Preston North End must be wary of resurgent Wigan Athletic in M6 derby
Preston North End will face Wigan in their best form all season, having put back-to-back wins together for the first time this campaign.
A home victory against Sheffield Wednesday on January 28 was quickly followed up by an away win at Leeds United just three days later.
Maximum points from their last two games still leaves the Latics in the relegation zone, but they occupy the top spot of the bottom three and are two points from safety.
Not only did Wigan pull off the unexpected as they saw off Leeds in their own back yard, they did it through a goal direct from a corner.
Technically, the goal was given against Pablo Hernandez who was adjudged to have turned into his own net, but Joe Williams wheeled away after his inswinging delivery found the net.
Williams may be familiar to some North End fans, having had a bust-up with Ben Pearson following a 2-2 draw at Deepdale whilst playing for Bolton Wanderers.
Williams and Pearson confronted each other and a melee ensued with all of both teams involved, after the final whistle.
Williams is backing the Latics at the DW.
“We’re all buzzing after the Leeds win, the lads all put an unbelievable shift in,” he said.
“There’s nothing worse than losing games, and going home on the coach and everyone’s quiet.
“You come into training on Monday and the atmosphere isn’t great, and it does take some getting over.
“But you get back-to-back wins and you’re then looking to put together a run, and moving up the table.
“We’ve got a few home games coming up now, we’re strong at home, and we back ourselves to beat anyone at the DW.
“It’s a real squad effort if we want to achieve what we want to this season.”
Wigan’s primary goal threat has to be considered as their top scorer Che Dunkley, even if he is a defender.
He has five goals so far this season and Latics are going to have to deal with the departure of their highest scoring outfield player as Josh Windass – who was previously linked with North End as he left Rangers – moved to Sheffield Wednesday on loan.
Other than Dunkley, Kieffer Moore has three goals, another linked with PNE, but he is in a similar mould to the defender, both favouring a more aerial approach.
It could be a war of attrition on Saturday lunchtime, the hosts looking for a repeat of the fixture last season, where they came away 2-0 winners.
PNE, on the other hand, will be looking for a repeat of the result earlier in the season, as they hope to complete their second double of the season, having beaten Barnsley home and away.
Preston won 3-0 at Deepdale, with Sean Maguire, Paul Gallagher and Louis Moult all finding the net.
Only one of those scorers is likely to feature, with Moult out for the season, Gallagher a doubt and Maguire currently fit, but made to wait from the bench.