Chris Hughton looks ahead to the challenge likely to be presented by Wigan Athletic when they visit the Lane on Sunday...
Chris Hughton looks ahead to the challenge likely to be presented by Wigan Athletic when they visit the Lane on Sunday...WIGAN HAVE GOT into their stride over the last few weeks and it is of no surprise after their exploits last season. They are a good side who play quite a high tempo, pressing game and I would have to say - if you take out Manchester United and Chelsea - they were the team who were most impressive on a visit to the Lane last term.
You could say we were a little bit fortunate to take something out of that game.
Paul Jewell has bought well and it is a sign of a good club heading in the right direction when people leave and are replaced by top players. Jason Roberts left after doing well, then there was Jimmy Bullard who I thought was their best player last season. Pascal Chimbonda was also a big influence.
What they have done is bring in Kevin Kilbane, who is a very high energy player and, of course, Emile Heskey. We all know that, on his day, he is arguably the best all-round English centre forward.
If you catch him on one of his best days he can be fairly awesome. At the other end of the pitch the signing of Chris Kirkland looks like a shrewd piece of business.
Wigan are very much a 4-4-2 side with two wide players in Gary Teale and Kilbane who are both capable of providing good crosses from the flanks. I don't think it would be unfair to say that they are a workmanlike side and I feel they have to be because the pressing game they play at times calls for this.
At the back Arjan De Zeeuw has been a wonderful servant for them over two spells and is a really strong leader. Where they can change is in midfield where they can play Paul Scharner off the front or a central midfield position, having now sold Graham Kavanagh.
They do favour a traditional shape though and like to get the ball out wide. From there they use the pace they've got up front with Heskey and Henri Camara, who scores goals season after season and is a real threat. For me he is one of the most consistent forward runners - similar to Darren Bent - who is always looking to search on beyond.
He is the type of forward that centre halves don't enjoy playing against - full of pace and movement.
They are a classic 4-4-2 team who work hard to get balls into the box and play a good pressing game.