Latics welcome Millers to The DW Stadium for second meeting of season.
After a much changed Latics side was knocked out of the Carabao Cup back in round one by The Millers, the focus now switches to the main priority and taking valuable league points from a side that will more than likely be one of the sides that should we finish below we will be relegated come the end of the season.
Rotherham responded to a disappointing 2016/2017 season in which they finished rock bottom of this division by joining us in promotion after a Wembley win over Shrewsbury in the Playoff Final last season to return at the first time of asking, but with a smaller budget than ourselves they are one of the sides that you would expect to be battling with relegation for most of the seaosn so this is a valuable three points in the landscape of the season.
The cup clash between the two sides a few weeks ago will have absolutely no bearing on what happens tomorrow afternoon especially considering the number of changes we made to the side and the fact that they made 8 changes themselves to the side that played Everton in midweek so just as ourselves they have clearly placed their main focus on survival.
Our league displays this season have been pretty encouraging despite some of the results. After the result at Stoke, the loss to QPR at the weekend was a major disappointment considering their start to the season, but it didn’t surprise me one little bit that it was us that they got their first win against. We always seem to be the side that kick starts someones season be it an individual scoring their first goal for a club (Peter Crouch anyone?) or a side getting their first win after a bad run of results. The goal was a clear foul on Chey Dunkley which the official really should have spotted but we had several opportunities to win the game or at least get a point and we would have deserved to do so but that’s football and we need to learn from the mistakes and move on.
Defensively this season we have been pretty disappointing but hopefully conceding just 1 in the last 2 games means we are on the right track to fixing it although against Stoke we could have easily been 3 or 4 down in the opening 20 minutes had they brought their shooting boots. Our dominance after the Will Grigg goal was pleasing but we need to take control of games in midfield sooner than we did because some games will go the other way and we will be staring at a 3 or 4 goal deficit if we gift as many chances to sides as we did that night. Take nothing away from the last hour though, we were simply superb and showed that we do belong at this level.
You can never guess a Paul Cook XI as he seems to make the odd little change here and there such as switching Massey and McManaman at Villa Park and then back again against Forest. Massey will miss the game through the injury he picked iup last week as will Michael Jacobs so Callum should start on one side with Josh Windass on the other however if the rumours of Nick Powell leaving the club today are true then he would certainly be in the starting lineup anyway but Jamie Walker or Gary Roberts may also get a chance should Powell leave the club. Hopefully the fluidity of our attack won’t be affected too much by the changes as I think we will have too much for Rotherham going forward we just need to make sure we take our chances so that any mistakes at the other end either from ourselves or the official don’t hurt us too much. These are the games that we HAVE to win with results against the likes of Stoke being a bonus result. Let’s face it we would all take a 21st placed finish this season.
Who can forget the last time we played Rotherham at home in the Championship? Twice behind to goals from Danny Ward and Anthony Forde, Gabriel Obertan and Alex Gilbey had scored equalisers but a point was nowhere near good enough to Latics’ bid for survival. Step forward Nick Powell. A 97th minute winner off the bench after a rather strange encounter with Millers keeper Lewis Price sent the home fans potty, but sadly the result wasn’t enough to preserve our Championship status on that occasion.