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Preview: Wigan Athletic vs. Wolverhampton Wanderers

Sports Mole previews the Championship encounter at the DW Stadium between Wigan Athletic and Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Wigan Athletic and Wolverhampton Wanderers square off at the DW Stadium on Saturday afternoon with both teams aware that only three points will do if they are to have a chance of achieving their goals at the end of the season.

The home side require three points in order to prevent relegation to League One, while the visitors realistically need to win their final two games in order to have a chance of making the playoffs.

Wigan Athletic

Gary Caldwell of Wigan Athletic looks on during the Barclay's Premier League match between Chelsea and Wigan Athletic at Stamford Bridge on February 9, 2013 © Getty Images

Despite their improvements under new manager Gary Caldwell, Wigan head into the match with Wolves knowing that they can't afford to drop any points in their final two games of the season.

Four points from three games is a solid return from a team who have under-performed all season, and although their 2-1 victory over Brighton & Hove Albion was welcomed, it is the result in their previous fixture that has done the damage.

A victory, or even a draw, would have kept the Latics above Millwall in the standings, but two late goals from the Lions ensured that they are now ahead of the North-West club.

Caldwell's men are five points away from safety but with the possibility of Rotherham United being deducted points for fielding an illegible player, they must continue to fight in an attempt to benefit from any punishment handed out by the Football Association.

Wigan are in their current position because of their home form, but after recording just their third win at the DW Stadium last week, they will have the belief to play without fear when welcoming Wolves on Saturday afternoon.

Caldwell will expect more goals from his frontline, but despite the absence of Martyn Waghorn against Brighton, Wigan looked a threat in the final third thanks to the pace and trickery of James McClean and Jermaine Pennant.

Recent form: DLLDLW

Wolverhampton Wanderers

Wolves manager Kenny Jackett looks on prior to the Pre Season Friendly match between Oxford United and Wolverhampton Wanderers at Kassam Stadium on July 29, 2014© Getty Images

Two weeks ago, Wolves looked favourites to secure one of the final two places in the playoffs, but after a run of one point in three games, Kenny Jackett's men face an uphill task to finish in the top six.

Wolves felt as though they were unfortunate not to earn something from either of their 2-1 defeats at Birmingham City and Middlesbrough respectively, but against Ipswich Town last weekend, they simply didn't do enough to get the required result.

The West Midlands outfit knew that three points were vital, but too often their final ball was poor and when the delivery did find its intended target, there was a lack of composure inside the penalty area.

The club can still achieve promotion, but they need a maximum return from their final two fixtures as well as hoping that Derby County and Ipswich Town can drop points during their run-ins.

Regardless of whether promotion is achieved or not, Jackett will be delighted with a team that has scored in their last 13 fixtures, but a foot injury to Danny Batth is a significant blow to his defence.

Even with Batth involved, Wolves have conceded too many goals from individual mistakes, and they could perhaps be more susceptible to unforced errors without the presence of their leader.

Recent form: WWWLLD

Team News

Danny Batth in action for Wolves on August 10, 2014© Getty Images

Wolves will be without captain Batth for the best part of three months after he sustained a stress fracture in his foot last weekend.

Jackett will also be without injured goalkeeper Carl Ikeme, but winger Bakary Sako is available after a minor knock.

Midfielder James Henry is pushing for a start on the right flank in place of Rajiv van La Parra.

Wigan will again be without striker Waghorn, who sits out the second game of a three-match suspension.

Forward Billy McKay could be introduced into the attack, but Caldwell could retain the front three of Pennant, McClean and Kim Bo-kyung.

Wigan Athletic possible starting lineup:
Carson, Perch, Maguire, J.Pearce, Bong, Kvist, Cowie, Pennant, Chow, Kim Bo-kyung, McClean

Wolverhampton Wanderers possible starting lineup:
Kuszczak, Iorfa, Ebanks-Landell, Stearman, Golbourne, Henry, Edwards, McDonald, Sako, Dicko, Afobe

Head To Head

Since the first game between the two clubs was played in 2004, Wigan have had the upper hand over nine fixtures, recording five wins compared to two from Wolves.

Wolves have also disappointed when travelling to the North-West, with three of the four matches at the DW Stadium ending in success for the home side.

The reverse fixture at Molineux proved to be a back-and-forth affair, with Wolves coming back to earn a 2-2 draw in a game that they previously opened the scoring.

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We say: Wigan Athletic 1-2 Wolverhampton Wanderers

After their win over Brighton, Wigan have every reason to be confident of inflicting a third successive away defeat on Wolves, but Jackett's men have performed well in front of goal and with the in-form Benik Afobe in their side, they should have enough firepower to edge out their hosts.


Who will win Saturday's match between Wigan and Wolves?

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Jelle Vossen of Middlesbrough celebrates with Patrick Bamford as he scores their first goal during the Sky Bet Championship match between Middlesbrough and Wolverhampton Wanderers at Riverside Stadium on April 14, 2015
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