It's safe to say tomorrow's clash between Wigan Athletic and Bolton Wanderers is unlikely to be one for the purists. Wigan currently occupy the third relegation spot and are six points from safety, while Wanderers sit in relative ease ten points ahead of their opponents in 16th position.
But both sides go into the match with horrendous form books. Wigan have failed to taste victory in their last 14 home matches, since a resounding 4-0 victory over Birmingham on August 30th, and have lost their last five home fixtures. Although bizarrely, they have won their last four away matches. In stark contrast, Wanderers have lost their last six away league fixtures since a 2-1 victory at Sheffield Wednesday on January 17th - despite only losing one of their last 12 home league matches.
So, something has to give at the DW Stadium on Saturday. The cynics among you will say a 0-0 draw is destined to happen, but Wanderers can certainly take plenty of positives from their first-half performance at Ipswich on Tuesday night into the clash with their Lancashire rivals.
The main shining light out of the disappointing 1-0 defeat was the performance of diminutive Portuguese midfielder Rochinha. The 19-year-old showed skill and dribbling quality we haven't seen the likes of since the days of Jay-Jay Okocha, and came close to scoring a goal of the season contender in an impressive first half. Having faded and tired in the second half it remains to be seen whether Neil Lennon will risk the youngster in a big Lancashire derby, but it's clear he has the quality to help Wanderers end their away drought at Wigan.
Wanderers also have the upper hand from the sides' two previous meetings this season. Goals from the now injured Max Clayton, the now finally not injured Craig Davies and the now injured / faded into obscurity at Crystal Palace Chung-Yong Lee secured a 3-1 victory for The Whites in the league clash at the Macron back in November. Days later Wigan sacked Uwe Rosler, replacing him with racist (allegedly), sexist (allegedly), homophobic (allegedly) Scotsman Malky Mackay. But the former Cardiff City boss didn't fare much better as the now injured Zach Clough inspired a victory on his dream debut for Bolton in the FA Cup Third Round at the Macron in January.
The Latics' main problem this season is pretty clear, they have the fourth lowest goals tally in the Championship with just 34 goals scored. Only one of their current squad has scored more than two goals in the league, in the form of James McClean with six goals. Their second top goalscorer is Callum McManaman, who scored the consolation goal in the league game at the Macron, and was sold to West Brom in January after scoring five times. While striker Marc-Antoine Fortune has scored a pathetic one goal in 27 league matches this season.
Wigan have certainly had an interesting season littered with controversy, which has culminated in the man least likely to be given a free portion of prawn crackers in your local Chinese takeaway (Dave Whelan) resigning from his position as Chairman two weeks ago. Hopefully this won't have any effect on the side's on-field exploits, and Wanderers can compound their relegation fears with a victory on Saturday.
Former Wigan man Emile Heskey could make a return to the Wanderers match day squad tomorrow, along with two-goal hero from last weekend Adam Le Fondre and Saidy Janko. Meanwhile, Neil Lennon today revealed that Mark Davies should be back in training next week.
I fancy our chances going to Wigan, especially if we play the way we did in the first half at Ipswich. I'll plump for a 2-0 victory for the Wanderers.