Wigan vs Portsmouth Preview

By Jim Bonner
Last updated : 25 August 2017

Paul Cook will be familiar with many of the players who travel up to the DW Stadium to take on his new team on Saturday with important league points at stake.

Team News

Carl Baker will not be included in the squad as he has been told he can leave the club whilst Dion Donahue has been confirmed in the starting XI for the trip to Lancashire. Drew Talbot is out after limping off during the 1-1 draw with Walsall but Jamal Lowe returns after his three match ban.

Paul Cook unsurprisingly made eleven changes in the League Cup defeat to Aston Villa midweek and will look to stick to his same eleven that has won their first three league games of the season.

The Match

Of all the teams Pompey fans would love to see beaten this season, Wigan Athletic will surely top the list after Paul Cook's defection during the summer with many fans still bitter about the way he left Portsmouth.

Managers leaving for a smaller club for a better financial deal happens all the time in football and so whilst personally my feelings towards Cook are indifferent, you can understand why so many are feeling so raw after being taken in by his empty pledges of loyalty.

As it happens, Wigan have got off to this League One season on a flyer since relegation and boast a 100% record having won their first three games. If there is one thing that Cook does have in his locker it's his ability to motivate a falling side and to keep the momentum up when the going is good.

Given how Wigan have started the season and the attacking players at their disposal, getting a result tomorrow is going to be a difficult task. Nick Powell can rip defences up on his day, Ivan Toney is a talent whilst Will Grigg can't even get in the team at the moment. Most Latics fans believe that their current squad is stronger than the one that won League One two years ago.

Still, this is a Paul Cook side we're talking about and there will be ways of beating them. The best tactic is surely to do what many sides did to Pompey whilst Cook was in charge at Fratton Park and sit back, frustrate and hit them on the counter-attack when the opportunity is right.

But given Pompey's injury ravaged defence, could they possibly stick to that task for 90 minutes, especially with no Doyle-like character to enforce the centre of the park? Donahue coming in for his debut might strengthen the side but many will feel Luke McGee will need to be in inspirational form to stop the hosts scoring.

Despite all the feelings towards wanting to get one over our old manager and his cohorts, a draw is a more-than-acceptable result tomorrow.

Predicted Starting Line-Ups

Wigan

GK: Christian WALTON

RB: Nathan BYRNE

CB: Dan BURN

CB: Chey DUNKLEY

LB: Reece JAMES

DM: Sam MORSY

DM: Lee EVANS

RM: Gavin MASSEY

AM: Nick POWELL

LM: Michael JACOBS

CF: Ivan TONEY

Pompey

GK: Luke McGEE

RB: Gareth EVANS

CB: Christian BURGESS

CB: Jack WHATMOUGH

LB: Dion DONAHUE

DM: Ben CLOSE

DM: Danny ROSE

RM: Milan LALKOVIC

AM: Kal NAISMITH

LM: Kyle BENNETT

CF: Brett PITMAN

Last Time: Wigan Athletic 0 Portsmouth 0 (Premier League - 14/04/2010)

Having just beaten Spurs to reach the F.A. Cup Final, Avram Grant rested most of his players and handed debuts to the likes of Joel Ward and Matt Ritchie whilst only naming four subs. That was still enough to hold Wigan to a draw, whose fans booed their team off on the Tuesday night.

My Prediction

I think Wigan will have simply too much quality for a Pompey side still very much a work-in-progress to keep out over the course of 90 minutes. Retribution will have to wait.

Wigan Athletic 2 Portsmouth 0

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