Wigan Athletic (H) Match Preview

These match previews depicting just how tough our opponents are continues again today. We reach game 3 of this block of 4 toughies and with it, we host Wigan Athletic. On our 6th consecutive Tuesday night fixture we play a team many consider to be better than Rotherham.

Saturday was a heavy defeat on paper but not one that truly reflected the performance. United can take heart from periods of the first half and a dominant opening 20 minutes of the second half. As Bonner kept referring to in his presser, the team must strive to be more clinical when on top. The key instigator of a lot of Saturday’s best play, Mr Hoolahan, will of course be enjoying a night off on Tuesday so Bonner will need to find ways of replicating that creative influence. United’s Tuesday night Wes-less form has been good this season and we’ll have a few options available to us; Weir or Worman could come in, swap to a different shape or hand a start to Jack Lankester. Weir will be desperate for a start against the team whose youth system he came through, whereas 4 goals in 4 for Smith could see a change in position for him. For UTAS, with Tracey still not ready for a start we’d stick with Smith and Brophy in the wide positions complimented by a packed midfield including Weir getting the nod over Worman. 

There’s only one thing more common than difficult games for United at the moment and that’s a deep discussion on how to arrange the defence. Masterson didn’t cover himself in glory (again) on Saturday but will Dunk be fit to start a third straight game? Could we finally see a back 3?!

Takeaways from Bonner’s presser

Well it’s not good on the injury front

  • Jones still out
  • Tracey still facing issues, was included on Saturday but wasn’t fully ready

Elsewhere… 

  • Bonner is looking forward to a run of home games.
  • Got to turn competitive performances into points scoring performances.
  • Feels Wigan are a team that can win in a variety of ways.
  • Errors are either us not being consistent enough or down to constant pressure from opponents.
  • Got to turn learning into points gathering.
  • Should have taken something from Saturday, needed to be more creative and clinical in final third.

Expected line-up

Mitov, Williams, Okedina, Iredale, Dunk, Smith, Brophy, Digby, Weir, May, Ironside

Opposition preview

Wigan currently find themselves third in the table. This is a remarkable turnaround given the on and off-field dramas the club faced last season. 

Wigan just survived in League One last season, finishing 20th. Their new ownership hasn’t been shy with the investment, bringing in key players like last season’s top goal scorer in League One, Charlie Wyke. 

Wigan are an exceptionally business-like outfit with quality, strength and experience across the squad. They’re very comfortable controlling games both in and out of possession. Wigan arrive at the Abbey off the back of 7 straight away wins, they’ve favoured open away games where teams have attacked them, hopefully Bonner has scouted this and sets us up accordingly, we could see this being similar to the Oxford and Bolton home games. 

Who is their player to watch?

Take your pick from a dynamic front four of McClean, Lang, Keane and Wyke all registering good returns so far this season. Keane is going to be pulling the strings so is one I’ll be keeping an eye on.

Who’s in the dugout?

Leam Richardson is loved at Wigan. His leadership took on new levels during last season’s darkest hours, with Richardson taking on extras like cleaning the kit and cooking for players to help out.

What’s their recent form like?

Wigan will be well rested after having the weekend off. Their game with Oxford was called off due to a COVID outbreak in the Oxford squad.

L-W-L-W-W

Any ex-United players?

Anyone remember Jordan Jones?!

Played one game on loan from Middlesbrough during the Derry era. Was so bad he was never seen again in Amber and Black. Since then Jones has gone on to have a fairly successful career in Scotland, playing for Kilmarnock and Rangers before returning to England to play for Sunderland. We then joined Wigan for an undisclosed fee.

Jensen Weir is looked on fondly at Wigan. He was one of three academy players sold to help keep the club in business. 

Last time out

You have to go back to March 2002 for our last league meeting. Wigan cruised to a 4-1 home win, Andy Liddell helped himself to a hattrick. Ian Ashbee with the U’s goal. Cambridge went on to finish bottom of the Second Division in our last season at that level before our return this year.

A matchday album to listen to

Courtney Barnett – Things Take Time, Take Time

Liam O’Neil really wanted us to include Adele here but we’ve vetoed that one.

Instead we’ll go with Aussie singer-songwriter Courtney Barnett and her recently released fourth record. Renowned for her smart lyrics filled with millennial wit crossed with slacker inspired guitar riffs, the new LP is a more mature take on life. 

The UTAS team’s terrible Moosenet predictions

Jordan: 1-2, May

Tom: 1-1

Julian: 2-2, Ironside 

From the archive

Just the two Cambridge wins from our previous meetings with Wigan. Here is some grainy footage from John Beck’s men winning 1-0 at the old Springfield Park stadium in April 1991. The mighty Us went on to win the Third Division title that season. 

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