It would be fair to say that Wigan Athletic are a yo-yo club. With two relegations and two promotions in the last four years, the club has lacked some stability on the pitch. They will hope that all changes this season now they have returned to the Championship. They arguably have more reason to be optimistic as the club have been bought by Chinese investors during the off-season.
Wigan gained promotion on the back of the goals scored by Will Grigg. He truly was on fire last season, netting 26 goals in 53 games across all competitions. Ably assisted by Nick Powell and Michael Jacobs, Wigan were not short of goals last season. However, Wigan’s success last season was also down to an incredibly tight defence. They conceded just 29 goals all season and kept a club record 27 clean sheets in the league. Their goal difference of +60 was bettered only by Manchester City across the top 5 leagues in England.
Wigan’s stinginess may come as something of a shock to Leeds fans as their defence is led by former Leeds man Alex Bruce. Whilst he never inspired a huge amount of confidence in his time at Leeds, the centre-back has had a far more successful time across the Pennines.
So what can we expect from Wigan this season? They have already started to take advantage of their new found riches by signing Leonardo Da Silva Lopes from Peterborough United for a seven-figure fee. As Leeds fans have found out to our cost on many an occasion, any player can look good in a YouTube compilation (here’s looking at you Hadi Sacko) but Lopes really does look the real deal.
They have also signed Kal Naismith from Portsmouth and Reece James on loan from Chelsea.
Last time Wigan were in the Championship, Leeds United shared the spoils with them, with both games ending 1-1. Chris Wood scored in each game for the Mighty Whites, whilst an injury time equaliser from Shaun Macdonald denied Leeds all three points at Elland Road.
Wigan appear to be far better equipped to take on the Championship this time round. They have a solid defense, a new and highly creative midfield and a front line full of goals. If they can avoid the mental scarring that two relegations in two consecutive Championship seasons may caused them then I fully expect them to have a very solid season.