Leeds United travel to Wigan on Saturday afternoon – here’s Gabriel Sutton’s preview of the contest.

 

Wigan’s problems

Wigan Athletic had something of a horror-show last week, losing 3-0 at Lancashire neighbours Preston North End – a result that threw up several major question marks regarding the structure of this side.

Firstly, the Latics need centre-back Chey Dunkley in the league XI after a solid EFL Cup showing in the 1-0 defeat to Stoke; Cedric Kipre can be somewhat erratic and Danny Fox is only 6’0” so when they play together, they struggle to defend their penalty area.

Secondly, Wigan need Sam Morsy and the tenacity he brings, which was so crucial when Paul Cook’s side won 2-1 at Elland Road back in April.

The Egyptian was not missed so much on the opening day 3-2 win, because opponents Cardiff bypassed the midfield, but North End used those central areas a lot more.

Summer signing Lewis MacLeod gave his all but Lee Evans, although talented, showed his tendency to lose concentration in the defensive phases of play and that can be problematic when part of a double-pivot in Cook’s 4-2-3-1.

The other issue is that MacLeod and Evans have to cover more ground when Josh Windass plays as a number 10, because he so often pushes up beyond the main striker – which is likely to be new signing Kieffer Moore on Saturday – thus the formation often flips into a 4-4-2 which can make it harder for Wigan to gain a grip on the midfield.

Of course, day one showed Windass’ willingness to run in behind and stretch defences can be a strength, but at the same time it could also lead to a lack of support for the double-pivot against high-class opposition.

 

Leeds to take control?

Leeds United won 3-0 at Salford on Wednesday night, without ever needing to get out of second gear.

They always looked in control with Ben White producing another assured display at centre-back and Kalvin Phillips completing over 100 passes at the base of the midfield.

The Whites only needed three moments of genuine quality – Jamie Shackleton’s through ball, Helder Costa’s corner and Mateusz Klich’s strike – to open the Ammies up.

Ironically, one could argue that Leeds created more at home to Nottingham Forest in their previous league game yet drew 1-1, just because their finishing was not as strong and they did not defend a corner properly.

Eddie Nketiah’s debut goal last time out intensifies the competition up top, especially with question marks about Patrick Bamford dating back to the tail end of the previous campaign.

Nketiah got a lot of praise for his debut performance but he seems best suited to utilizing wide open spaces where he can really utilize his speed, whereas Bamford can play in tight areas and still be at his best.

Costa meanwhile, got two assists at Salford – and the Portuguese wide forward could still go up another level in terms of general performance, which is a frightening prospect in many ways.

Leeds have looked short of quality in the final third since around March time and perhaps been over-reliant on silky Spaniard Pablo Hernandez; Costa though will give them alternative touches of quality and that could be a defining factor in West Lancashire.

Tip: Leeds to win

 

Read Gabriel’s League Two weekend preview.

Odds are correct at the time of posting

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