From hope to despair and back to hope again.

That sums up the current roller coaster that is Wigan Athletic in 2017.

Last week’s hard earned point against Norwich looked like it was going to be the platform for another upward journey on the rollercoaster. Leading at Fulham for most of the second half, Latics fans could be forgiven for thinking that Latics were about to get the first win at Fulham for 11 years.

As it was the rollercoaster was entering in to another dip. To concede so late must have been an absolute sickner for the players, let alone those at Craven Cottage. I’m sure others shared my concern that the last minute defeat would have a detrimental effect on Tuesday’s performance against Wolves.

Those concerns were unfounded as Latics did their own smash and grab job in the West Midlands, in he process earning their first double of the season. There’s no underestimating how important a win this could be for Warren Joyce’s side. It was one of those classic backs against the wall performances. Not pretty – by any stretch but so important.

Next up it’s the local derby against Preston North End, or not if you listen to the PNE fans across social media.

Apparently we’re not their rivals and not a derby. File that alongside Bolton fans who think the same. If a fixture with as much recent history as ours and with so little distance between the two sides isn’t considered a derby I don’t know what is. Local derby or not the atmosphere should be fantastic on Saturday, Latics need to make that work in their favour.

North End are in great form, but there’s nothing to stop us upsetting the form book. A win could be a real shot in the arm to our survival bid. Gabriel Obertan made his first appearance on Tuesday and although I doubt he’ll start on Saturday, his pace could be crucial in the next few weeks. We’ve got a great chance over the next few games. Let’s hope the lads take it.

Sean Livesey

First published in the Wigan Evening Post, Friday 17th February 2017.

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