Wigan Athletic v Newcastle United Preview: Opportunity for the Mags to gain momentum

Wigan Athletic v Newcastle United Preview: Opportunity for the Mags to gain momentum

Two teams from different ends of the table come together for the first time in three years. Can Newcastle maintain their top position or will Wigan start their escape from the bottom three?

Katie Mishner

The fixture between Wigan Athletic and Newcastle United has been a mixed bag as the teams have shared the spoils in their history together. Wigan have won seven of their clashes with United, and they have taken three points on seven different occasions too.

When the Magpies travel to Greater Manchester midweek, it will be the first time the teams have met in three years, this time in one divison below than their last match setting.

Opposite ends of the table

It is no secret that both clubs have suffered a fall from grace and the match will see a relegated team take on a promoted team who resides at the opposite side of the table after 20 games.

Redemption has no doubt been sweeter for the Mags as three points would see them maintain their place at the top of the table. Wigan on the other hand need those points to have a hope clambering out of the relegation zone in time for Christmas.

There are 25 points separating the two clubs but as Newcastle have learned the hard way, they must not be complacent. Toon boss Benitez has communicated this message consistently during the season. For the most part his team have followed, but there occasions that a slipt has cost all three points.

And right now, it is crucial that they keep the momentum up with Brighton Albion hot on their heels in second place.

If history is anything to go by...

The last four games have followed a distinctive pattern. Newcastle won, then Wigan won, then Newcastle won and in their last meeting, Wigan won. Perhaps this alternating pattern suggests that the North Eastern outfit are due a win.

However, this pattern plays with the rule of home advantage. From 15 matches between the two teams in total, 12 of the matches ended with the team at home taking three points. 

Interestingly, Newcastle have failed to score more than one goal in their last visits to the DW Stadium, while Wigan have won six of the seven home games against the toon - notably a 4-0 hammering in 2013.

Recent form

Up until recently, both team had maintained a consistent. While Newcastle were winning back-to-back games and Wigan were losing them. However, there has been a twist of fate. The league leaders lost two consecutively while Wigan experienced a small upturn, winning four points in November, as former Manchester United U-21 boss Warren Joyce was appointed.

However, the Lactics have endured two narrow losses in December. The travelling team's December looks a little brighter.

Top goal scorer Dwight Gayle has totalled 16 goals in the Championship campaign. After picking up where he left off against and scoring a hat trick against Birmingham City, there is no doubt that the number nine is looking to continue his goal scoring ways.

When looking at the Gayle's goal scoring, the service he has been given is unquestionably brilliant. Creative flare and accuracy from the likes of Jonjo Shelvey and Matt Ritchie has been instrumental in the ex Crystal Palace man's success. 

While Gayle has been scoring, Wigan have been conceding - letting in 22 goals in 20 games. Their attacking force has been underwhelming, scoring 16 in the league so far. Cult hero and striker Will Grigg could return to the pitch for this midweek fixture after being left on the bench against Aston Villa.

Last season, in League One, Grigg found the net 28 times and has so far scored four goals in just six appearances. With a small amount of game time so far the Northern Irish international will be eager to impress the new boss.

It will be a hefty feat for Wigan to break through to Newcastle's defence, which is the third best in the league. Couple that with the fact that the Lactics have been unable to score in nine out of 13, and there could be a real problem against the well oiled machine that skipper Jamaal Lascelles is running, alongside first choice centre back Ciaran Clark.

Midweek fixtures are never easy. Throw in the fact Wigan are somewhat of a bogey team for the team in black and white; it is certain to be tough test, but one that comes at the right time.