Match Preview: Wigan Athletic vs Queens Park Rangers

Paul Thomas

The biggest game of the season so far for the Latics boys. A home game against early season pace setters QPR should be right up our street. The game is one of the two that we have in hand of the rest of the teams in the Championship and making it count will be important to any promotion plus.

Eleven games unbeaten, then QPR traveled to fellow high flyers Burnley at the weekend and the all conquering QPR fell. A very impressive Danny Inngs inspired performance meant that Burnely came out 2-0 victors over QPR as they slipped to third in the table and five points behind the leaders.

If they want to get back in contention they have to go past us. A team that at home has been having it all our own way so far this season, two draws and three wins means we remain unbeaten at home this season. Will QPR be the ones to change that? They have more of a chance than most teams do.

Since their relegation Harry Redknapp as twisted and changed the side it the squad that he he wants and needs for promotion out of the Championship. All the egotistical players have gone, and instead the group at QPR are a bunch of hard working talented football players, that even goes for the suspended Joey Barton.

Strong at the back QPR has the best defensive record in the league having only conceded six goals this season. If it wasn't hard enough for us to score goals, it may have just got even harder for us. A combination of luck and quality strikes have seen us score goals, no killer striker in the box, no matter ho hard Grant Holt tries.

The tell tale signs of this game point towards a draw, especially if we manage to keep Charlie Austin quiet for QPR. The man has bagged seven goals this term, with only Andrew Johnson hitting two goals this season. Keep the front man out of the game and we may not be conceding any our-self.

That said we have a young man in the sticks tonight. Young Lee Nicholls will now be the first choice goal keeper for the foreseeable future. Ali Al Habsi is still out following surgery and could be another month away, while Scott Carson has an ankle problem which again could see him out for up to a month. The young goalkeeper has much to learn and quickly.

After his impressive loan spell at Northampton last season, Lee showed that he has the talent to perform as the first choice goalkeeper. That was continued against Charlton where for a man short on experience he looked comfortable in between the sticks.

There is good news in terms of players available for Wigan. New signing Marc Albrighton will be able to feature for the side, hopefully he will take up a place on the bench and will get a ten minute run out at the end to be introduced to the crowd ahead of the weekends game against Huddersfield.

This one those is important. If we mange to win the game, Latics could climb to 9th in the table with another home game at the weekend to start pushing for a play off position. Lose the game, and we stay eight points behind 6th placed Nottingham Forrest.

Sometimes the fate of a teams season hangs on one game. The game tonight could shape what happens between now and May.

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