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Match Preview: Wigan Athletic v Bolton Wanderers

It's here! The match we've all been looking forward to

Matthew Lewis

The 2013-14 Championship season is Wigan's first back in this Division after eight consecutive Premier League campaigns. The previous season was one of highs and lows for the team after they won the FA Cup for the first time in their history, beating Manchester City in the final at Wembley, before hilariously being relegated shortly after.

They have found life to be tough back in the Championship, much as Bolton Wanderers did. Wigan, as did Bolton the year before, started the season with Owen Coyle in charge as they attempted an immediate return to the big time. However, as with Bolton - things didn't work out with Coyle.

Coyle was appointed as manager in June and oversaw a spending spree the likes of which have rarely been seen at this level. The money was provided by his chairman Dave Whelan, who probably regrets handing most of it over.

The manager brought in no fewer than FOURTEEN new faces to the club, including permanent deals for Norwich City's fat striker Grant Holt and Sunderland's bobbins winger James McClean for a combined fee of £3m.

Loan deals were also concluded for Nick Powell and Will Keane from Manchester United with Coyle particularly focusing attention on Powell who he claimed to have been close to signing when in charge of Bolton.

As expected, integrating so many new players into the team proved difficult to combine with a tough campaign in the UEFA Cup.

Wigan began the season with a 0-4 away thumping of Barnsley, before having to wait until the last day of August to record another win, a 2-1 home victory over Nottingham Forest. An away defeat to newly-promoted Bournemouth and consecutive 2-2 draws against Doncaster Rovers and Middlesbrough completed a challenging first month back in the league for Coyle's men.

As September arrived then Wigan's form continued to be erratic. They would win a game then lose the next two, or go on a run of consecutive draws which stifled momentum. The side found the step-up in class to the UEFA Cup a challenge as they won only one of their first five games.

Indeed before they face Bolton on Sunday they must win in Slovakia this Thursday in order to progress to the next stage.

Coyle oversaw three consecutive defeats in late November and early December which sealed his fate. The trigger was pulled on 2nd December by Whelan, who immediately brought in former Manchester City striker and Brentford manager Uwe Rösler.

Wigan have found goals hard to come by despite their expensively assembled squad, with Nick Powell, Shaun Maloney and central defender Leon Barnett all chipping in with three each. Wigan's notoriously awful fanbase has also failed to support the side, with a season-high of 16,996 against Blackburn Rovers and a pathetic low of 12,753 for a UEFA Cup game.

Clubs like Wigan simply do not deserve high-level football.

Wanderers first met Wigan Athletic almost 30 years ago, in December of 1983. Naturally we won.

Since then we have faced them a total of 40 times, winning 15, drawing 10 and losing 15. Our top scorer against Wigan over the years is Julian Darby with four goals.

Last Five Meetings

05.01.2011 - Bolton Wanderers 1 v 1 Wigan Athletic (Rodrigo Moreno)

29.01.2011 - Bolton Wanderers 0 v 0 Wigan Athletic

16.02.2011 - Wigan Athletic 0 v 1 Bolton Wanderers (Ivan Klasnic)

15.10.2011 - Wigan Athletic 1 v 3 Bolton Wanderers (Caldwell OG, Chris Eagles, David Ngog)

11.02.2012 - Bolton Wanderers 1 v 2 Wigan Athletic (Mark Davies)

Prediction

Heart - Wigan Athletic 0 v 25 Bolton Wanderers (Dave Whelan OG x25)

Head - Wigan Athletic 0 v 1 Bolton Wanderers (Chris Eagles)

Another tough game for Dougie Freedman and his lads. Wigan, despite Owen Coyle's best efforts, are not a bad side and they possess strength in areas that we need to be mindful of. Grant Holt might be a fat duckegg but he has a goal in him and his presence will require Tim Ream and Matt Mills to be on top form.

The new manager factor will undoubtedly come into play as Wanderers yet again face a side with a new man in charge. Rösler has a reputation for attacking football and it remains to be seen whether his short time with the squad will see much of an impact on Sunday.

COYWM.