Our panel of experts run the rule over last week’s FA Cup draw at Bournemouth and this weekend’s League One visit of Peterborough...
Big game this weekend! I’m not quite sure what has happened to Peterborough since they got over-excited in September after putting us to the sword but they are still a very, very dangerous attacking team.
After two goal-less blips at home, it can only be hoped that the forward thinking members of Wigan Athletic’s team will bring their shooting boots to the DW.
To suggest we are out for revenge implies that we are overly bothered about the Posh but we’ve just got to do what we have done to many of the other teams that have arrived at the DW and collect the three points.
Given that the teams in second and third are playing each other on the same day, a win cannot fail to put some more distance between one or both of them.
Even the victors of that game will be disappointed if they come off the field if our result has matched or bettered theirs.
Sometimes, it’s as much about grinding down the teams you aren’t playing as well as the ones you are.
Shrewsbury may have their eye on top spot, Blackburn are just looking (for the time being!) to get into the top two.
Me, I’d like Bradford to join us because as the season has gone I’ve developed a dislike for both of the other two for different reasons.
Logic prevails that if we at least maintain the same gap after each game, then the other teams have one game less to catch us up with.
Blackburn are currently seven points behind us, which may as well be eight unless their goal difference dramatically improves.
It’s not impossible for Blackburn or Shrewsbury to maintain or improve their current form, or for the pair of them to overtake us but essentially, if we can maintain our form then we should be fine.
So it is “just” another game in a long season but three points would definitely make us better off in that sense so I hope we can take advantage.
There are some movements in the squad: Lee Evans will be a big miss, but the offer of higher level football always going to result in him going elsewhere, whereas Jamie Walker coming in isn’t quite match fit yet.
Ivan Toney has gone back to Newcastle after a spell which can best be described as “mixed”.
The final comment on form must go to an impervious defence, and let’s hope Evans didn’t have too much of a hand in this.
If we’re not conceding then we can’t lose though and hopefully we can take this submarine door level of tightness into future league games, despite leakages in the cup.
As for the FA Cup, well I know everyone won’t agree with me but I think the sooner we are out of it the better so can concentrate solely on getting out of this division.
I was delighted when we went 2-0 up and felt sorry for the travelling fans when the Cherries clawed it back.
I’ll be at the replay but sadly the DW is a grim, windswept place on such nights and I’m not sure what we can do to solve that particular conundrum.
I’m not sure the draw for the fourth round is a particularly enlightening one either. I’d propose that if we ended up playing Shrewsbury again, someone could perhaps paint a wall outside and we could all watch it dry rather than enduring another 90 minutes of the Shrews’ tactics.
Whoops, halo slipped again!
Thirty seconds, thirty seconds away from a famous win that would have seen Wigan Athletic in to the draw for the fourth round of the FA Cup for the second season running.
That was how close it was for Paul Cook’s side on Saturday, the difference between a penalty being given and a split second decision not to give it.
Latics had battled manfully against Premier League Bournemouth in the second half, after dominating the first half at Dean Court.
Two quick fire goals had seen Latics go ahead on the South Coast and it wouldn’t have been generous to say Latics could have had a third.
The penalty decision that wasn’t could and possibly should have been the moment the game changed, with the benefit of TV replays it’s still difficult to see whether the referee was right or not – on first glance it looks like a definite penalty.
Others would say Ivan Toney simply fell over, but he was in such a great position I fail to see why he would have gone down without any contact.
The last minute equaliser was the ultimate kick in the teeth for Latics and with the games coming thick and fast I imagine it wasn’t what either manager would have wanted.
As it is Latics get the chance to do it all again, but I fear the chance for a famous victory will have passed – as surely Bournemouth won’t be as poor for a second time.
But then again, they face Arsenal on the Sunday before the replay and West Ham on the Saturday so perhaps just perhaps Eddie Howe’s mind may be on other things.
The final act of Ivan Toney’s Wigan Athletic career rather summed up most of his time with the club, he’s faced some extremely harsh criticism in recent weeks but equally he hasn’t lived up to the hype that surrounded him when we signed him on loan from Newcastle in the summer.
Noel Hunt is an excellent option from the bench but of course at his age he isn’t going to be considered a regular starter so the club will need to find some new fire power from somewhere.
Whether that involves laying any money out or another loan deal will probably depend on whether the much discussed takeover deal gets the green light, if not Latics may well be looking at someone to come in to make up the numbers and hoping Will Grigg doesn’t pick up any injuries.
Whereas not many will be too worried about Toney leaving many will be concerned at the departure of Lee Evans, Sheffield United have got an excellent deal – getting the midfielder for £750k.
Many Latics fans have complained why we didn’t make a similar signing but the reality is we simply don’t have that money anymore.
£750k may have been small fry in the past but with little in the way of income being generated and no parachute payments anymore this is the new reality we have to face.
Luckily we have Max Power and Shaun MacDonald ready to step in so it’s not all bad in the Wigan Athletic engine room.
It’s back to league matters on Saturday as Peterborough of the famous ‘lap of honour fame’ visit the DW on Saturday, I’m sure there’ll be a bit of bite after their celebrations following the victory in the return match earlier this season.
Hopefully Paul Cook and his side can get back to winning ways at home and show Peterborough why you should never celebrate too early.
It has been quite a busy week in Latics Land. There are not many occasions when a League One club would find a two all draw with a Premier League club disappointing, but it was when we were two-nil up at half-time and still ahead just a minute or two before the final whistle.
The fact that we more than held our own against a top flight team should be very positive, and indeed may make us think that we could have a decent shot at surviving in the Premier League, let alone the Championship – but we shouldn’t jump to such conclusions.
It is back to the league this weekend with the visit of Peterborough to the DW.
Peterborough’s form has been quite erratic this season with a strong start followed by too much inconsistency which has seen them fall back into mid-table obscurity. Still ,they are a dangerous team who I am sure will give us a good game, but this match gives us a chance to get revenge for one of our three defeats in the first half of the season.
Then on Wednesday we have the replay against Bournemouth.
It will be interesting to see the team selection for the replay.
With it being a midweek game, it might be that the manager will make some changes, especially with the long trip to Plymouth the following weekend, although players shouldn’t get too tired from playing two games in a week.
The fourth round draw was also a little disappointing.
Should we get past Bournemouth on Wednesday, we will not face a glamour tie at Manchester United like last year, rather we will host a game against either West Ham or Shrewsbury.
Personally I would prefer to play Shrewsbury, not just because it should offer a better chance to progress but because it will also offer an opportunity to beat a team that we’ve failed to beat twice this year so far.
The past week has also seen two players leave and one arrive.
Jamie Walker caused some alarm bells because the description of him sounded a little too like Nick Powell and so it was assumed that he was the replacement for Nick.
But then it was reported that Powell might sign a new contract at Latics if the rumoured club takeover takes place.
Having Walker at the club may simply offer us competition for places and someone to bring on for the last 60 minutes of the game after Powell has gone off injured.
The departure of loanees Lee Evans and Ivan Toney teach us something that will be important in the future. Lee was recalled by Wolves simply so that he could be sold to Sheffield United for £750,000.
In football these days, that does not sound like a lot of money.
But don’t be fooled by the big money signings going on elsewhere.
Latics may be a big club, it may be a great club, it may be the best football club in the world to support (and I genuinely believe that it is) but it is not a rich club.
The days of multi-million pound signings at Latics are over, unless new investment can be found – and even then it may not give us the spending power to truly compete with other clubs.
The financial information released last week made it clear that the club spends more that it makes through its normal operations.
Last year’s profit came from the parachute payments from the Premier League days, which have now ended, and the sale of Yanic Wildschut to Norwich.
The future of Latics is likely to be lower wages bills and finding younger players who can be sold on at a profit to keep the club afloat.
We cannot even assume that new owners would change this because we cannot be sure of what their business model would be.
As fans, we cannot really complain about the lack of big spending unless we are all down at the club shop emptying our pockets out.
The departure of Toney also teaches us that a new club “hate” figure is required.
While I don’t think that the fans actually hated Ivan, he got more abuse than he deserved, even though he was frustrating at times.
Finally we are all really saddened to hear about the death of former player Juan Carlos Garcia this week.
News like this always puts footballing matters of results, rivalries and transfers into perspective.
While he only made one appearance for Latics, he seems to have been a popular player around the club and his death at the age of just 29 is an obvious tragedy, especially for his family and friends.
The minute’s silence before Saturday’s game will be an emotional time and we must remember what a terrible disease leukaemia is, as are all cancers.
So, just nine days into the transfer window, we’ve seen two out of the door – Lee Evans and Ivan Toney – and, at the time of writing, one in (Jamie Walker).
Evans had his fans this season, but I have to say I haven’t been quite so enamoured with him.
Don’t get me wrong, he’s been solid enough, but he’s hardly set the pitch alight.
I’ll be glad that we can look to get Shaun MacDonald back.
He was one of our best players before he got injured, so let’s hope he’s back to his best quickly.
I defended Toney in my 12th Man column a couple of weeks ago, but the Christmas/New Year period did nothing to endear him to most Latics fans.
After missing a golden chance against Shrewsbury on Boxing Day, and then simply falling over in the last minute at Bournemouth, fans weren’t shy about venting their feelings.
As regards the Bournemouth chance, it looks to me like he was waiting for a touch from the keeper that never came.
That’s not to say he dived, just that he’d already relaxed, ready to go down, so when his foot slipped a little, there was no way back.
Either way, his recall by Newcastle will probably bring one of the biggest cheers of the season so far.
The only signing so far has been Walker, a winger, from Hearts.
If we just take raw stats, as so many do these days, then 37 goals in 155 appearances for Hearts is no mean feat for any midfielder.
We have lacked pace on the wing, so it’ll be nice to see someone tearing it up a bit.
Finally, after a couple of years where it seems we’ve had to mourn the loss of an ex-player all too often, this week we lost another in Juan Carlos Garcia.
At a time when we were having great success signing Central American players, particularly from Honduras, Juan came with great promise in 2013.
Unfortunately, it never really worked out for him at Latics on the field, and in the second year of his contract he was diagnosed with leukaemia.
Sadly, he lost his battle against his illness on Monday this week. RIP.
For the first week in January, Wigan’s presence in the transfer window was almost irrelevant.
However, since Paul Cook’s press conference after the demoralising 2-2 draw away at AFC Bournemouth, Wiganers have been refreshing their Twitter feeds furiously!
On Monday, things started to look up when the gaffer landed his man – Jamie Walker.
The last player to have joined the club for a transfer fee being Jack Byrne, let’s hope this signing proves to be more successful.
The 24-year-old has made 176 appearances for the Edinburgh club, scoring 43 times, as well as appearing for Scotland Under-21s.
Walker can play in the ‘Number 10’ role, as well as providing healthy competition for Michael Jacobs on the left, but his best chance of getting in the starting team would be on the right, replacing Gavin Massey, you’d imagine.
Ivan Toney’s loan spell was cut short by Newcastle chief Rafael Benitez as he was unhappy due to the lack of starts the frontman was getting.
It goes without saying that another striker is needed, but with the Latics destined to be promoted, it would make sense for Championship standard players to be recruited.
However, there are probably none available who would sign for us on a permanent basis, only to be back-up to Will Grigg.
Does Cook trust the academy and recall the on-form Callum Lang from his loan spell at Morecambe, or does he leave Callum to develop and look elsewhere to bring in another loan striker to play second fiddle to Grigg?
Either way, with plenty more twists and turns to come this window, I’m sure if one striker comes in, all Latics fans will be delighted with another solid window, which will hopefully lead to a promotion.
It’s been a very eventful week at Wigan Athletic with FA Cup drama, transfer activity, a tragic death and the prospect of a difficult game against Peterborough United. It was a great performance at Premier League Bournemouth.
With the game moving into added time Latics should have had a penalty when Ivan Toney was pushed in the back by defender Adam Smith.
Having watched the video replay back numerous times I’m convinced that Toney was pushed in the area.
The decision was doubly cruel as Bournemouth went up the other end and equalised through Steve Cook.
After the game news emerged that loanee midfielder Lee Evans would be moving to Sheffield United from parent club Wolves for £750,000.
Evans has been integral to Latics’ success this season forming a great partnership with Sam Morsy in front of the back four.
He has also scored two cracking goals against Bury and Crawley.
He will clearly be missed but Latics will be hoping that the in-form Max Power and the returning Shaun MacDonald can fill the gap.
Next to leave was another loanee, Ivan Toney.
The striker scored six goals as understudy to the now fit again Will Grigg.
The first of several expected signings arrived this week when Hearts Jamie Walker joined the club for a fee in the region of £300,000 on a two-and- a-half-year deal.
The challenge now is to see if he can make the transition to English football.
There was very sad news on Tuesday when it emerged former Latics player Juan Carlos Garcia had died from leukaemia aged just 29.
A minute’s silence will be held in honour of Juan Carlos ahead of tomorrow’s match against Peterborough.
I’m expecting the Posh to provide a stern test at the DW.
The prolific Jack Marriott has scored 23 goals in all competitions this season and he will pose a big threat.
I’m going to stick my neck out and predict a high scoring game with Latics coming out on top.
So close, but yet so far! Wigan were just one minute away from pulling off a shock upset at AFC Bournemouth.
But I’m immensely proud of the lads, as many teams in our position would have sat back and parked the bus against Premier League opposition.
It shows that the Latics have the capability to compete with top tier sides, and shows great potential for the future.
Christian Walton’s run of six consecutive clean sheets sadly came to an end on Saturday, however, Walton will be hoping he can return with a clean sheet this weekend.
Wigan’s defence has been a consistent unit throughout the season, with the Latics conceding just 12 goals in the league in mid-January.
That is an outstanding record, and all of the back four deserve high credit, with Morsy and Evans also playing a crucial role sitting in front of the backline.
It has been quite a busy week for the Latics in terms of transfers.
The Latics won their lengthy pursuit of Hearts star Jamie Walker, with the forward joining on a two-and-a-half-year deal.
’m excited to see Walker in action at the DW, although unfortunately it won’t be for a few weeks due to his injury knock in the Edinburgh derby.
Toney’s recall mean that Wigan currently have one fully-fit striker at the club in Will Grigg, so I would imagine the Latics will be looking to add a few strikers to their squad this month.
Finally, my thoughts go out to Juan Carlos Garcia’s young family.
I personally feel it could be a really nice touch if we can retire the number 23 shirt in his honour.