With the sides in the two bottom positions in the league, this really is a Christmas cracker of a fixture, in what is guaranteed to be a fiercely-fought contest between two teams in need of points to kick-start a run of form.
Latics come into this on the back of four defeats, whilst Rotherham did manage a victory at home against QPR to halt their run of defeats but form in both cases has not been good. In Latics’ case, they have had to face consecutive games against top sides – until last weekend’s disappointment against Ipswich Town when it looked all set for a welcome home victory – and the performances in the main have been competitive despite the high-flying opposition.
Familiar Face - Millers interim manager Paul Warne is a former Latics striker
Following the departure of Alan Stubbs, Rotherham have put former Latics striker Paul Warne in temporary charge. Warne was given his first opportunity in league football by John Deehan, who signed him from Wroxham and he spent two years with us between 1997 and 1999, scoring three times in 36 league appearances. However, it was after moving to Rotherham in 1999 that he really established himself and he has become a firm favourite for Millers’ supporters.
Despite their league position, Warne has brought a certain feel-good factor to the side and thety have been far more competitive in recent weeks.
Unfortunately for Latics, the injury list has been quite extensive of late, hence the need to put Under 21 players on the bench versus Ipswich. Joyce will be checking on the availability of Luke Garbutt and Shaun MacDonald in the build up to the game, although Nick Powell, Craig Morgan and David Perkins will almost definitely miss out. Donervon Daniels is approaching fitness while Reece Burke is still receiving treatment at West Ham for his troublesome hip problem. Joyce has no choice to wait for as long as possible until selection decisions are made.
For The Millers, Richard Wood will be available after his red card for the incident which led to Sheffield Wednesday's last minute penalty at Hilsborough last week was rescinded. Izzy Brown missed that game with a slight hamstring strain but could be back, while Kirk Broadfoot is nearing a return to the side having been sidelines since the opening day of the season after back surgery. Lee Camp (knee), Greg Halford (ankle) and Jonson Clarke-Harris (knee) will not make it, however.
SEASON SO FAR
It has been a very difficult season so far for The Millers, with just two victories and four draws in their 22 games so far. Both wins have been at home, against Brentford in August and against QPR a fortnight ago. Their four draws have all come from the same score-line – 2-2 – with a solitary point on the road coming against Ipswich Town at the end of October, while points have also been taken from Wolves, Nottingham Forest and Bristol City at the New York Stadium.
Alan Stubbs- only 14 games in charge
Manager Alan Stubbs – along with former Latics midfielder and coach John Doolan – only lasted 14 games into the season before the club decided to make a change, but there was no significant uplift when Stubbs was replaced by Kenny Jackett. He resigned just weeks into the job, hence Warne was put in temporary charge. There has certainly been a response. He led the side to a morale-boosting victory over Ian Holloway’s QPR in their last game at home, they scored first at Fulham but eventually lost 2-1 at Craven Cottage and they were highly unfortunate to come away from last week’s ‘mini-steel city derby’ at Hilsborough empty handed. Both Warne and the Millers fans will be hoping to make it two home victories in a row at home against Latics.
On the other hand, Warren Joyce and his players will be targeting this game as an opportunity to notch up a victory against the team with the worst home record in the division.
This fixture has got some real history. Modern day fans will remember Jermaine Pennant’s brilliant free-kick double which earned Latics a win on their last trip here in March 2015, but this is a contest that actually stretches back to 1935, when newly formed Latics lost out 2-1 at Springfield Park to then Third Division North United in the FA Cup.
Happy memories - Jermaine Pennant celebrates one of his superb free-kicks on our last visit to Rotherham
The clubs didn’t meet again for nearly 50 years, however, when Wigan Athletic faced Rotherham in the old Division 3 for five successive seasons, starting in 1983-84 (League One level now). Since then the teams have met intermittently over the course of the seasons in both the second and third tiers of the football pyramid, although there was a nine year gap between 2005 and 2014 when Latics were in the Premier League.
In terms of league encounters, the teams have met 24 times, Latics have the edge in terms of wins, 13-6, with only five draws having been registered. Looking at those numbers, then, history would point towards a positive result one way or the other on Monday.
Watch Latics' last visit to the AESSEAL New York Stadium.
PLAYED FOR BOTH CLUBS
There have been some notable alumni over the years to tie the two clubs together. Warne we have already mentioned, but Mike Pollitt probably heads the list having served both clubs well. Current players Craig Morgan and Adam Le Fondre will be well remembered by Millers fans, while Reece James also had a brief spell on loan at the New York Stadium.
Craig Morgan, played 100 games and won two promotions for United
Others to link the clubs in recent history are Alex Revell, James Tavernier and Haris Vuckic, while going back in time, Andy Liddell, Don Page and Andy Ainscow played for both too.