Blackburn v Wigan preview
The Championship season is beginning to shape up nicely as we head into the final quarter or the season. At the top, Newcastle managed a priceless three points at title rivals Brighton earlier this week with the help of one of the luckiest goals in recent times. Goalscorer Diame will undoubtedly remind Latics of better times, but as things stand, the club find themselves in a perilous position in 23rd. With games running out and picking up points becoming increasingly urgent, this article will analyse what exactly is Wigan’s problem, and who will win on Saturday at Ewood Park.
What has gone wrong at Latics?
Well firstly, the sacking of Caldwell appears to have been a very reckless decision without any real sense. The Scot may not have been the best defender in the world, but he had proven himself to be a leader as the Latics stormed to the League 1 title in 2015/16. However, after a run of just 2 wins in the first 12 games, he was dismissed and replaced by Manchester United youth coach Warren Joyce.
Many Latics fans believe that the new gaffer is out if his depth at this level. The Championship is a demanding league with a number of high quality players, managers and large clubs. •His obsession with defensive tactics and keeping clean sheets can be very frustrating given the blatant importance of scoring goals to win games. There comes the second major problem, the lack of goals. Latics have managed to score a measly 30 goals in 34 games, 2 less than the division’s whipping boys Rotherham United. Will Grigg, fan favourite and scorer of 27 goals last season, has been left on the bench for much of Joyce’s tenure at the club. Loss of form and confidence for the cult hero has been a major problem for the club.
•On a more positive note, the signing of Omar Bogle from Grimsby provides an element of hope. The young striker has scored 3 goals and looked the most lively of a largely misfiring forward line.
•The goalkeeping position has proved to be a huge issue as well. Firstly the hapless Adam Bogdan was given the number 1 shirt, but following a season- ending injury and an unsuccessful stint in net by veteran Jussi Jaaskelainen, Matt Gilks is currently holding the honour. Gilks, most famous for his season at Blackpool in the Premier League, has proved the best of the bunch so far.
How about the derby game?
With Blackburn currently occupying 22nd place, one above Wigan, there is no doubt that this is a huge 6- pointer. Blackburn have been showing real signs of improvement since replacing the hapless former Wigan manager Coyle with Tony Mowbray. They have taken 4 points from 2 games, having continued their form from their excellent display against Manchester United in the FA cup. However, Wigan are the experts at winning big 6- pointers, so expect this game to finish a score draw.
Bogle could be a good prediction for the first goal, but Latics have made a habit of throwing games away from good positions this season. They led 2-1 going into the last 15 minutes at Fulham, only to lose 3-2. In addition, they led 2- 1 at home to Norwich 2 weeks ago, again throwing away the lead to draw 2-2. Blackburn also lack goals in abundance, managing a below average 38 goals in 33 games, slightly better than Wigan. Premier League flop Danny Graham remains their best goal threat.
The outcome of this game could rely on Joyce’s desire to actually win the game, which has been all too often missing this season. If he takes a gamble and plays Grigg alongside Bogle, we could just see a vital three points travelling back to West Lancashire from Ewood Park come Saturday evening.