn’t be surprised to see many regulars rested.

Jamie Jones is almost certain to play as he has done in cup competitions this season, and his penalty saving and scoring abilities could come in handy. Because of injuries and suspension, some ‘fringe’ players have played lots of minutes in the league this week, with Stephen Humphrys, Gwion Edwards and Kell Watts all doing their best to reclaim places in Leam’s best 11.

New signings Josh Magennis and Graeme Shinnie could also feature, with the latter making his full debut against Gillingham at the weekend. Magennis is yet to play for his new club, but would surely provide trouble for Arsenal’s inexperienced back line. Reports say he his recovering from a small injury, so Tuesday may come too soon for the Northern Irish international.

The Opposition

Latics fans mustn’t expect an easy ride in this fixture, with Kevin Betsy’s men (or boys) having knocked out Ipswich Town and Chelsea U21s on their way to the last 8.

Unlike many youth teams, Arsenal do not mirror their first team formation at youth level, with Betsy implementing a fluid 3-5-2 system focusing on ball retention and aggressive attacking play. They press high and are a cohesive unit, which has served them well in the EFL trophy so far against changed sides that are still developing relationships on the pitch. This could be an area of concern for Latics, if the team is changed drastically and they start slowly it could allow Arsenal to gain an upper hand. Wigan have conceded 6 goals in the first 25 minutes of games this season, and can’t afford to start slowly against a side that will be well up for it tonight.

Player to Watch

Salah Oulad M’Hand will likely feature in the heart of the Arsenal midfield. He suits the fluidity of Arsenal’s system, he is capable of progressing the ball forward with passing and dribbling, as well as providing good defensive security on the right flank. An all rounder, similar to how we’ve seen Max Power deployed in CM this season, M’Hand is just as happy to cover for his overlapping wingback as he is to attack the box and deliver dangerous crosses.

My Prediction

I think tonight’s game has the potential to be a very interesting match to watch, and at just £5 for adults and £2 for children I hope there will be a decent crowd in to support the Tics. Arsenal’s U21s will provide Latics with problems, but may struggle to cope physically with our direct style of play. We’ve struggled to keep clean sheets lately but have looked dangerous every time we attack, and the same can be said for Arsenal throughout this competition. They are yet to keep a clean sheet in the EFL Trophy, so I believe there will be goals.

Wigan 3-1 Arsenal U21s

Published 25/01/2022

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