Baggies will provide Latics with stiffest test of the season

Dwight Gayle

On-loan Newcastle striker Dwight Gayle

Latics’ unbeaten home record will be severely tested as free-scoring West Bromwich Albion come to the DW Stadium on Saturday.

Latics may have won four and drawn two of their home games so far but the Baggies are currently second in the Championship table and on a fine run of form, which has seen them unbeaten in their last eight league games.

They have only lost once away from home all season at Middlesbrough back in August. The favourites for promotion are certainly well equipped for a quick return to the top flight with experienced Premier League performers such as Jake Livermore, Chris Brunt, Matt Phillips, Kieran Gibbs, Craig Dawson and Ahmed Hegazi.

They are the highest scorers in the division having already hit 31 goals in 12 games and with the attacking trio of Jay Rodriguez, Harvey Barnes and Dwight Gayle will pose a major threat to any team.

The on-loan Newcastle striker Gayle already has eight goals to his name with Rodriguez on seven and Barnes on five.

As well as a strong starting eleven the Baggies have plenty of experience in the squad with former Aston Villa, Manchester City, Everton and England midfielder Gareth Barry.

The 37-year-old has played an incredible 770 senior games and has made seven appearances for the Baggies this season.

Also in contention for a starting place is former Crystal Palace and Mali attacking midfielder Bakary Sako who has recently signed a contract until the end of the season.

Manager Darren Moore has made a very successful start to his managerial career since taking over in April this year losing only four of his 21 games in charge.

He is assisted by the former Latics striker and coach Graeme Jones who has swapped his role as assistant to Roberto Martinez with the Belgian national team.

Jones is a very experienced coach and could easily be managing at this level by now but he seems to prefer the Number Two role for the time being.

Paul Cook will be expecting a big reaction from the players after such a poor display against Preston.

He will have been working hard on the training ground to regain some confidence and I expect some changes to the starting eleven after some very poor individual performances at Deepdale.

Dan Burn could come into a back three with Cedric Kipre and Chey Dunkley but if he decides to stick with his usual 4-2-3-1 formation Cook’s biggest conundrum could be who he decides to play as the lone striker.

Will Grigg suffered a hamstring injury playing for Northern Ireland against Austria last Friday night and is doubtful. Josh Windass or Joe Garner could be given the nod but James Vaughan is also now fit and available for selection.

Another option would be to use Nick Powell in that role but he was injured in the first half against PNE and may also be doubtful for the game.

Whoever is selected, Latics will have to be at their best against formidable opponents. It will certainly be a big scalp if they can pull off a victory against the Championship favourites.

Latics’ testing run of games continues at Millwall on Tuesday night before they travel to league leaders Sheffield United and then face Leeds United at the DW on Sunday 4th November before going up to Teesside to play Tony Pulis’s Middlesbrough.

How Latics fare in these fixtures should provide a strong indication of whether they will be heading for the play-offs or fighting a relegation battle.

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About ianhaspinall

Communications specialist, Wigan Athletic fan & blogger, interested in music, arts & culture.
This entry was posted in Championship, Darren Moore, Dwight Gayle, Graeme Jones, West Bromwich Albion, Wigan Athletic and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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