Wigan Athletic will be hoping to retain their Sky Bet Championship status in the final nine games of their season, but are by no means safe from the fear of relegation.
With all fixtures currently postponed until the 3rd April at the earliest, the Latics have some time to regroup for the final portion of what has been a dramatic Championship season.
Paul Cook’s side find themselves in 20th place having accumulated 41 points from their 37 games so far this campaign, what will encourage Wigan supporters most is that they currently have a two point gap over Charlton Athletic, who occupy the final place in the Championship relegation zone. The break seems to have come at the wrong time for Cook’s men as they were just about finding some very good form in recent weeks which has seen them go six games unbeaten with their last defeat coming at the start of February.
There have been some very impressive victories over some play-off chasing sides in that run including a shock 1-0 win over automatic promotion candidates West Bromwich Albion at the Hawthorns, with Sam Morsy’s 73rd minute strike separating the two sides.
In our latest FLW Six Pointer, we look into Wigan’s season so far and what they can hope for in their remaining nine league games.
How would you sum up Wigan’s season so far?
“It’s been another hard season for Wigan in the Championship this season with a real possibility that it could still end it tears with relegation back to League One.
“But they have found some excellent form since the turn of the year and have produced some impressive results against some of the sides that perhaps Wigan were not expecting to beat at the start of the campaign.
“They seem to be hitting form at just the right time as a lot of teams around them are struggling to find their rhythm in the business end of the season. They need to be careful with how they approach the final nine games because the confidence they gained from their unbeaten run could easily disappear after a month or so of not playing competitively.”
Who have you been most impressed with this season?
“I think the obvious one for me is Kieffer Moore. He has been their talisman and his goals have been crucial in helping Wigan secure some vital wins for their points tally. Obviously, he has had spells with Rotherham and Barnsley, and has proved that he can be a top striker in League One but this season to a lot of Wigan fans he has proved that he can score goals in the Championship.
“Antonee Robinson and Sam Morsy have been good as well this campaign for Wigan. Robinson was playing well enough for clubs like AC Milan to be interested in him, so I think it would be wrong to not include him, whereas Morsy has been exceptional this year and has patrolled that midfield excellently and has even shown that he can find the net with that winner at West Brom.”
How is their recent form?
“Wigan are the form team in the Championship right now, six games unbeaten at such a crucial part of the season suggests that they believe in their abilities. They have beaten some big teams on that run too so it shows that they shouldn’t fear anyone in the league at all.
“Wins against Millwall and West Brom stand out but it will be the games against Middlesbrough and Luton that will leave Cook frustrated. To be able to claw their way to safety they are going to need to beat teams around them in the table and they play a lot of sides around them once the action resumes.”
QUIZ: Can you name these 15-ex Wigan Athletic defenders?
Are they going to score enough goals to secure safety?
“Scoring goals is clearly an area of concern for Wigan at this moment in time, they often struggle to find the net with last weekend’s clash with Luton showcasing just that. They had some great opportunities in that game to give themselves three points but Simon Sluga was in inspired form and kept them out on several occasions.
“Kieffer Moore has six goals so far this season but then you look at the other players, not many of them have got over five goals, which is a real concern for Wigan. Chey Dunkley also had six goals but it looks like he’s going to miss ta chunk of the remaining campaign after picking up a nasty injury at Reading, so it becomes a big concern about where the goals will come from.
“They are the second lowest scoring side in the division and that will need to improve if they are to remain in the Championship next season.”
How crucial are the games against teams around them in the table?
“Crucial. I cannot emphasise enough how much these games will mean to Wigan and their survival prospects. If they have intentions of staying in the Championship for a third straight season then they are going to have to beat some of the sides around them in the table. Draws won’t be good enough like they have been in recent weeks, they will need to gain maximum points to drag themselves away from the other sides.
“They still have games with Huddersfield, Stoke, Barnsley, Hull and Charlton which are going to be massive for the Latics. These sides will be wanting to get out of trouble just as much as Cook’s men and a poor points return could easily see them slip back into the relegation zone before the end of the campaign.”
Finally, do Wigan have a realistic chance of staying up?
“Wigan have a great chance to retain their Championship status for another season and it will be great for them to know that their destiny is in their hands. Should they come out of the five games that I mentioned earlier with a decent points tally, that should be enough to see them not have to rely on creating an upset against Brentford or Fulham on the final day.
“The Latics are clear of the relegation zone and that’s a much better place to be in than inside those spots and with the run that they are currently on, they will have the confidence to beat those sides that stand in their way of Championship safety.”