It’s been a strong start to the season from Wigan Athletic and they currently occupy one of the two automatic promotion places.
But will the Latics go the distance in their bid to gain promotion back up to the Championship at the first time of asking?
If Wigan does make it up to the Championship next season then it’s going to be worth checking out Footy Accumulators for Championship betting tips and previews ahead of each match.
Hitting the ground running
Wigan’s 28-point tally is their best total after 12 games since joining the Football League in 1978. They are the second-top scorers in the league and have also been mean defensively – conceding just seven times and keeping seven clean sheets along the way.
There is a feel-good factor around the club, and veteran midfielder David Perkins has pointed out that the fans’ magnificent support home and away has conjured up memories of the club’s last promotion to the Championship two years ago.
Several of Wigan’s victories could have been more comfortable if they’d taken their chances to kill teams off, but the fact that they are creating so many openings is positive for the season ahead. After last season’s relegation and a new management team put in place, it’s been a sound start to life in League One, with confidence high that the club can go straight back up.
Powell the man of the moment
One of the crucial factors in Wigan’s strong early season form has been the performances of former Manchester United youngster Nick Powell.
“Nick Powell is going to be a really good player,” said Sir Alex Ferguson said after watching him score on his United debut against Wigan in September 2012.
And so it is proving – to Wigan’s advantage. Powell is the club’s top scorer with six goals so far this season and former England midfielder Peter Reid, now a member of the club’s backroom staff, was waxing lyrical about the midfielder recently.
“That boy can be as good as he wants to be,” said Reid. “He has all the attributes you’d want to be a top Premier League player.
Of course with that you’ve got to work hard, and you’ve got to show it week in, week out. And I think he’s got the bit between his teeth at the moment.
He’s got a brilliant touch about him, he’s got a real feel for a pass.”
Latics will need Powell to stay fit this season if they are to get back up at the first time of asking.
Poor discipline to undermine Latics?
One of the biggest barriers in the way of Wigan gaining promotion this season may just be themselves.
The Latics have picked up four red cards in the league already this season – an average of one every three games. Manager Paul Cook has insisted after each red card that the squad does not have a disciplinary problem, but it is also clear that if this pattern continues, it will seriously undermine their promotion push, not to mention punters backing Wigan in live in play betting.
The feisty Sam Morsy also became the first player in England this season to serve a one-match suspension for picking up five yellow cards. Aggression is key to his game, but if he was to continue at this rate, he would finish the season with near on 20 yellow cards.
Callum Elder may have been unfortunate to receive his marching orders against MK Dons on the opening day of the season, but the other three cards were far less contentious.
Chey Dunkley didn’t make much contact when hitting out at Portsmouth’s Brett Pitman, but the intent was there.
Ryan Colclough was deservedly red carded for foul and abusive language towards the referee after the final whistle at Shrewsbury, while Lee Evans had to go after putting his head into the face of Scunthorpe’s Funso Ojo after a foul.
Cook will need to address this ill-discipline if the Latics promotion train is to continue chugging along.
Shrewsbury’s form has been a surprise to many and they currently sit at the top of League One. Tipped for relegation by many at the start of the season, they have over performed so far, so expect them to drop down the league as we enter winter.
Many people’s favourites at the start of the season, Blackburn have endured a rocky start to the campaign but look to be coming into form now with two wins in two. Expect Tony Mowbray’s men to push Wigan hardest after making a number of useful signings in the summer.
Bradford are the third favourites with many bookmakers and will push Wigan hard.
They lost the play-off final to Millwall last season but have recovered from that disappointment and sit just two points behind the Latics.
They’ve yet to lose away from home and, according to some bookies, more bets have been placed on them to win the League One title this month than any other club.
Feet on the ground
With a vociferous support, the form of Nick Powell and a tight backline, hopes are high that Wigan can return to the Championship in a speedy fashion.
But as Cook observed recently, in football you are ‘only a minute or two away from disaster’ and no one at the DW Stadium will be getting too ahead of themselves just yet.
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