These previews are starting to follow an all too familiar formula of late: Latics need points to try and snap out of an extended losing run before the season escalates into a full-on disaster before we even hit December. Continuing in the positive vein I’ve resolved to take (mostly in the interests of preventing the onset of hair loss), such trivialities shall be skirted over in favour of a more forward-thinking attitude. On that note, let’s take a quick look at how Latics might lineup come 1.30pm on Sunday.
Given the absence of Gary Caldwell, one would suggest the exact formation of Wigan’s back four is subject to much speculation. However, I would be inclined to have Boyce ‘do a job’ in the centre of defence, which would not necessarily be all that problematic for the sometime centre back. There are alternatives, of course – Maynor Figueroa, who has occupied such a role for a couple of games this campaign, could also be switched to the centre. I wouldn’t favour this, however, as I’d rather have him (or perhaps Van Aanholt) at left wing back. Ben Watson may be forced to play a slightly more defensive role to cover any holes left by a more unfamiliar backline.
I predict a starting berth for James McArthur in the heart of the midfield, assuming Mohamed Diame fails to pass the fitness test. A wild card might also be James McCarthy, but a lot of this would depend on how well he and McArthur have comparatively been performing in training. Other than that, the forward line will probably remain unchanged, unless Roberto decides to try something new. For example, Sammon or Di Santo may join Rodders up front in a more unusual 4-1-3-2. A lot depends on how much he thinks must be altered in order to get Latics scoring again.
Obvious talismen are the wingers, Crusat and Moses, who, we hope, shall be seeing a lot of attacking possession. Martinez also hopes Hugo Rodallega will be back to his old self and have a bigger impact on proceedings than of late, possibly leading to some long-awaited goals. The Colombian has been plagued with fitness problems this season, which has undoubtedly contributed to the lack of attacking firepower these past few months.
Wolves have been on a similarly disappointing run of late, grabbing just one point in their last seven games, which just about trumps Wigan’s zero in the equivalent time period. They have injury doubts in Fletcher, Zubar and Foley, but will be just as eager as the visitors to turn things around and get the fans back on their side. All of which makes for another intriguing encounter, a true nine-pointer of monster proportions.
Fun fact (via ITVFootball): Victor Moses has had the most shots in the Premier League this season without finding the net. 32 shots without scoring.