Latics back at the DW Stadium as Malky Mackay era begins with visit of high-flying Middlesbrough.
- Latics lost just one of eight home games.
- Boro undefeated in four, conceding just once.
- Last three meetings between the two sides have been drawn.
Wigan Athletic v Middlesbrough
Saturday 22nd November 2014
Sky Bet Championship
Malky Mackay’s Wigan Athletic managerial career gets underway on Saturday as Middlesbrough visit the DW Stadium.
Aitor Karanka’s side travel south to the north-west looking to build on a fine run of form which has seen the Teessiders go third in the Sky Bet Championship.
Latics will be hoping for a positive result under their new manager, especially given that their last three managers have won their first league game in charge.
LAST TIME OUT
Latics 2 – 2 Middlesbrough
Saturday 25 August 2013
Jordi Gomez’s stunning late free-kick earned Latics a point in an end-to-end clash with Middlesbrough on their last visit to the DW Stadium.
Grant Holt opened the scoring from the spot after Marc-Antoine Fortuné was fouled by George Friend before the Middlesbrough full-back made amends by equalising with a low strike on the stroke of half-time.
Grant Leadbitter looked to have won the points for Tony Mowbray’s side after he converted Albert Adomah’s cross 15 minutes from time.
But Gomez thumped home a free-kick from the edge of the area five minutes from the end to salvage a point.
MIDDLESBROUGH IN 2014/15 SO FAR
It’s all if’s, but’s and maybe’s but, had the 2013-14 Sky Bet Championship campaign been a few games longer, Aitor Karanka may well have led the north-east club to a place in the play-offs last time around after taking over from Tony Mowbray in November.
As it happened, the former Real Madrid defender led Boro to a 12th place finish, eight points short of the top six but a foundation was laid down for this season.
During pre-season, Boro lost long-serving frontman Marvin Emnes and also Lukasz Jutkiewicz who moved to the Premier League with Burnley.
In their place, Karanka signed Former Spanish youth international Kike from Real Murcia, midfielder Adam Clayton from Huddersfield Town and defender Emilio Nsue from Real Mallorca.
Arguably, the Teessiders’ best business has come in the loan market with Karanka using his connection to Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho – from their time together at Real Madrid – to lure Patrick Bamford and Kenneth Omeruo on a temporary basis.
Ryan Fredericks and Jelle Vossen have also joined up on loan with Boro now well in their stride having lost just once in their last 12 Sky Bet Championship games.
Comfortably the meanest defence in the division, Karanka has used his expertise well to build a solid unit at the Riverside Stadium with his side conceding just 12 goals in their opening 17 league games, including three consecutive clean sheets coming into today’s game.
Bamford, Kike and Lee Tomlin have all chipped in with valuable league goals, though it’s been former Sunderland man Grant Leadbitter who has led the line for Boro, scoring eight league goals – a feat no other central midfielder in the division can match.
MAN TO WATCH – GRANT LEADBITTER
Middlesbrough captain Grant Leadbitter is the midfield orchestrator for Karanka’s side and he’s also their leading scorer so far this campaign with nine goals in 18 appearances in all competitions.
A Sunderland youth product, Leadbitter made over 100 league appearances for the Black Cats before moving to Ipswich Town in 2009.
After signing for the Tractor Boys, the Chester-le-Street-born midfielder added a further 116 Football League appearances to his tally before signing for Boro in 2012.
Now in his third season at the Riverside Stadium, Leadbitter has scored 19 goals in 106 matches in all competitions.