They say the sign of a good team is the ability to pick up results when you’re not at your best, and Saturday was a fantastic example of that.
If any game could have been considered a potential banana skin it was the trip to Plymouth, coming after the super human efforts of the previous Wednesday against Bournemouth and up against a side that were on a run of consecutive wins and pushing hard for a play-off place.
The writing seemed to be on the wall when Latics fell behind midway through the first half but this Latics side are made of stern stuff, Will Grigg assisted by the impressive Nick Powell got Latics back on level terms instantly before a fantastic team goal rounded off by the improving Gavin Massey gave Latics the lead before half-time.
Paul Cook’s side were still made to work hard for the win but Dan Burn put things beyond doubt with his second goal in as many games. The win means that Latics have now won an impressive six away games in a row, a run that stretches all the way back to October and the win over Blackpool.
So it’s back to the FA Cup on Saturday and this match has the true buzz of a big match, it may only be five years since we were in the Premier League but it can often feel a world away. The fourth round draw threw up an interesting match with West Ham, they’ve struggled for the best part this season but like all Premier League clubs can be dangerous on their day. And in fairness to the much maligned David Moyes he’s managed to stabalise the Hammers and get some impressive wins along the way.
There’s a twinge of sadness that this match isn’t taking place at the Olympic Stadium for us ground hoppers but despite our impressive away form I think we have the best chance of progressing to the fifth round at home. The weather forecast predicts a cold and wet Lancashire afternoon on Saturday, throw in a bumper crowd swelled by 4,500 or so Hammers fans and it has all the ingredients for a cup upset. West Ham are reportedly in the midst of a mini injury crisis, whether that’s mind games on the part of the aforementioned Moyes or not we’ll find out on Saturday with the side that’s named.
That shouldn’t be the expectation though, Latics have done fantastically well this season but there is still a massive gulf in class between us and West Ham. A lot has happened to both clubs since that famous win in May 2011 that relegated the Hammers, there are very few connections left to that side in the current Wigan line-up but if they could summon the spirit of 2011 and show the fight, skill and heart that they did against Bournemouth last week we’ll have a chance. A slim chance, but a chance all the same.
It’s time for Wiganer’s to go out and get behind the lads on Saturday, £15 is a fantastic price for a cup game against a big London club like West Ham and long before the Premier League came along it’s the kind of draw Latics would have been desperate to pull out of the hat. The fact that this side are performing so well just adds to the attraction, West Ham have done their bit by selling out – if we could get a few more through the door it would make for a fantastic atmosphere and could well give us the edge on Saturday.
Come on Wigan, let’s get behind our lads.
First published in the Wigan Post, Friday 26th January 2018
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