It was a very pleasing result at Plymouth as Latics came through one of their toughest tests of the season. The large Home Park crowd had come with high expectations as their team were unbeaten in eight games and they wanted to see the league leaders toppled.
In an exciting end-to-end game both teams produced high quality attacking play, but it was Latics who were the more clinical and secured the three-points to extend their unbeaten league run to ten games and move five-points clear at the top of the table.
It is no overstatement to say that Latics’ away form under manager Paul Cook has been nothing short of phenomenal. Since the start of the season they have won 10, drawn 1 and lost 2, scoring 32 and conceding only 9.
After the Plymouth victory BBC journalist Paul Rowley tweeted that Latics’ fans who had seen the club’s record-breaking six successive away wins had each travelled 1,859 miles to watch the team. They have also seen an incredible 21 goals scored with just 3 conceded.
Luckily I’ve been able to attend all those away games and it’s been a privilege to watch Latics in such stunning form. They have been great away days and I would encourage all our supporters to get to as many away games as possible before the end of the season, so that they can experience some brilliant attacking football at first hand.
Latics next away day is on Tuesday night at Rochdale and I would hope as many fans as possible make the short trip to Spotland or the Crown Oil Arena as it’s now called. If it’s like any of the last six away games you are in for a real treat.
First though we have a small matter of an FA Cup fourth-round home tie against Premier League West Ham United. The national media spotlight will be on the game and Latics are certainly capable of causing another upset.
The unhappy Hammers have struggled this season under Slaven Bilic and they recently appointed David Moyes as manager in an attempt to keep them in the Premier League. Moyes has made an initial impact by stabilising their position but they are still only four points above the drop zone.
West Ham are also in the throes of an injury crisis and could be without up to 11 players for the game. Several of their top players are in the treatment room, including forwards Andy Carroll £10m, Manuel Lanzini £15m and Marko Arnautovic £20m.
Former Latics loanee Reece Burke saved the Hammers from a penalty shoot out against League One opposition in the last round when he scored in the second half of extra time as they edged out Shrewsbury.
The Premier League team will still be favourites to go through but David Moyes knows only too well that being favourites doesn’t necessarily equate into winning. His Everton team were expected to progress against Latics in the FA Cup quarter-final in 2013, and we all know how that ended.
This article was first published in the Wigan Evening Post on Friday 26th January 2018.