Its that time of the year again, where the most famous cup competition in world football begins for the sides of the top two tiers. This year in the third round, it has pitted an all-Championship clash between two previous winners of the competition: 2013 winners Wigan Athletic play host to the two times winners Nottingham Forest.
The Emirates FA Cup is a welcome distraction for the hosts, as Warren Joyce’s men lie second bottom in the Sky Bet Championship, following a dismal season, with their last win coming in November away to Huddersfield Town. The Latics have already surpassed last seasons Emirates FA Cup run, however, albeit by default, as Wigan crashed out in embarrassing fashion last season, with a 4-0 defeat at the hands of Bury in the opening round – then an all League 1 tie. The last third round tie The Latics were involved in was in January 2015 when they visited The Macron Stadium to face local rivals Bolton Wanderers and were beaten 1-0.
The visitors too will want to make amends and build confidence with this fixture, as they too have had a poor campaign thus far, both on and off the pitch. Forest lie just two points above the drop zone in the Sky Bet Championship, with their last win coming at home to Newcastle United in front of the Sky cameras, in early December. Nottingham Forest reached Round 4 last season, beating QPR in Round 3. However, they were beaten by Premier League opposition the following round, a 1-0 loss at home to Watford.
The two sides have never met before in an FA Cup fixture and have only met once outside a league fixture. Wigan, then of the Premier League, visited the City Ground and beat Forest, of the Championship, 4-1 in the Second round of the League Cup, thanks to goals from Mauro Boselli, Maynor Figueroa, Jordi Gomez and Callum McManaman, with a conciliation goal from Simon Cox for the Reds.
The sides have met four times at the DW Stadium, with Wigan yet to lose on home soil to Forest. There have been three draws between the sides, and one win for The Tics in 2013, as Wigan came from 0-1 down to win 2-1. With Jordi Gomez’s 35th minute strike, the difference between the sides.
Warren Joyce isn’t expected to make many, if any, changes to the injury stricken Tics line up, he revealed when facing the media, the emphasis is trying to win the game, rather than try new tactics. Andy Kellett is expected to miss the cup-tie as he continues his recovery from hamstring fatigue, whereas, Ryan Colclough could push for a start, as he was on the bench last time out against Huddersfield, following his return from his loan spell at MK Dons.
Joyce also told media he’s expecting to add new additions to the thin squad, including Ravel Morrison, who Joyce worked with at Manchester United. He described Morrison as the ‘Star Player’ in a team that included Jesse Lingard and the world’s most expensive player, Paul Pogba, however, he admitted he would need to see where Morrison was up to at this stage in his career.
Philippe Montanier will have former-Bolton Wanderers man Matt Mills available, after he completed his one match suspension for a red card away at Newcastle. Ex-Latics ‘keeper Vladimir Stojkovic is expected to make a return to the DW Stadium after he missed the defeat at the City Ground to Barnsley.
Wigan (Expected): Jaaskelainen, Warnock, Buxton, MacDonald, Burn; Power, Powell; Wildschut, Gomez, Colclough; Grigg.
Nottingham Forest (Expected): Stojkovic; Lichaj, Hobbs, Mills, Mancienne; Osborn, Pereira; Vaughan, Dumitru, Lam; Bendtner.
Featured Image Credit: Dan Farrimond