The DW Stadium, Saturday 7th February, 3pm
Wigan Athletic (Last Starting XI v Ipswich Town, A): Al Habsi; Perch, Barnett, Ridgewell, Taylor; Kvist, Cowie, Huws, Waghorn, McClean; Fortune
AFC Bournemouth (Last Starting XI v Watford, H): Boruc; Francis, Cook, Elphick, Daniels; Ritchie, Arter, Surman, Pugh; Kermorgant, Wilson
Match Odds (From William Hill): Wigan 14/5, Draw 9/4, Bournemouth 21/20
- Wigan Form (Last 6 League Games): DLDLLW
- Bournemouth Form (Last 6 League Games): WLWLWW
- Since Wigan and Bournemouth have returned to the Championship, they have faced each other 3 times with all the results being won by the side who has been at home.
- Bournemouth beat Wigan 2-0 earlier in the season, but are without a win away over the Latics since 1987.
Since Malky Mackay took over from Uwe Rosler, Wigan have only managed one win out of 12 matches and they are currently without a League win since Boxing Day – a 2-0 win at Elland Road. However, their last outing saw them travel to Portman Road to face one of the favourites for promotion, a game in which they were not outclassed by an in-form Ipswich side.
Wigan are arguably in the position they find themselves currently in due to their inability to pick up a win at home. Their last triumph at the DW Stadium was way back in August, and despite showing encouraging performances on their travels, their home form will need to improve if they are to escape the drop.
Wigan have conceded 36 goals in 28 League games so far, only 8 more than the Championship leaders, but it’s scoring goals that has been the problem for the 2013 FA Cup winners. They have only managed 2 goals since the turn of the year, and will be looking for their new loan signing, Leon Clarke, to hit the ground running.
There is the potential for 6 new signings to make their home debuts, including Billy Mckay, Leon Clarke and ex-Cherry Jason Pearce. The 27-year-old says he is looking forward to the challenge that lies ahead, and aims to help the team climb up the table.
It has been a dream season so far for the Cherries, currently top of the Championship table and scoring goals for fun. Despite a defeat in their last outing at Leeds, they hold the best away record in the league picking up an impressive 27 points from a possible 42, and they will look to maintain their place at the summit ahead of the chasing pack.
Bournemouth are also the top scorers in the League, already reaching a total of 59 goals in just 28 games. Callum Wilson, the player bought in to replace last season’s top scorer Lewis Grabban, is the Cherries leading scorer this campaign, but strikers are not the only source of goals for Howe’s men, with 30 coming from midfield and defence.
Eddie Howe was extremely quiet in the January transfer window as they failed in their attempts to bring Demarai Gray to the club. However, keeping the squad that has taken Bournemouth to the top of the pile was probably the best bit of business they could have wished for. Howe describes February as a ‘pivotal’ month in Bournemouth’s season and is surprised to see their competitors in the position they are in. He anticipates a tough, entertaining game against, what he describes as, a strong squad of players.
Howe’s team selection has been extremely consistent over recent weeks, the only question being who partners Wilson up front. Kermorgant started in the last game against Watford, however, Tokelo Rantie, who has returned from the African Cup of Nations this week, and Brett Pitman are also in contention for selection. O’Kane is a doubt after suffering an injury in his last outing.
Prediction: Wigan Athletic 1-3 AFC Bournemouth
This game sees the team with the best away record in the league come up against the team with the worst home record, therefore it is difficult to see past the visitors in this encounter. Bournemouth often concede, however, they also have a tendency to be extremely ruthless away from home.