Three Wigan players key to derailing Newcastle title bid
ANALYSIS By Matt Farr
Championship leaders Newcastle travel to relegation-fighters Wigan on Wednesday in a bid to extend their lead at the top of the league.
Newcastle have won 14 of their 20 games this season, and are comfortably the league’s highest-scorers (41). Their opponents, meanwhile, are struggling down in 23rd, with just four wins from their 20 games.
The away side returned to form with a 4-0 win over Birmingham at the weekend, ending a run of two straight defeats. But Wigan will be keen to spoil the party, and lift themselves out of their own relegation battle.
Rafa Benitez’s side will be confident of sealing a victory given the clear gulf in quality between the two sides this season, but there are some areas that they must be wary of.
Football Insider reveals three Wigan players that could scupper Newcastle’s hopes:
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He doesn’t have his own song for nothing. Grigg was the star for Wigan last season as they earned promotion back to the Championship, netting 25 goals from 40 appearances in the process.
He already has six goals from 19 games this term, and is without doubt Wigan’s biggest attacking threat.
Newcastle have been strong defensively this season, but Jamaal Lascelles and Ciaran Clark will need to up for the task to deal with the threat posed by the Northern Ireland international.
Another key member of Wigan’s attack is Jordi Gomez. The former Sunderland man is no stranger to a clash with Newcastle, having spent one-and-a-half seasons with their Tyne-Wear derby rivals.
Gomez has two goals from 11 appearances for Wigan this season, and will be keen to add to his tally on Wednesday.
The Spaniard began the defeat to Aston Villa on Saturday as a substitute, but played the full second-half, and could be named as a starter in Warren Joyce’s midfield against Newcastle.
Joyce will want to keep things fresh with his side also in action against Ipswich later in the week.
The 25-year-old was another of Wigan’s key players from their title winning League One campaign last term.
Wildschut has been a first-team regular for Warren Joyce this season, appearing in all but one of Wigan’s league matches. He has managed just one goal and two assists, but the winger has electric pace which could be of concern to Newcastle’s full-backs.
Paul Dummett, who is likely to be the man to deal with Wildschut on Wednesday, cannot afford to let the Wigan man get enough time on the ball to run at the defence.