Latics will be looking to move above local rivals Preston North End and out of the bottom three with a victory tonight at Deepdale. Both teams are struggling for a run of consistent form, with Latics having only gained one point in their last five league games, and the Lilywhites having won two in five.
Preston were hammered 5-0 at Brentford last Saturday although they defeated Bournemouth after extra time in the League Cup on Tuesday night.
Manager Simon Grayson lamented his players ‘kamikaze performance’ at Griffin Park and a similar defensive display would certainly ease Latics’ task at Deepdale.
There were plenty of signs of improvement for Latics against Fulham last Saturday. They were more solid in defence with none of the individual errors that have blighted the team’s early season results.
Going forward they created plenty of chances and with a better final cross/pass and a little luck they would have taken all three points.
Shaun MacDonald had his best game in Wigan colours and is starting to show why he was signed as a replacement for Sam Morsy. The Wales international midfielder won important tackles, passed the ball effectively and provided good protection for the back four.
Latics will be looking to exploit Preston’s defensive vulnerabilities tonight and with Will Grigg in the team they are always capable of getting a good result. Service to the prolific marksman will be a crucial aspect if they are to be successful.
Latics have the players who can provide the ammunition for Grigg with Jordi Gomez, Michael Jacobs and Yanic Wildschut all prominent creators.
Michael Jacobs has had a good start to the season but there is a feeling that he is still capable of doing a bit more in the final third.
Yanic Wildschut can sometimes be a frustrating player as he can more often than not beat his marker but his final cross or shot can let him down.
The Dutchman has great pace and created numerous chances last season scoring nine goals, if he can just be more consistent with his final ball he will be a top player in the Championship.
Jordi Gomez was in great form against Fulham and his quality passing set up some excellent chances for Latics.
In a tight game when space can be at a premium every team needs a player who can play the pass that nobody else can see. Jordi’s ability to find the killer pass and his delivery from set-pieces could have a big say on the final result at Deepdale.
This article was first published in the 12th Man column for the Wigan Evening Post on Friday 23rd September 2016.