Sabri Lamouchi’s side sit joint-top of the Championship the day before their trip to the DW Stadium, but can the Latics derail the Frenchman’s stellar start to the season?
As both sides head into their twelfth league game of the campaign, Forest appear runaway favourites to come away from Greater Manchester with three points.
The hosts have only picked up a point per game so far, however have been buoyed by solid form at home. Latics have 10 points from a possible 15 in front of their own supporters, but only one point from their six games on their travels so far. Crucially, Wigan also boast the most Championship clean sheets at home since the start of last season, with 14.
Forest come into the match on an unbeaten run stretching back to the second game of the season as they held Leeds United to a draw at Elland Road. They had a spring in their step going into the international break as they managed to take a share of the points as they visited Blackburn on their last trip to the north-west, and held onto a 1-0 win over Brentford last time out.
The Reds are also the only Championship team to have scored in every one of their league games so far this season, but have had the joint-fewest shots on target (33) along with Sunday’s opponents Wigan.
“They will put pressure on us and it will be a tough game for us; my players know that. Physically they are strong, they have two fast wingers and good players.”Sabri Lamouchi, Nottingham Forest manager
The visitors on Sunday can rely on a sturdy defence of late, only having conceded three goals in their last five league games and keeping three clean sheets. Latics have let in five and kept two clean sheets in the same period, but it’s their early-season run of five league defeats in a row which has contributed most to their current position of 19th, leaving them three points from the relegation zone.
Sunday is likely to see the return of Ben Watson to his former stomping ground. Watson lifted the FA Cup with Wigan in their unforgettable triumph over Manchester City in 2013, heading in the winner in injury time after coming off the bench just some ten minutes earlier.
His performances for Forest this season have been similarly heroic at times. Some fans have called his form ‘a revelation’. His Man of the Match award in their win over Brentford in early October was, in my opinion, thoroughly deserved even had he not scored the winner in the 56th minute (incidentally, the second winner Watson scored in that minute in three games). The midfielder broke up play well and sprayed some excellent balls out wide which at times looked effortless.
Watson isn’t the only one receiving praise going into this weekend’s encounter. Latics manager Paul Cook, who has been in the DW Stadium dugout since joining from Portsmouth in 2017, was apparently on League One Sunderland’s managerial shortlist after former St Mirren manager Jack Ross lost his job earlier this month.
“We’ve had a couple of injuries to players you might have expected to see in the starting XI, so we’ll have to make a couple of changes based on that, but we’ll keep our cards close to our chest on that until Sunday.”Paul Cook, Wigan Athletic manager
The Chronicle, however, reported that although the Sun claimed Cook was interested in the position, Latics denied Sunderland’s request to speak to their manager. The Black Cats currently sit ninth in League One, eight points off leaders Ipswich Town, and appointed former Bradford and Bolton boss Phil Parkinson as manager on October 19.
Forest have not lost to Latics since March 2014, but the hosts have never lost a home match against Sabri Lamouchi’s side in all competitions, winning two and drawing five.
Wigan Athletic: Welsh international Kieffer Moore scored his first goal for his country during the break; Charlie Mulgrew and David Marshall both appeared for Scotland. Latics captain Samy Morsy will miss Sunday’s encounter with Forest through suspension after picking up his fifth booking of the season against Sheffield Wednesday.
Nottingham Forest: Sabri Lamouchi has indicated that Alfa Semedo will be back soon, while fellow midfielder Samba Sow needs more time to recover from his hamstring injury. Lamouchi is hopeful that captain Michael Dawson will be “close to returning next week for Hull and Reading.”