Lapping it up

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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 on Saturday.

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 7 points behind us, which may as well be 8 unless their goal difference dramatically improves. If we can maintain that gap till the end of the month, then it would be an 8 point gap with 17 games to go, which would mean they’d need to collect half a point more per game, or they’d need to win three more games than us for the rest of the season.

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 at the death.

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 4th 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!

Article first published in the Wigan Evening Post’s 12th Man column on Friday 12th January 2018

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