Tag Archives: Wigan Athletic

Night of drama in Championship as Bees loose out to Baggies to go up

The best league in the world served up more drama on the final round of matches in the Championship on Wednesday evening.

Before kick off there was plenty of issues still to be decided.  Who would be joining Leeds United in the Premiership?  Who could possibly squeeze into the play-offs? Finally which three sides would be playing in League One next season?

West Brom Manager Slaven Bilic had to suffer 96 minutes of unbearable tension before the Baggies were guaranteed Premiership football next season.

After a two-year absence, they are back in the big time but they were pushed all the way by a resilient QPR side. It was the Londoners who took the lead through Ryan Manning, but West Brom hit back to lead 2-1 before Eberechi Eze levelled for Rangers just over the hour mark to leave the Baggies facing an anxious end to their league campaign.

When the final whistle went, West Brom players waited on the pitch to hear what was happening at Griffin Park. When news came through that Brentford had lost, wild scenes erupted around the Hawthorns as West Brom were confirmed as runners up.

You have to feel sorry for Brentford, who up until the last two results had looked the side likely to join Leeds in the top flight of English Football next season.

However, their surprising defeat to Stoke City at the weekend and last night’s shock 2-1 loss to Barnsley has cost them dearly. It will be play-offs for Thomas Frank’s vibrant side. For Barnsley, thanks to Clarke Oduor’s stoppage time winner, it meant that they had left the bottom three, thanks to Wigan Athletic’s 12-point deduction.

Fulham will have to go through the tough grind of the play-offs after a 1-1 draw against Wigan at the DW Stadium.

The draw meant that the Cottagers finished in fourth place in the table, two points outside second place West Brom.

Before last night’s action there would have been very few people who would have bet on both Welsh sides getting to the play-offs. Following an incredible night of action, however, saw both Cardiff and Swansea book their play-off dates with Nottingham Forest agonisingly missing out.

Cardiff relegated Hull City at the Cardiff City Stadium by securing a 3-0 win, while down the M4 Swansea were doing their best to gate crash the play-off mix by heavily beating Reading 4-1.

At the start of the evening, The Swans had to overcome a five-goal swing with Forest. The Welsh side did their bit, so it was down to what Forest could do against Stoke City at the City Ground.

Forest, in the top six for most of the season, capitulated 4-1 against Stoke and missed out on the play-offs. Swansea pipping the East Midland side on goal difference by a mere one goal.

Leeds celebrated being crowned champions  by hammering Charlton Athletic 4-0 at Elland Road. A result that sent Lee Bowyer’s side down to League One.

Luton Town survived a nervy night and escaped relegation after beating Blackburn Rovers 3-2 at Kenilworth Road.

In other matches, Middlesbrough’s impressive form under Neil Warnock continued with a 2-1 win over Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough, while Millwall ended their campaign on a high with a 4-1 victory against Huddersfield, with Derby County winning at Birmingham 3-1.

Championship play-offs

Swansea City vs Brentford first leg Sunday 26th July second leg Wednesday 29th July.

Cardiff City vs Fulham first leg Monday 27th July second leg Thursday 30th July

Final Tuesday 4th August

Analysis of the Championship Run-in

Championship fans up and down the country were today (June 8) given a huge boost of excitement with the EFL announcing the restart schedule released – along with confirmed TV selections.

The journey will continue for Sky Bet Championship clubs with the action kicking off again on Saturday 20 June. They couldn’t have gone for a juicier opening fixture with promotion contenders Fulham & Brentford clashing in front of the Sky cameras for a West London derby.

So with just nine games remaining, who is in the running for promotion and relegation? Let’s break it down and give a final prediction of what could go down starting with the relegation candidates.

We all know what gruelling and outright horrible season the Championship can be for clubs. It is 46 games of tough, physical games of football and we would usually be talking of these remaining nine games as the last hurdle, but truthfully, with the break, everyone has now had, anything could happen. Even more, than it usually does. Seriously, the Championship has become even more unpredictable – let the party begin.

Last term, 44 points renewed Millwall’s Championship status and the year before that, 43 points kept Bolton up. Yet with 27 points still up for grabs, Hull City sit one place out the drop zone on 41 points which makes you realise we could be in for a much higher points total to guarantee safety.

So who are all the teams in the relegation run-in? I suppose this is almost impossible to pinpoint with the dramatic changes this league can produce but all the way up to seventeenth spot we have Stoke City who are just three points adrift. Below them are Huddersfield, Middlesbrough Wigan and Hull. The drop zone meanwhile contains Charlton, Luton, and Barnsley.

Given the number of ridiculous results that the Championship can produce I almost feel it a pointless exercise to start analysing the run-ins that the teams have but some crucial relegation clashes are coming up – one of them being Hull vs Middlesbrough.

The Yorkshire derby (I’m sorry) has been selected for Sky coverage on Thursday 2 July and could play a pivotal part. The Tigers made a terrible gamble in January by selling their dynamic duo of Jared Bowen and Kamil Grosicki to West Ham and West Brom respectively and it’s fair to say it couldn’t have gone worse for them.

At one stage it looked like Hull might be in for a fairly stable season but since Christmas, they have picked up just eleven points from a possible forty-two, including heavy defeats in the last two outings to Leeds and Stoke.

Elsewhere, the pandemic couldn’t have come at a worse time for Wigan Athletic who were in the form of their lives and picked up huge wins over the current top two, Leeds and West Brom. It’s a huge fight meanwhile for Barnsley, who, despite some half-decent form themselves, are still bottom of the pile and seven points adrift. Gerhard Struber has not done a bad job with the Yorkshire club but the sheer awfulness of their start to the season before he took charge in November means that it still hasn’t been enough.

Charlton Athletic have been hit with a huge blow, which has been a big talking point ahead of the restart with several players including top scorer Lyle Taylor, refusing to continue. Taylor (30) is out of contract and states his physical health as reasons for not agreeing to a temporary extension as he doesn’t want an injury to prevent him from a move next season.

Even with Taylor’s goals, Charlton are two points deep in the relegation zone and without them, you do wonder where the results are going to come from. Below the Addicks, we have Luton Town who for most of the season have just looked a little bit out of their depth. It would be a shame for Luton to go down as their epic rise, fall and rise again has been a great story. Do they, however, have enough to stay up?

Huddersfield and Stoke may be living life dangerously sitting just three points clear, but the misfortunes of Charlton and Hull I think will keep them safe enough and out of the equation. Huddersfield will, however, have crucial games against Wigan and Luton, meanwhile Stoke will have to fight off tough opposition with three of the top six still to play.

Final Prediction
21: Charlton Athletic (Survived)
22: Hull City (Relegated)
23: Barnsley (Relegated)
24: Luton Town (Relegated)

So on we go to the epic prize that is the Premier League. Once again this is going to be a tough one to predict and it really wouldn’t shock me if a team I mention in this somehow ends up in a relegation scrap. This division is mental, it really is.

With just six points separating sixth and thirteenth – don’t shoot me if I end up getting this horrifically wrong.

I reiterate that form could completely go out the window with the big break that we have had and the run-ins could make no difference whatsoever but nonetheless, we’ll start with the current top two.

Leeds and West Brom have looked the best bets for promotion for a lot of this season and six points currently separates West Brom from Fulham in third with Leeds one point ahead of Albion in first. Both have had their bad spells this season and at one point it seriously looked like both Fulham and Brentford could take up the top two spots.

Before the pandemic, however, Leeds were in tantalising form winning their last five games and conceding no goals in the process. For West Brom, it was a little more up and down drawing away to Swansea and losing at home to Wigan but the Baggies did register big wins over Preston and Bristol City before that.

With Brentford ten points behind West Brom, we have to suggest at this stage that Fulham are the main contenders to challenge the top two.

However, a reminder that Fulham do host Brentford in the first game back and an away win for the Bees could give them a very good argument that they are still in the mix. Thomas Frank’s side will then have to face West Brom immediately afterwards at home so those two games perhaps could give us a good idea?

In that same game week, Leeds will host Fulham in what could also prove to be huge. My word I have missed this barnstormer of a league!

We must also not forget Nottingham Forest who sit level with Brentford in fifth, however, since their big home win over Leeds back in February, the form for Sabri Lamouchi’s men has been very up and down. They were shocked at home to Charlton and since been well beaten in their last game at the hands of Millwall. Forest have been crying out for Premier League football even longer than Leeds but still strike me as a team that is developing under Lamouchi.

There is no doubt that Lamouchi has transformed Forest into a much better side than we have seen over the years and for that reason, in my opinion, it puts him in the running for manager of the year. Should they, however, fall short this season they’d have to be big favourites next year.

Four points behind Forest in sixth we have Preston where thankfully we can now just be talking about who is going to take that spot come July. Not that I should completely disregard Preston ploughing through everyone in nine games and go up as champions but let’s just pretend that isn’t possible. Alex Neil is another manager who has done a tremendous job this season, turning Preston from a mid-table team to a side that is mounting a promotion challenge.

They do, however, face stiff competition from Bristol City, who are just a point behind The Lilywhites, while Millwall and Cardiff are just two points adrift. Oh, but then we have Blackburn, Swansea and Derby who are also very much in contention…I give in, please no one shoot me for this prediction.

To make matters more difficult these are all teams who’s form has been very inconsistent, I mean that’s probably why they are where they are. I do make a strong case for Gary Rowett’s Millwall though, who, since Rowett’s appointment I’ve identified as dark horses for promotion.

Rowett has had a lot of talk about him since his shock departure from Birmingham as to how good a coach he is and it did not go well for him at Stoke. At the time it looked a risky decision to take the managerial role at The Den, given that the previous season Millwall had very narrowly escaped relegation and were sat in seventeenth spot at the time of his appointment.

The Lions though have lost just five league games in his 23 game tenure and with just two points separating them and Preston they do look a good bet. Bristol City meanwhile were in very bad form before lockdown and despite that potentially making no difference anymore, they aren’t a team that has struck me as one that would maintain a spot in the playoffs. I would also say similarly with Guy Mowbray’s Blackburn Rovers, who have been in and around the mix for a while now and for a long time topped the form table, but ultimately I see them coming short.

Swansea and Derby are interesting ones because the Swans were at the top end of the table for a while before Christmas but a bad run of form led to their slip down the table. They are a young footballing side that given time under Steve Cooper, they could be well in the mix next season.

Derby, on the other hand, have had a very eventful season.  The signing of Wayne Rooney in January to the sacking of captain Richard Keogh. Focusing on the football, they’re a team that has tried to play out from the back under Phillip Cocu but just haven’t done it that well. Their fortunes have however recently changed and the results have started to come, which has led to them being back in the mix but I think it will be too little too late for them.

Final Prediction
1: Leeds (Promoted)
2: West Brom (Promoted)
3: Fulham
4: Brentford (Promoted via Playoffs)
5: Nottingham Forest
6: Millwall

More Worries for the Wanderers?

Bolton Wanderers were forced to close their training ground as of Monday due to financial worries continuing to mount over the club.

This Monday, it was announced that the Championship side would have to close their training ground due to food shortages. According to sources, training ground staff were told not to report for duty due to ‘Food And Water shortages’.

However, this isn’t the only worry for the Wanderers. They
currently face a winding-up petition from HMRC, the players and staff haven’t been paid their February wages, and the club are also in negotiations with the Greater Manchester Police regarding money owed over the policing of matches.

The wage issues at the club seemed to have had a negative impact on the players. Bolton have won a mere 6 games so far this season, with some of the players even refusing to play before the season started due to no payments from the Greater Manchester side.

The Wanderers are currently situated in 23rd in the Championship, with the threat of relegation looming over the club. Last season they narrowly managed to stay in the Championship thanks to two late goals from club captain, David Wheater, and Aaron Wilbraham.

Will They be able to pull off the great escape again? Bolton face a tough run of fixtures to end the season, including trips to fellow relegation-candidates Millwall and Wigan as well as a vital home clash against East-Anglian side, Ipswich Town.

Will the Wanderers be able to turn their season around and save themselves from relegation back to League One?

2017/2018 best League One XI?

With the summer transfer window officially closed, we now know all the official squads in League One, before the clubs go through it all again in January. With that in mind we take a look at what we think is the best League One XI right now.

Alex Cairns – Goalkeeper

The 24 year old shot stopper had an incredible season last term, helping Fleetwood Town get to the Play-Off semi finals. The season so far he has had 3 clean sheets in all competitions and it looks like he is definitely going to be a useful asset for the ‘Cod Army’.

Luke Leahey – Right fullback

The Walsall fullback has settled right into League One football after making the move from Falkirk. Having found the net on 2 occasions already and provided 3 assists for his team, the fullback is proving to be a very useful addition to the Walsall squad.

Dan Burn – Central defender

The Wigan centre half has been ever present in the league for the ‘Latics’ so far this season. With the club only conceding 2 goals in that time and the fact that Burn has been at the heart of the defence, he looks to be a solid player for Wigan and they are going to take some breaking down at the back when he plays.

Rory McArdle – Central defender (C)

Having only signed for Scunthorpe in the summer, Rory McArdle has become a huge player for the club as they have managed to keep 3 straight clean sheets. Given the captains armband upon his arrival to Glanford Park, McArdle has bought some key experience to the back four and looks to have been a terrific signing by Graham Alexander.

Charlie Mulgrew – Left fullback

The fullback that can be utilised in midfield as well, has had a terrific start the League One campaign as he has found the back of the net on 3 occasions. Having to fend off interest for the Scottish international in the summer from Sheffield Wednesday, Blackburn look to have kept a key player in their ranks.

Jake Forster-Caskey – Central midfielder

The Charlton midfielder has started the season off well as he has got 2 goals and 2 assists in his opening 5 matches. Having played every minute of every game in the league also, shows just how highly rated he is by manager Karl Robinson.

Sean Longstaff – Central midfielder

Could definitely be a player to watch out for in the future! Having joined Blackpool on loan from Newcastle, Longstaff has hit the ground running straight away as he has scored 4 goals and provided 1 assist for the Tangerines, which has seen them to 7th place in the league.

Nick Powell – Central midfielder

A key player in the Wigan midfield, Powell has scored 3 goals and got 1 assist already this season and looks like his tally will continue to rise all season. Having opened his account against MK Dons, Powell added a brace against Bury showing that he could be a real gem this season.

Erhun Oztumer – Attacking midfielder (Right)

By far Walsall’s best player last season! Erhun Oztumer found the back of the net 15 times last season and provided 7 assists in all competitions. Oztumer also leads the clubs goal scoring charts again this season with 3 goals, and looks like he is going to be in terrific form again this season.

Josh Morris – Attacking midfielder (Left)

This man is a goal machine! Having found the back of the net on 20 occasions last season and providing 19 assists in all competitions, its hard to believe he didn’t move to a club in a higher division over the summer. Starting this season off in fine form, Morris has already scored 4 goals and looks like he’s going to be a real handful again.

Jack Marriott – Striker

Having joined Peterborough from Luton over the summer, I don’t think anybody quiet believed that Marriott would start the season in the fashion that he has done. Scoring 6 goals in 5 League One matches has fired ‘Posh’ to the top of the table. If Marriott carries on scoring goals week in week out he certainly gives Peterborough every chance of being in the promotion picture come May.

Manager: Uwe Rosler 

The Fleetwood manager worked wonders last season with a young squad and a small budget, and with the ‘Cod Army’ just outside the play-offs currently and having played a game less than most of those around them, they look like they could have a terrific season again this time around.

What are your thoughts on our best League One XI? Let us know in the comments section…

Outgoings expected at Wigan Athletic on Deadline-Day

It’s all about keeping hold of their best players on transfer deadline day for Wigan Athletic.

Wigan Athletic manager, Paul Cook, has had a busy window since moving from Portsmouth in May and insists he won’t be planning on making any last-minute panic buys.

He said: “I’ve never really agreed with managers doing things on deadline day – I’ve never been one for that.

He added: “As a manager, of course, you’re always looking to add, in terms of depth of squad and strength of the squad.

“But we’re certainly still looking to move some players out, that’s for sure.”

After the brilliant start to the season, Paul Cook is happy with his squad and will try his best to keep his key players but remains active just in case a club makes a deadline-day swoop for one of his players.

“As far as we’re concerned, will we do any more business? I don’t know.

“That sometimes depends on who leaves the club.

“Actively, with all due respect, we’re being as active as we can possibly be to cover all sorts of possibilities.”

The latest signing was made yesterday with Gary Roberts signing on a free after leaving Portsmouth.

Gary brings a huge amount of Football League experience to the young Latics squad and he was in the Sky Bet League 2 winning squad for Portsmouth last season, managed by Paul Cook.