- Wigan Athletic v Aston Villa match preview.
- Graham Barrow: “Our supporters deserve a performance.”
- Latics look to bounce back under Barrow
WIGAN ATHLETIC v ASTON VILLA
SKY BET CHAMPIONSHIP
SATURDAY 18 MARCH 2017
Kick off 3.00pm
TICKETS: Purchase in advance for best price, past bookers only, details
GRAHAM BARROW: Read and watch Graham's passionate pre-match rallying call, here
MR GREEN: All the latest odds with the club’s new betting partner, here
A week is a long time in football, as the old cliché goes, and so it has proved this week at the DW Stadium. Seven days ago, manager Warren Joyce was preparing his side for a crucial six-pointer with rivals Bristol City. Roll on a week and after defeat against the Robins proved to be one disappointment too much, Interim Manager Graham Barrow is preparing to take charge of his first ever game at the DW Stadium; the last two occasions when he has been called upon being away from home at Leeds and Millwall in 2013 and Cardiff last October.
This time round, however, Barrow’s mission is to try and guide the side to safety over the course of the next nine games, starting with this enormous challenge of defeating an Aston Villa filled with multi-million pound assets – and who arrive in Wigan on the back of a decent run of form.
Barrow says he wants a performance from his players, first and foremost, because the supporters deserve that as an absolute minimum. Not quite do or die territory yet for Latics but a victory against Villa would be a huge boost going into the international break…
As for Villa, maybe this season has been written off in terms of promotion. Although the Play-Offs are still reachable in theory, Steve Bruce, who returns to the DW as a manager for only the third time since leaving in 2009, will probably have his mind on building a squad ready to challenge for promotion back to the Premier League next season.
Steve Bruce, a familiar face returns
Sam Morsy is back from suspension and could go straight back into the team given that Max Power is still doubtful after missing the Bristol City match with a hamstring problem sustained against Birmingham. Will Grigg has a knee injury so will miss out.
For Villa, Andre Green is back training following a hamstring injury but will not be included, Scott Hogan, however, could make the bench after an ankle injury, along with Henri Lansbury (achiles) and Jack Grealish (knee). Nathan Baker is definitely out, also with a knee problem.
SEASON SO FAR
There is no doubt that overall, this season has been a huge disappointment. Nothing but a return to the Premier League was the target after the club was relegated from the Premier League and with a 14 point gap to the play-offs with just nine games left in the season, that is highly unlikely.
When Steve Bruce replaced Roberto Di Matteo in October, hopes were high that a poor start to the season could be put behind them and that Bruce - with a January window to work his wonders in the transfer market – would be able to guide a team filled with multi million pound talent on a second half of the season surge up the table.
Alas it hasn’t quite happened that way, although they will arrive at the DW Stadium having won four out of the last five games so it seems – unfortunately from a Latics point of view – that our old gaffer has got them playing at last.
CURRENT SQUAD, 2016-17 LEADING LEAGUE GOALSCORERS
15, Jonathan Kodjia
4, Rudi Gestede (now Middlesbrough)
3, Ross McCormack (now Nottingham Forest)
3, Albert Adomah
3, Jack Grealish
2, Jordan Ayew
HEAD TO HEAD
Having only ever met twice in the League Cup prior to Latics being promoted to the Barclays Premiership in 2005, Villa Park has been a decent hunting ground over the years for Latics. The same could not be said for games at the DW/JJB alas.
Villa were in their European Cup pomp in January 1981 when they defeated 4th Division Latics in the League Cup, following that in 1994 with a thumping 8-0 aggregate victory in 1994 – Latics back again in the bottom tier by then.
The gulf in status had disappeared by 2005 when Paul Jewell’s men stunned Villa by winning the double that season. Unfortunately that was the one and only time we have managed to beat Villa at home, the other eight encounters – all in the Premier League ending either in draws or a defeat.
The last time Villa were at the DW Stadium came in May 2013, in our final ever Premier League match, the game ending in a 2-2 draw.
The return fixture at Villa Park this season was a tight game, Latics being cruelly undone in the final minutes by Jack Grealish’s long-range effort.
PLAYED FOR BOTH CLUBS
Stephen Warnock played over 100 games for the visitors between 2009 and 2013, but he is the only direct link between the sides in terms of players.
In recent times, Grant Holt went on loan to Villa in 2014, while Charles N’Zogbia and Emile Heskey left us for Villa on permanent deals in 2009 and 2011 respectively.
Coming the other way, Chris Herd was a Villa loanees in 2015 while current Premier League champion Mark Albrighton was with us in 2013 before his eventual move to Leicester City.
Others to have played for both include, going back roughly chronologically, Liam Ridgewell, Scott Sinclair, Tom Cleverley, Scott Carson, Gareth Farrelly, Alan McGLoughlin, Lee Butler, Brendan Ormsby, Warren Aspinall and Bobby Campbell.
On the management side, there are some strong links too, of course, with Steve Bruce has managed both, while Bruce Rioch, John Deehan, Kenny Swain and Brian Tiler are all ex-Villa players to have sat in the Latics hot seat.
Latics skipper Stephen Warnock scoring for Villa against Bolton Wanderers in 2012.
Referee - Tony Harrington (16-17 record: Games 29, Y 109, R 2)
Assistant Referee 1 - James Wilson
Assistant Referee 2 - Mark Dwyer
Fourth Official - Mark Heywood