Preview: Wigan Athletic vs. Leeds United

Brian McDermott. manager of Leeds United looks on during the Sky Bet Championship match between Sheffield Wednesday and Leeds United at Hillsborough Stadium on January 11, 2014
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Sports Mole looks ahead to the Championship encounter between playoff-chasing Wigan Athletic and troubled Leeds United at the DW Stadium on Saturday.

Leeds United's tumultuous season continues to unravel as events both on and off the field dog the beleaguered club ahead of Saturday's Championship encounter against Wigan Athletic at the DW Stadium.

Massimo Cellino's failed takeover has drawn an appeal from the prospective owner, who is now reportedly in talks with a rival consortium over a joint bid for the club.

The sooner a takeover comes, the better for Leeds, who find themselves in another financial crisis and unable to complete their payments to players.

The off-field troubles have been reflected on the pitch, where Leeds have lost their last three games and won just one of their last 10.

Tuesday's 1-0 defeat to struggling Charlton Athletic saw Brian McDermott's men slip to 15th in the table, now closer to the relegation zone than the playoffs that, at one point in the season, looked to be a realistic goal.

Leeds's troubles were in many ways summed up by Ross McCormack, the club's best player this season and the league's top scorer, missing a penalty in second-half stoppage time of that match against Charlton.

McCormack's contributions have rarely wavered despite the club's troubles, and he is a large part of the reason that the team have scored the most goals out of any side in the bottom half.

However, their torrid recent run of form has left them with the joint-worst defensive record outside the bottom three, and there does not appear to be any immediate solution to the slide.

Certainly, a match against playoff-chasing Wigan is not one that Leeds fans will be confident of getting much from, particularly considering they are currently on a run of five away games without a win and only one victory - against bottom-placed Yeovil Town - in their last 10 on the road.

McDermott has vowed to keep battling away to turn the club's fortunes around, but he will once again be without the services of Jimmy Kebe for Saturday's match, while Paddy Kenny is also absent.

Wigan are going through their own slip in form, although the teams below them in the table are yet to take full advantage of a run of just one win in five.

A narrow defeat away to Queens Park Rangers and a draw at home to Leicester City are respectable results, but draws against the likes of Yeovil and Bolton Wanderers are the sort of slip-ups that could harm their pursuit of a playoff place.

Certainly, they will be expecting a return to winning ways against a Leeds side so devoid of confidence, and three points would put them well on their way to securing a top six spot.

Despite their dip in form, the Latics are still six points clear of seventh-placed Nottingham Forest with just seven games remaining, leaving Uwe Rosler's men as comfortable favourites to reach the playoffs.

Their home form is particularly impressive having gone 12 games without defeat in all competitions, last losing at the DW Stadium at the beginning of December.

The hosts could be boosted by the return of long-term absentees Shaun Maloney and Gary Caldwell to the squad, but Chris McCann and Ben Watson are still sidelined.

Recent form

Wigan: WDWLDD

Leeds: LLWLLL

Possible starting lineups

Wigan: Al-Habsi; Perch, Kiernan, Ramis, Beausejour; McArthur, Collison; McClean, Gomez, Waghorn; Powell

Leeds: Butland; Byram, Pearce, Lees, Warnock; Austin, Murphy; Stewart, Mowatt, Pugh; McCormack

Sports Mole says: 3-1

New manager of Wigan Athletic, Uwe Rosler, looks on during the Sky Bet Championship match between Sheffield Wednesday and Wigan Athletic at Hillsborough Stadium on December 18, 2013
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