Talking football: Wigan Athletic aiming to KO their north-west hoodoo
The international break has meant an even longer build-up than usual, but we’re almost, almost there...
Bolton Wanderers v Wigan Athletic.
The Phoenix Club against Phoenix 2021 Limited.
Bragging rights at stake, as well as three precious points.
Earlier this week I spoke to Gary Caldwell, who scored the opening goal in Wigan’s last victory at Horwich – 10 seasons ago.
Far, far too long between drinks. And what better time to put that miserable record to bed than this weekend, with 4,000 Wiganers among a crowd expected to top 20,000.
As well as local honour, Latics are also looking to regain top spot in League One, with Plymouth having taken over during Leam Richardson’s men’s weekend off.
Bolton played last weekend, but went down to a 1-0 defeat at Sheffield Wednedday.
After the game, their manager Ian Evatt insisted his side were still the best team in the division – despite having won only five of their dozen league matches.
The comments have predictably been picked up by some fans, but you kind of see where Evatt’s coming from.
He’s clearly a glass half-full guy who’s trying to instill maximum belief into his players.
I actually thought Bolton showed signs of putting some good stuff together in the Carabao Cup tie back in August at the DW, which Latics won on penalties.
And they’ve had some big wins already this term – including 5-2 at Ipswich.
As they say, though, the league table doesn't lie - and it certainly won't at the end of the campaign.
In the blue corner, as expected, we saw no such bravado from Leam Richardson, who may well have written the textbook on pre and post-match comments.
Never too high after a win, never too low after a defeat, never one to speak too much about an opposition side, Richardson – who ironically coached Evatt during their days with Paul Cook at Chesterfield – knows his players will do the talking for him on the field.
But they’ll also be looking to shake off their back a monkey which has been there for far to long.
Saturday won’t be the first time in the last decade Latics have taken a bumper away following to a local rival.
But the performances on the field haven’t exactly mirrored that from the stands.
Three defeats out of three at Preston, with no goals scored and eight conceded.
Two draws and four defeats in the last six at Blackburn.
And since Caldwell and James McArthur bagged at the Reebok in February 2012, Latics have lost two and drawn two - making it an unlucky 13 derby fixtures without an away win.
Honours ended even on their last trip to Horwich, in December 2018.
Will Grigg was on target for the visitors that day, and Latics will hope some of their current forward players will be on fire this weekend to ensure a flaming good result.
Rather than the shadow of Keith Lard extinguishing hopes of derby-day delight yet again...
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