Doing it the hard way

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Wigan Athletic do make it hard for us don’t they? Another away day, another loss and another Saturday evening left scratching our heads wondering how we lost that.

I mentioned last week that we had to guard against going to Portman Road expecting that Ipswich would roll over for us. Their terrible home record looked like the perfect opportunity for Latics to get back to winning ways on the road. But as we’ve seen countless times this season what looks a given on paper doesn’t actually translate to the pitch.

If you look at the stats from Saturday many will ask just how Latics managed to lose the match but lose it they did, giving Ipswich their first home win of the season – well it is the seasons of goodwill to all men I suppose.

Saturday’s match followed that well-worn path of Latics having all the play but taking none of the chances. Something is clearly wrong on the road, especially when you look at the stats of the match and it’s a psychological block that Paul Cook and the players simply must get over as it’s beginning to affect our season.

As with Preston, Millwall and QPR earlier in the season Latics arrived at Portman Road clear favourites against a side struggling at the wrong end of the table and as with Preston, Millwall and QPR Latics came away empty handed thanks to a defensive lapse and a lack of cutting edge upfront.

I suppose if we had beaten sides like Ipswich, Millwall and Preston yet lost to Stoke and West Brom people wouldn’t be as concerned about our form. As it is we’ve beaten sides we weren’t expected to and lost to sides we were expected to beat.

At home Latics are a completely different prospect, and it’s the home form that is seeing us keep our heads above water. Let us be in no doubt injuries have had a massive effect on our form this season. With players returning and the January transfer window opening soon we have to hope pressure will be eased on a stretched squad, with any luck our away form in the second half of the season will be better than it has been in the first.

There is an argument to say that Wigan are in their natural place in the table which is true to some extent. We’ve had some big results against the teams at the top end of the table this season which makes the losses against Ipswich all the more frustrating but I have every faith that Paul Cook and the management team will turn things around again.

With Birmingham on Saturday it’s important we get three points, the trip to the Hawthorns on Boxing Day looks ominous and as a result it would be good to go in to the Christmas period with a win. Gary Monk’s side have recovered from a disappointing start to the season and won’t be an easy proposition, Latics will have to be at their best to collect three points but they are a much needed three points.

Let’s hope we can do it.

Sean Livesey

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