“After the Lord Mayor’s show comes the dust cart” is a saying that can so often hold true in football. Wigan Athletic fans will be hoping that will not be the case when their team visits Burnley tomorrow.
Over the course of a season a team can reach its highs, but they are so often spread apart. Highs rarely come in consecutive games, but for Latics’ over the past week it has been the case. A superb performance in the FA Cup semi-final draw with Arsenal was followed by the best home display of the season, with a resounding 3-0 win over fellow play-off contenders, Reading. Both results were obtained by Latics playing high quality football.
But can they reach their third high in the space of nine days by getting a good result at Turf Moor? Or will it be an anticlimax?
The trip to Burnley was never going to be easy. Moreover it is a particularly big one for the hosts since they can win automatic promotion by beating Wigan.
Burnley have had a wonderful season, consistently punching above their weight. Somehow they have managed to stay clear of the large-scale injury problems that have dogged promotion rivals, although striker Sam Vokes will miss the rest of the season with a serious knee injury. However, the 25 goal Danny Ings will play up front with Ashley Barnes, signed from Brighton in the January transfer window.
Uwe Rosler will rotate his squad as always. He has stated that some players who were not even on the bench on Good Friday will make the team tomorrow. That appears to point at the likes of Gary Caldwell and Josh McEachran.
Nicky Maynard and James McClean are due to reappear in attack and Rob Kiernan and Stephen Crainey in defence. Rosler might well revert to a 3-5-2 formation, with Caldwell and Kiernan in the backline. The in-form Callum McManaman is likely to be rested, although he might make the bench. Shaun Maloney might well come on at some time in the proceedings, although he is unlikely to start his second game in three days following his recuperation from long-term injury.
The last two performances have shown the kind of quality football that Rosler’s Latics can produce. However, they are also capable of grinding out results away from home against promotion rivals, as to which Brighton and Derby can attest.
A good result at Burnley will consolidate Latics’ playoff position. It might not be pretty to watch, but Wigan have enough strength in depth to more than match their East Lancashire opponents.