Wigan will look to build on their 3-2 victory over Sheffield Wednesday last weekend as they won their first game upon their return to the Championship following promotion last season from League 1.
Villa will also be looking to build on the three points that they earnt at the KCOM stadium on their opening fixture against Hull. The 3-1 win has set Steve Bruce’s men on the right course for the rest of the season although the performance wasn’t without flaws and they will need to be rectified as a better opponent may have taken advantages of Villas weakness (no disrespect to Hull).
Wigan put on an impressive display last weekend, although Wednesday had 53% of the ball, Wigan dominated in terms of shots firing off a staggering 21 shots compared to Wednesday‘s 8 and with 10 being on target. This is to be commended as Wigan didn’t do the usual tactics of a newly promoted side and sit back and defend hoping to knick a point.
Left winger Michael Jacobs was a real threat for The Latics scoring 2 goals from his 5 shots as well as hitting the bar. The 26-year-old had an impressive season last year scoring 13 goals. As well as his efforts going forward, Jacobs put in an impressive defensives shift against Wednesday topping the tackle charts with an impressive 4 tackles. He will certainly be one to watch at Villa Park this weekend.
Nick Powell, who Villa was linked with earlier on in the summer also managed to get on the score sheet. The former Manchester United player will be looking to carry on his form from last season where he finished with the best goal return of his career after finding the back of the net 15 times.
Another player that Villa will have to watch is Wigan’s flaming forward, Will Grigg. The Northern Irish international netted 19 times last season in League One and will be looking to prove the doubters wrong that he isn’t just a League One striker despite scoring just 5 goals the last time he was in the Championship.
Ørjan Nyland will almost certainly make his Aston Villa debut after Jed Steer was allowed to join Charlton Athletic on loan yesterday.
Fellow new signings, Axel Tuanzebe and John McGinn will also be pushing for a starting place. Manager Steve Bruce said during his press conference yesterday (below) that all three of his new signings have come to play in the first team and not sit around to make the numbers up.
Mile Jedinak will be available after missing the opener against Hull with sickness but Keinan Davis and Scott Hogan remain major doubts.
Wigan could field up to six new players for the fixture at Villa Park. Callum Connolly and Lee Evans have returned to the Latics on loan following successful loans last season. Josh Windass, Joe Garner, Leo Da Silva and Kal Naismith are the other four.
Dan Burn and Nathan Byrne will both miss the game through injury.
Video courtesy of avfc.co.uk
With the greatest respect to Wigan, Villa will face harder sides in the Championship this season so a game against a side new to the division could be what Bruce’s men need to keep the winning momentum going.
After the Hull game at the start of the week, it’s expected that Bruce will stick with his 4-3-3 system that earnt his side three points on the opening game and not change to one of the formations he trialled during preseason such as a 5-3-2.
Personally, I would deploy Birkir Bjarnason as the defending midfielder despite the solid performances Whelan has put undue to the Icelander’s mobility. This will be key to contain Nick Powell who will surely be looking to carry the ball forward from midfield.
Talking of midfield, Villa fans will be delighted to see Jack Grealish in a claret and blue shirt once more after staying put in the transfer window. However, the 22-year old may not find the experience as enjoyable as the fans in the stands will. Against Hull, Grealish was fouled a total of 7 times making him the most fouled player in the division alongside Ipswich’s Trevor Chalobah and Super Jack can expect more of the same from the Latics who committed 12 fouls in their opening game with 5 coming from Nick Powell.
Due to the fact Wigan are new to the division, their defence won’t be the strongest that Bruce’s side will face this campaign. This could be the perfect opportunity for someone like Jonathan Kodjia to grab a goal or two to regain his confidence and get back to his goal scoring best.