As we left Wembley in May - joyful and triumphant in the knowledge that we had reclaimed our rightful place back in The Championship - this was the sort of fixture we were dreaming of:
The club long associated with Dave Whelan is now under new ownership. On 2nd November 2018 the club was acquired by the Hong Kong based International Entertainment Corporation (IEC) in a £22m deal.
Saturday's game will be only the sixth encounter between the two clubs at the DW Stadium and Charlton will be looking to improve on their record of three defeats, one draw and a single victory.
Two Premier League defeats (3-0 and 3-2) were followed by that dispiriting 2-1 loss in February 2014 when we had led from the 3rd minute to the 88th only to concede twice at the death. But revenge was to follow a year later during the extraordinary "Luzon Spring" when seven wins in nine games propelled the team out the relegation scrap and into mid table. The 3-0 win was courtesy of goals from Bulot, Vetokele and Chris Eagles and Wigan centre half Jason Pearce must have wondered what had hit him. Our most recent trip up there was in December 2017 when Wigan topped League One by five points and a 0-0 draw was a very creditable result, particularly as they had turned us over 0-3 at The Valley three months previously.
The Latics finished eighteenth last season - twelve points from the relegation places. They started this term with a 3-2 win over newly relegated Cardiff City but have since lost four and drawn two and now sit in 22nd position and find themselves favourites (at 11/8) for relegation. However their home form is quite impressive. Their 0-2 defeat by Leeds last month was their first in twelve games since Sheffield United won 3-0 at the DW on New Year's Day.
Their problem has been scoring goals. Since that opening day win they have managed only three goals in six games and no-one has scored more than once this season. This despite the recruitment in the summer of Kieffer Moore - who scored 19 for Barnsley last season - and Jamal Lowe from Portsmouth who has successfully worked his way up from the National League South (Hampton & Richmond) to The Championship.
Lee Bowyer has acknowledged that he would have been in the market for Moore and Lowe this summer if he had been given a significant transfer kitty. “Moore is one I would take – but we couldn’t afford him,” said the manager. “I would have taken the pair of them but they were out of our price range. Lowe is a good player. He is in a different position now, playing behind the frontmen, and he looks good there. He is good in possession and has got pace. He is definitely going to be one of their main threats.”
Lyle Taylor has only missed six league games since joining the club. We have won 60% of our games when he has been in the starting line up and only 33% without him. We have scored 1.5 goals a game with him playing and only one per game without him. His absence clearly has a considerable effect, as could be seen in the Birmingham game. Lee Bowyer will be hoping that another week of training will have improved Tomor Hemed's sharpness and helped the team to adapt to playing with him but, without Taylor, we think a draw might not be a bad result. The team will need to keep a clean sheet as goal scoring opportunities may be thin on the ground.