It was a tense end to the Championship season for Wigan Athletic last time out, as our reputation of strong finishers once again came to the fore to spare the blushes of relegation to League One.
Latics were unbeaten in their final five fixtures of last season, whilst we won three of our final four games to cement a place in the Championship.
It was a turbulent season for the club on and off the field with the change of ownership midway through the campaign undoubtedly having an effect on their performances on the field. However, much like all the other clubs in the Championships, we will begin the 2019-20 season dreaming that the team could possibly spring a surprise in the second tier this season. But is it crucial that they start well?
Wigan’s Opening Fixtures
Wigan started the last campaign in a strong run of form, losing just three games in out of the opening nine; a run that saw us sitting pretty in third place in the Championship. We will be hoping to match that start once again in 2019-20. These are the Latics opening five fixtures:
• Cardiff City (H)
• Preston North End (A)
• Leeds United (H)
• Middlesbrough (A)
• Queens Park Rangers (A)
Fans will be able to get a good overview of how our season may pan out from these opening fixtures as the team will come up against three teams that will be expected to compete for promotion and two teams that will likely be locked in a relegation battle. A respectable start to the season would likely see Latics pick up a minimum of four points in these opening fixtures. But it is imperative not to lose all of these fixtures. Five defeats out of the opening five would leave us in a dangerous position, and the morale of the squad would quickly be diminished.
We will begin the season high on form after only losing once during their pre-season fixtures. However, this defeat was a shocking one at the hands of non-league Fylde albeit a mixture of youth with the 1st team. This was an even more surprising result after it came off the back of a 7-1 victory against Chester FC. We haven’t won since this opening pre-season fixture and following the defeat to Fylde were draws against Bradford City, Everton and Burnley.
Back to back draws against Premier League opposition would clearly be a morale-boosting performance, but in their final game against the Clarets, they also scored twice. Scoring may be our biggest concern ahead of the new season after we struggled for goals in the middle of last season. Meanwhile, we seem to have addressed the defensive issues, and should concede fewer than the 64 goals that they let in last season.
The aim for the season would clearly be maintaining our Championship status for another season. Bet365 currently offer a price of 10/3 for Latics to be relegated. Also, you can find the latest bet365 offers on bestbetsfree.com if you’re wanting to make the most of these odds. This makes us the fourth favourites for the drop, which just highlights the troubles that Wigan could endure over the next nine months.
It has been a big summer of changes for the club as we have lost experienced players such as Darren Gibson, Jonas Olsson and Callum McManaman. However, the most significant loss that the club has had to endure is the departure of Nick Powell. The former Manchester United man was the clubs player of the season last term and ended the campaign as the Latics top goal scorer.
The club was hopeful of agreeing on an extension to his contract, but ultimately Powell rejected any further advances and decided to move to Stoke City. Wigan have been quick to replace their star man and have brought in Lewis Macleod from Brentford. The midfielder has proven Championship quality and could be our best hope of staying up this season.
The squad has also reinforced their defensive positions with the arrivals of David Marshall and Antonee Robinson from Hull City and Everton respectively. Marshall will undoubtedly be the clubs number one choice keeper for the coming season, and his experience will be crucial in their hopes of remaining in the Championships. However, Paul Cook will need to utilise the loan market and sign a new striker if they are to enhance their chances of staying in the division. If they don’t, it could be a long season for Latics.
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