Two matches, two posts, a crossbar, one goalkeeping mistake and a saved penalty. It’s not been the luckiest start to the season for the Latics, having drawn two games that probably should have been won. But the feeling in the camp remains positive. We keep hearing “at this point last year we’d lost our first two matches 4-0 and 6-0, so we are in a much better position this time around.” Which is true, but shouldn’t mask the fact that killing teams off is still difficult for the Latics. That said, there’s not much more they could have done to win at Swansea — sometimes your luck just isn’t in.
And so QPR is up next. If Wigan’s start to the season has been consistent, QPR’s has been far from it. After losing 4-0 to Bolton on home ground, they managed an unlikely three points against Everton at Goodison Park. And that was after a number of players from their starting lineup were made unavailable due to illness. So who knows what we’ll get tomorrow.
It’s been an interesting week in the transfer window. Joey Barton is apparently on the verge of joining QPR, which is a shame not only because he’s a nasty sod and I’m sick of watching him shout and bully, but also because he’s a good player who hurt us last year while playing for Newcastle.
Meanwhile, Latics have been linked with Vladimir Weiss, and Roberto confirmed that he is also still interested in Sean Wright-Phillips. The Weiss deal would likely be a season-long loan, the SWP an outright transfer. Both would be excellent signings, but I would be very surprised if the more experienced of the two doesn’t opt for Bolton (or QPR, who just entered the bidding) rather than us.
The Football: Antolin Alcaraz is out for two months, a huge blow. Steve Gohouri, his would-be replacement, is thought to be two weeks away from a return. Victor Moses is rated 50-50 after pulling up with a groin strain against Swansea and being forced to play the final 15 minutes due to all three substitutes being used already.
It seems likely Roberto will start this one with the defense that finished the match against Swansea, with Ronnie Stam slotting in at right-back, Boyce joining Caldwell in the center of defense, and Figueroa on the left. The midfield trio should remain the same unless McCarthy’s ankle injury hasn’t healed in which case James McArthur might get a chance. Given Moses’ fragility, I would guess Rodallega will be back in the starting lineup on the left, Gomez on the right, and Di Santo up top. I’d love to see Rodallega and Di Santo take turns, swapping back and forth from wing to center-forward position.
Ex-Wigan defender Fitz Hall will be at the heart of QPR’s defense. He looked a player of enormous potential in his time at Wigan, an incredible athlete prone to lapses of concentration, ala Bramble. Now 30, he looked very useful against Everton last week, but a little wobbly in the match against Bolton. Will be interesting to see how he does.
Could last week’s excellent performance be a turning point in Jordi Gomez’s career at Wigan? If Moses misses out, Latics will need another strong performance from him, drifting in from the wing, making runs into the box, and finishing coolly as he almost did against Swansea.
It’s another tricky one to predict, particularly not knowing if Victor Moses will be in the side. Based on QPR’s ability to hold onto their lead at Everton, and their capitulation versus Bolton, I’d say first team to score will win. I think Latics will do the job this time.