Wigan away doesn’t particular fill me with high hopes. The last couple of encounters I can remember saw Adlene Guediora dragged off at half time by Billy Davies and subsequently sold after a 2-1 defeat, and then Eric Lichaj went all maverick in a shocking FA Cup performance where he single handedly injected some pride into a 2-0 defeat. That’s not to say that there hasn’t been some decent meetings between the two teams. I remember a last minute Thomas Lam winner in a cracking 4-3 game at The City Ground under Phillip Montanier. Things have moved on a bit since then…
The DW stadium is a tricky ground for me and I wasn’t surprised to read that we’ve never won there. I’m sure the Wigan fans would disagree but it has that feel to it like the Readings and Derby County’s of this world where it’s a football ground plonked in the middle of a retail park. It seems difficult to get any atmosphere going and whilst a section of the Wigan fans have showed plenty of needle when I’ve been before, it’s a game where you really need the players to add to the spice. Unfortunately, we don’t tend to perform so well under these circumstances so it’s a chance to break the mould.
Having come out of a run of banana skin games unscathed, we’re now presented with a great opportunity to push on against Wigan, Hull, Reading, Luton and Derby. Whilst no game is an easy one in The Championship, this will be a real test of our belief that we can become genuine promotion contenders. Sabri has commented on his job to get the players believing in themselves. Whilst it will be a test for the players, it will be a test for the fans too. Faced with these giddy heights in previous years, expectations have gotten the best of us. Whilst the players won’t have any real issues away from home, it’s at The City Ground where the fans will have to be patient. The Championship tells us is not always about performances; it’s about keeping on going with results; by hook or by crook. If we can continue to pick up a string of 1-0 wins with 6/10 performances then you won’t see me complaining.
Wigan under Paul Cook are a funny side that on their day will give us a tough game. They were unlucky last season to only get a draw in their home fixture as Forest went missing for the majority of the game. With Ben Watson in good form and returning to his old club, I can’t imagine him going AWOL. Wigan fans will only be too aware of his appetite to get winning goals, scoring their famous winner over Man City in the FA Cup Final a few years back. Kiefer Moore will be a threat up top and I was really impressed with Joe Geldhart when I saw him at Hull earlier in the season. I dare say he reminded me a little bit of Wayne Rooney in terms of his physicality and eye for goal. Without two of our top performers, I’d be surprised if Wigan didn’t try to rattle us from the off.
Whilst Forest have coped reasonably well without Michael Dawson; the loss of Samba Sow is going to be a bigger challenge to deal with it. We don’t really have another player like him and Ryan Yates is only returning to fitness. Sow has been a dominant figure in our rise up the table and it looks as though John Bostock will be given his chance to impress although it’s been a longtime coming. A different player to Sow, I’m hoping Bostock will improve our ball retention. He’s a cultured player with a cracking left foot and his signing was the most exciting one for me during the summer. Fingers crossed he can hit the ground running and compliment the likes of Joao Carvalho and Joe Lolley.
It might be a blesing that Forest are in front of the Sky cameras with that extra pressure of having to perform. With the run of form we’ve been on, I’m going to go with a 2-1 Forest win on Sunday with Grabban and Lolley amongst the goals.
I’d caught up with Wigan fan Adam Pendlebury to give me his take on Sunday’s game.
How is the Wigan season shaping up at the first quarter point of the season?
At the moment, we’re following the pattern of last year; solid at home and poor away. We have played some nice football at times but in away games we can go more direct to Kiefer Moore. I personally am happy with manager Paul Cook. I don’t really see what more he can do under the circumstances. There are some disgruntled fans but I feel his new signings are starting to come good and we will get better over time.
In terms of the new players;
* Kiefer Moore – wins everything in the air and is good at holding the ball up. Just needs a goal now;
* Charlie Mulgrew- excellent addition at the back. Calming influence and excellent set piece delivery;
* Joe Williams- quality tenacious midfielder;
* Jamal Lowe- conveyed potential but yet to see him at his best;
* Antonee Robinson- was on loan last year so we knew we would be getting a left back who is very good getting forward but still needs to improve defensively;
* David Marshall- odd error but generally a superb goalkeeper;
* Lewis Macleod, Dujon Sterling and Bright Enobakhare; I’ve not seen enough of them;
* As for Danny Fox (ex Forest) – he got us over safety line last year but he’s now struggling to get back into the team after injury.
What are your expectations for the season?
14th / 15th finish in the league will do me.
What was Wigan’s performance like in your last outing?
It was a typical away game for us at Wednesday. We matched them 50/50 for most of the game but Sheffield just had that bit of extra quality when it mattered.
What are the key strengths and weaknesses of your team?
We’re solid at the back and have a midfield that will work hard for 90 minutes. A weakness is that we don’t have much creativity from open play.
Who do forest fans need to be worried about the most?
Our biggest threat is from set pieces. Forest will have to be on their toes.
What are your thoughts on Forest so far this season? Who do you see as our main threat/best player?
I’ve been very impressed with Forest. Their game plan being implemented well and they look a threat on the break. I really like Carvalho and Lolley.
What would you give the clubs rivalry with Forest out of 10? 1 – being your 2nd team 5 – being a mutual respect and 10 – your most hated team.
We’ve not really played each other enough or been league rivals for promotion/ relegation.
Your most memorable encounter with Forest and why?
4-1 away- absolutely ripped Forest to bits. Gomez’s goal was beautiful!
What’s your predictions for the game with scorers?
1-0 Wigan- Kiefer Moore
Cheers to Adam for his thoughts and you can catch more about Wigan at Progress with Unity – their Wigan Athletic Podcast.