Brentford v Wigan Athletic – Sky Bet Championship – 4th July 2020
Final Trip To Griffin Park Takes On Even Bigger Significance
They say that things can change quickly in football and as fans of Wigan Athletic we know that more than most, but the change in fortunes of our club from 9.30pm on Tuesday night to around 12.30pm on Wednesday afternoon seems almost unprecedented. After a thumping 3-0 win against Stoke had lifted us 8 points above the drop zone (now 7) we find ourselves inexplicably thrown into administration and effectively 4 points from safety. Much deeper than that though, we now find ourselves fighting for our club.
I don’t want to talk too much about the goings on of the administration in this piece but it is obviously going to have a huge impact on the final six matches of the season and with the looming points deduction means that this trip to fellow in-form side Brentford is now much bigger than just being our final ever game at Griffin Park.
Famous for having a pub on every corner of the ground, Griffin Park has been a favourite venue for Latics fans down the years, but more recently it hasn’t really been a happy hunting ground with our last two visits resulting in a final day 3-0 defeat after we were already relegated to League One in 2017, and last seasons visit ended in a 2-0 defeat after a Samy Morsy sending off. Although that was rightly overturned on appeal. Prior to Wednesday I wouldn’t have been too concerned were we to lose to the promotion chasing Bees, but now we simply must pick up points from every single one of our final games and preferably three points at that.
The way we’ve played recently there is no reason at all why we can’t go there and get a win we so valuably need. After all, we went to Elland Road and The Hawthorns during this run and did exactly that. Brentford themselves are in tremendous form matching our last five results to pick up 13 points and they do actually sit above us in the form league on goal difference if based on the last five, but in the five prior to that they only picked up six points so they are far from invincible even if they do have the leagues leading scorer Ollie Watkins. Personally, I hope that Brentford get promoted, with any luck at the expense of Leeds, but they’ll have to do it having lost to us tomorrow.
The news from earlier in the week appears to have spurred the players on based on their social media comments (although I’m not sure any of them would have actually posted – “**** it I’m off” if that was their attitude towards things) and confidence has to be high after a run of no defeats in nine and seven straight clean sheets which is currently the longest in the country with only ourselves not conceding a goal since February 16th in all four leagues. From that perspective, this news has come at a time when being four points from safety doesn’t feel all that daunting whereas had we lost twelve points around Christmas time we would all probably have thrown in the towel. Paul Cook has rightly decided to suspend media activity this week to focus on preparing the players and I expect him to have them chomping at the bit come 3pm tomorrow afternoon, and I also expect him to keep the same side from Tuesday night with Kal Naismith starting in place of Michael Jacobs. The win on Tuesday was possibly our best performance of the season and so provided the players are capable of going around again which I understand they may not be at this stage of what is basically pre-season there is no reason why we should be making changes and I can see us going there and pulling off another “backs to the wall” win.
COVID-19 has had a major impact on the sporting landscape across the world and is being partially blamed for our situation and it is these final games where we as fans will start to feel its impact even more. Just when our club needs us to pull together and do everything we can to get behind it we are unable to do so in the ways we usually would. I can guarantee that if we hadn’t sold out already for this trip that the news on Wednesday would have ensured that we did, and that it would be one of the most vocal and passionate followings of the season. The same for our trips to Barnsley and Charlton and a few thousand would probably have been added to the gates for our remaining home games. None of that is possible and we’re left to watching the game at home on the TV. A strange experience that has probably just become a little more strange.
Nevertheless I know that every single one of us no matter what our opinions throughout the season will all be on the same page on Saturday afternoon and for the remainder of the season. We have always been a club that has punched above its weight and done things that we have had no right to do and I don’t see this being any different. We defy the odds – It’s in our DNA.
Up The Tics!!
Cockney Latic Prediction – 1-0 Latics