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Rochdale 3 v 3 Wigan Athletic
SkyBet League One
Saturday, 16th January 2021 Kick-off 15:00
Match Preview: Rochdale vs Wigan
Friday, 15th Jan 2021 14:47 by atthepeake

After scoring seven, conceding seven and picking up two points from two remarkable games this week, Dale look to earn only a second home win of the season as they play host to Wigan Athletic on Saturday.

Date: Saturday 16th January 2021
Kick-off: 3:00pm
Venue: Spotland

In what feels almost like an inadvertent backlash against supporters' frustrations with a negative, possession-heavy approach, Rochdale have played out two high-scoring, high-energy draws with Crewe Alexandra and Charlton Athletic in the last week.

Last Saturday the team made their return after a COVID-related break from action but found themselves 0-3 down at home to the Railwaymen after a dreadful first-half. That half also saw centre-back and club captain Eoghan O'Connell limp off with what seemed to be a hamstring injury picked up in the build-up to the visitors' third.

His replacement Paul McShane would later be subject to praise from his team-mates for helping to galvanise the team however as they turned in a fantastic 45 minutes to rescue a point, thanks in no small part to two well-taken goals from free-scoring midfielder Matty Lund.

And the former Burton Albion man was on the scoresheet again on Tuesday night, setting Dale on their way at the Valley with the opening goal. After two stunning efforts from Kwadwo Baah and a long-range free-kick from Stephen Humphrys, Brian Barry-Murphy's side found themselves in a 2-4 lead in the capital at the end of a breathless first-half.

However, a much-improved Charlton, inspired by the dangerous Chuks Aneke, would score twice in the second-half to rescue a point, leaving Dale just as frustrated as they had left Crewe only a few days previous.

Having reportedly injured himself in the warm-up, McShane missed out on the starting XI in London and his fitness issues, frustratingly, continue to hamper his spell with the club. His experience and organisational skills proved pivotal against Crewe and will come in handy versus Wigan on Saturday should he prove fit enough to start the game.

Ryan McLaughlin is another whose Dale career has been blighted by injury problems, but he returned to the starting eleven on Tuesday with a fine performance at right-back. Kwadwo Baah will surely expect to start again given the interest that his performance generated on social media on Tuesday night, which could leave Alex Newby watching on from the bench once more.

No update has been issues on the continued absence of midfielder Jimmy Ryan, although Brian Barry-Murphy has hinted that the injury picked up by his skipper O'Connell could lead to a lengthy absence, so perhaps the manager will look to bolster his defensive options during the current transfer window.

Having hinted that he wants a handful of new arrivals before the window closes, the lack of movement on the transfer front may start to worry supporters as it becomes clear that this squad is in need of some additions, with young, inexperienced youngsters often making up the bench this season due to a lack of depth.

If Dale are to continue to play the same kind of high-octane football that was displayed in the second-half versus Crewe and for the majority of Tuesday night's draw with Charlton, more options are an absolute necessity to allow players the opportunity to rotate and rest with games coming thick and fast in the next section of the season.

As things stand, Dale still above the relegation zone on goal difference alone - but an improvement in home form is desperately required if they're to remain outside of the bottom four come the end of the season.

Against a side that they have already breezed past away from home with a 0-5 win earlier in this campaign, on paper this feels like an opportunity to start a better run of form at Spotland, but Dale will have to be wary of a Wigan side that will no doubt be out for revenge on Saturday afternoon.

The saga with Wigan Athletic's search for new owners stretches on. With talks breaking down but administrators dropping hints that other bidders are looking credible, fans at the DW Stadium must be tearing their hair out right now waiting for some more positive news about the future of their club.

After years of living the dream in the Premier League, promotions and success in the lower leagues and even an incredible FA Cup victory back in 2013, the Latics are one of the latest clubs to be experiencing the horror of potential liquidation and expulsion from the EFL.

When new owners arrived at the club in June and failed to invest promised money, they were left financially devastated and placed into administration - a decision that saw them subsequently relegated from the Championship due to a 12 point deduction that saw them slip from 13th place in the table all the way down to 23rd.

On the pitch this season, despite the difficult and ever-changing circumstances, they continue to fight bravely against relegation and a win in this game would more than likely lift them out of the bottom four as they would leapfrog Dale in the League One table.

Currently sitting in 23rd place, the Latics beat bottom side Burton Albion in a 3-4 thriller in their last match, but that was over two weeks ago and they may be a little rusty as they make the relatively short trip to Spotland on Saturday afternoon.

Since that win over Burton, manager Leam Richardson has been able to hand the supporters some positive news in terms of the playing staff as new contracts have been handed to regular starters such as Will Keane and Dan Gardner and former Nottingham Forest man Tendayi Darikwa has arrived on a short-term deal.

If the interim boss can add one or two more and keep hold of talented youngsters such as Thelo Aasgaard and Kyle Joseph during this window, then they may look more prepared to take on the challenge of remaining in League One over the final months of the campaign.

Since going down 0-5 at home to Dale in the reverse of this fixture, the Tics have gone three games without tasting defeat, that win at the Pirelli Stadium coming on the back of consecutive draws with Fleetwood Town and Shrewsbury Town.

And given the nature of that defeat in the reverse, Richardson will see this game as a test of his team's mental strength. Can they continue that small upturn in form despite an enforced break whilst gaining revenge on Brian Barry-Murphy's side - or will a mis-matched squad crumble to another humiliating defeat?

History is on the Latics side in this fixture though. Dale's win in December was only their 7th in 28 meetings between these two North-West sides and indeed you have to go back as far as 1995 to find the last time that Dale managed a home win over Wigan in the league.


Charlton Athletic (a) - DRAW
Crewe Alexandra (h) - DRAW
Gillingham (h) - LOSS
Wigan Athletic (a) - WIN
Peterborough United (a) - LOSS

Wigan Athletic:
Burton Albion (a) - WIN
Shrewsbury Town (h) - DRAW
Fleetwood Town (a) - DRAW
Rochdale (h) - LOSS
Accrington Stanley (h) - WIN
WIGAN - 17
DRAW - 4

14 Nov 2015 - Rochdale 0-2 Wigan Athletic - League One
28 Mar 2016 - Wigan Athletic 1-0 Rochdale - League One
24 Feb 2018 - Wigan Athletic 1-0 Rochdale - League One
10 Apr 2018 - Rochdale 1-4 Wigan Athletic - League One
15 Dec 2020 - Wigan Athletic 0-5 Rochdale - League One

Photo: Action Images

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