Wigan recorded their biggest ever league victory on Tuesday night as they dismantled a sorry Hull side to move 11 points clear of the relegation zone.
Paul Cook’s side were 7-0 up at half time, thanks to strikes from Naismith, Lowe and Williams, as well as doubles from Moore and Dowell, as Hull capitulated.
Dowell completed his hat-trick in the second half as the Latics recorded their eighth victory in their last eleven games, a run which has included 10 clean sheets.
This is a mightily impressive run of form when you factor in that they have a 12 point deduction looming, after the club were placed into administration last month.
It is the impending deduction, which leaves Wigan in danger of dropping down to League One. At the minute they sit 13th on 57 points but when the deduction is applied their points total falls to 45, which would take them to 21st, level on points with both Luton and Hull, ahead by only goal difference.
The EFL, according to the Evening Standard, have stated that the points deduction will only come into play this season if Wigan finish outside the relegation zone. It is therefore key that the club win their final two games to have any chance of staying up.
Buoyed by their recent performances, Paul Cook’s men will be full of confidence for their next game against fellow strugglers Charlton and their last fixture against promotion chasing Fulham. Win those two games, and it is likely that Wigan could remain in the Championship, even with the deduction coming in to play.
Wigan are just one of eight clubs that could face demotion to the third tier, as the bottom of the Championship table is incredibly tight with just two games left to play.
Hull City, who were pummelled by the Latics on Tuesday, Luton Town and yo-yo club Barnsley currently occupy the three relegation places. Barnsley are rock bottom, two points adrift of Luton and Hull who are level on 45 points, but with a game in hand on their relegation rivals.
Lingering above the drop zone by a single point are Charlton, who also boast a game in hand. Huddersfield, who were relegated from the Premier League last season, are nervously looking over their shoulder as they are two points ahead of Charlton, having played a game more.
Birmingham and Stoke City are next, level on 49 points they sit 18th and 19th, again having played a game less than the likes of Huddersfield, Luton and Hull.
Barnsley, who won promotion to the Championship last season, are likely to go straight back down to League One, as they have the hardest run in of any of those fighting relegation.
Gerhard Struber’s men face table toppers Leeds tomorrow night before entertaining in form Nottingham Forest in their penultimate game. They end the season with a trip to Griffin Park to play Brentford, and it is hard to see the Tykes getting anything from those games given their mixed form since the restart.
They have won two, drawn three and lost one of their six games since they returned from the break, but given how well the teams they are coming up against have fared they are in real trouble of going down.
Luton had looked nailed on for a swift return to League One before the break as they sat bottom of the table having endured a tough season, their first at Championship level in 12 years.
The reappointment of Nathan Jones, after he was sacked by Stoke has no doubt aided their fortunes, as the Hatters have defeated Swansea and Huddersfield since the restart, as well as picking up points against Leeds, Preston, Barnsley and QPR.
A heavy 5-0 defeat to Reading hasn’t helped their goal difference, which stands at -30, the highest in the league, which could be a determining factor in the race against the drop.
They face two cup finals to preserve their Championship status, the first a monumental clash with Hull at the weekend and the second against mid table Blackburn.
It will be a big ask, as Luton will also need others to slip up, but Nathan Jones’ men shouldn’t be written of just yet, especially given their recent revival.
Their opponents this weekend Hull have endured a tumultuous few months, and are in serious danger of dropping down to the third division for the first time since 2005.
Grant McCann will demand a response from his side in this weekend’s encounter with Luton and again against Cardiff after their dismal display on Tuesday night. They lacked any real fight and merely rolled over against the Latics.
They have won just one game since New Year’s Day, as their abysmal form in 2020 has seen them slide alarmingly down the table.
It is no surprise that their disastrous form has coincided with them selling their best two players, Jarrod Bowen and Kamil Grosicki in the January transfer window, and failing to bring in suitable replacements for them.
Wigan’s impending point deduction has given them an olive branch but if they don’t collect any points from their final two games, which given their current state of affairs will be a tough ask, they could still go down.
Last season’s League One Playoff winners Charlton are also involved in the relegation scrap. They won back to back games straight after the restart, but are since winless in four to leave them hovering over the dreaded drop zone with three games left to play.
They face off against Birmingham tonight in a must win clash, before hosting Wigan and travelling to Leeds on the last day of the season.
A return of four points from those games should be enough to keep Lee Bowyer’s side in the division, but it is going to be a struggle given their lack of goals recently amidst the departure of their star striker Lyle Taylor.
Although very much still in trouble, a win this evening should ease fears of relegation for the Addicks.
A team in dire need of a victory are Huddersfield, who are in serious danger of suffering back to back relegations, given their poor form since the restart. They have won just one game since the break and have failed to hit the target in their last four games.
A 0-0 draw last night against Sheffield Wednesday, coupled with a Charlton victory tonight would leave the Terriers just three points above the drop zone. They have West Brom and Millwall in their last two games, a difficult run in compared to others around them.
With goals hard to come by, they really have to dig deep to grind out some results, as they will need to avoid defeat in both those fixtures to stay up.
Birmingham are another team who have been pulled into the relegation battle, as results since the restart haven’t come their way. They have lost four of six games, drawing the other two, the form of a club in real trouble which cost manager Pep Clotet his job.
They have three games left, against Charlton, Preston and Derby, and with four points separating them and Hull, and Wigan’s impending deduction, their early season form has probably saved them from falling out of the division.
A major rebuild will have to commence at St Andrews next season however, with Clotet gone and talented youngster Bellingham set to join Borussia Dortmund for £22.5 million.
Stoke City are also fighting for survival, after an inconsistent season. Their form since the restart has encapsulated this notion. Michael O’Neill’s men drew with Reading before losing to Middlesbrough and Wigan. They then thumped Barnsley 4-0, lost to Leeds 5-0 and beat Birmingham 2-0, to distance themselves from the drop zone.
They had an awful start to the season under Nathan Jones, winning just 2 of their 14 games to sit in the relegation zone. Michael O’Neill’s arrival at the bet365 Stadium mid season helped to steady the ship, and the win over Birmingham helped them take huge strides towards securing safety, something which looked impossible in November.
They face Bristol City tonight, knowing a win will all but guarantee safety, helping them break into the 50 points bracket with two tough games left against Brentford and Nottingham Forest.
Given the erratic nature of the Championship predicting who will go down is arguably one of the most difficult tasks in football. Yet, it is hard to look past Barnsley and Hull to be relegated, given their remaining fixtures and poor form.
Who will join them is where it gets interesting as Luton, Charlton, Huddersfield and Birmingham are all scrapping to avoid falling into the final relegation place.
Throw in Wigan’s impending points deduction and the Championship relegation battle becomes even more complicated and simultaneously intriguing for a neutral watching on.
For more reaction to Wigan Athletic entering administration see video below: