Team news, facts and figures, head-to-head and ticket details ahead of Saturday’s match with the Tractor Boys
- Wigan Athletic v Ipswich Town match preview.
- Latics manager Warren Joyce looks to secure a first home win in charge.
- Ipswich Town’s first visit to the DW Stadium since September 2014.
Sky Bet Championship
Wigan Athletic v Ipswich Town
Saturday 17th December 2016, kick-off 3pm
Neither team is in the best of form but both are desperately in need of points to kick start their season, the clubs are the division's two lowest scorers and have collected just seven points apiece from their respective last seven games.
Ipswich have not got the best of records away from Portman Road, but then Latics have not managed a win at the DW in five matches and so something must give in that regard.
Warren Joyce is still looking for his first home win in charge of Latics and while the performances have been full of energy and commitment, the manager has openly stated his team needs to find a bit more quality in the final third and turn opportunities into goals.
For Ipswich, who are notoriously loyal when it comes to their managers, you would hope Mick McCarthy’s position is not under threat. The former Republic of Ireland boss is one of football’s most experienced coaches, who has an excellent track record and is also one of the most likeable and engaging characters on the circuit.
That said, and despite the financial restrictions he has had to work under at Portman Road, football boardrooms in the bottom half of the Championship can become twitchy places – only McCarthy and former Latics boss Owen Coyle at Blackburn have survived from the start of the season within the eight bottom clubs of the division.
Bottom line, this is a big game for both clubs.
For Latics, Warren Joyce is optimistic that Luke Garbutt, Craig Morgan and Shaun MacDonald, who all came off early on Wednesday against Newcastle, will be fit enough to join the squad, and they will be assessed after training on Friday.
Reece Burke, however, is still out with his hip problem but Andy Kellett could start after coming on in place of Garbutt as an emergency right-back for his first taste of action since March.
Andy Kellett could be in line for his first start of the season.
For Ipswich, Mick McCarthy had named an unchanged side for the three previous games before the midweek defeat at Birmingham City, Myles Kenlock replacing Jonas Knudsen at left back. However, the Ipswich boss has hinted he will shuffle his pack for this one, saying:
'We need a spark from somewhere. If you keep playing the same team and not getting results then I’d be bonkers not to change it, wouldn’t I?' As to what those changes will be, Brett Pitman, Jonny Williams and Freddie Sears, who all came off the bench in midweek, could come into contention. Knudsen is available again after missing out at St Andrew’s with a tight hamstring."
SEASON SO FAR
Optimism was high when Town defeated newly promoted Barnsley at home on the opening day of the season but they have only won on three separate occasions in the subsequent ten matches at Portman Road.
Away form hasn’t exactly been sparkling either, with just two victories and two draws on the road in ten matches, but both the wins were impressive, at Derby County and Sheffield Wednesday, proof that on their day they can be a match for anyone.
Like Latics, their problem has been scoring consistently, only 19 goals from their 21 matches so far, just five of those coming on the road.
Form wise, they come into the match with a win and a draw in their last five games, which has got Town fans looking over their shoulder at the chasing pack just below them.
It has the makings of a tight game, one that is of equal importance to both teams looking to pull away from the wrong end of the table.
HEAD-TO-HEAD – A FIXTURE FOR FIRST GOALSCORERS
This fixture does not have a huge amount of history, with the sides only meeting previously in the league for four seasons, all in the second tier. Of the eight games, Latics have won five, Ipswich twice and there was one draw. Latics have won and drawn at Portman Road, Ipswich have won at the DW, the only result yet for a full house of results is a draw at the DW.
In addition, we have met twice in the League Cup, with the honours shared. Ipswich were comfortable victors in 1992 over two legs, while Steve Bruce’s Latics were equally as convincing in a 4-1 defeat at Portman Road in 2008, that game notable because Bruce’s son, Alex, was in the Town line-up that night.
As far as league encounters go, Latics definitely have the upper hand, although Mick McCarthy’s men did manage their one win in Wigan during their last visit in September 2015 – former Latic Conor Sammon scoring his one league goal for the club – typically – in the same goal he netted famously for Latics against West Ham; also his only goal for the club.
Coincidentally, there have been FIVE other first time goalscorers in this fixture over the years, James McClean, Nick Powell, Ryan Shotton, Olivier Kapo and Leighton Baines.
James McClean, opened his Latics account at Portman Road
McClean scored a double at Portman Road in a 3-1 victory in March 2014 to open his Latics account, while both Ryan Shotton (another who just scored the one goal for his club) and Nick Powell scored their maiden strikes to secure a 2-0 win in September 2014.
Kapo netted in that 4-1 League Cup win while Baines scored a 40 yard bullet in a televised promotion battle at Portman Road. Sadly, from a Latics point of view, Richard Naylor and a late Darren Bent goal swung the game in the home side’s favour.
Leighton Baines - what a way to score your first goal at the club
Latics did have the last laugh that season, however, pipping Town to the second automatic promotion place on the final game of the season – we all remember THAT game against Reading that propelled us to the Premiership.