Blackburn v Wigan: Rovers to dispatch travel-sick Latics

Blackburn have propelled themselves to within touching distance of the Championship's play-off places, and should be capable of piling more misery on relegation-threatened Wigan on Monday, says Mark O'Haire.

Blackburn v Wigan
Monday December 23, 19:45
Sky Sports

Blackburn excel at Ashton Gate

Blackburn moved to within touching distance of the Championship's play-off places after overcoming Bristol City comfortably at Ashton Gate in their last outing. Rovers' 2-0 triumph was their sixth success in eight games (W6-D1-L1) with Tony Mowbray's troops recording a third clean sheet in that same sequence despite making widespread changes to the team.
The Lancashire outfit were without suspended 10-goal top scorer Bradley Dack at Bristol City and Mowbray opted to make six overall alterations to the starting XI. Despite resting and rotating, Rovers again impressed in their simplified 4-4-2 diamond system with their discipline, tenacity and organisation, limiting their hosts to a solitary on-target attempt.
Dack is now expected to return to the team for this weekend's Ewood Park encounter, along with in-form Corry Evans in the centre of the park. Elsewhere, Danny Graham should feature in attack, whilst the burgeoning centre-half partnership of Darragh Lenihan and Tosin Adarabioyo will continue with Ryan Nyambe keeping his place at right-back.

Wigan's winless run extends

Relegation-threatened Wigan extended their winless streak to 10 games (W0-D4-L6) after bagging back-to-back draws at home to West Brom and Huddersfield. The Latics deserved more from their contest with an understrength Baggies outfit but struggled to reach the same high standards last time out, leaking a leveller with 20 minutes to play at the DW.
Josh Windass livened up an uninspiring first-half by capitalising on Huddersfield's keeper's poor clearance to put the Latics ahead before the break. Another defensive error almost let Windass in again, before the Terriers earned parity with 20 minutes to go. Wigan came close to pinching the points but were forced to share the spoils in a largely forgettable fixture.
Under-pressure Athletic boss Paul Cook was frustrated his team were unable to hold on for a much-needed three points, saying, "It is what it is with us, again we're so disappointed not to see the game out. Our naivety shone through especially with our shape; at this level teams like Huddersfield can punish you. We've got to try and get better, so have the teams around us."

Rovers fair odds-on favourites

No more than 25 miles apart, Blackburn and Wigan have been regular adversaries over the past 15 years. The duo have locked horns in the Premier League, Championship and League One in that spell with Rovers enjoying supremacy at Ewood Park with a W9-D2-L1 league return against the Latics since 2006. The hosts won 3-0 here against Athletic in March.
Blackburn 1.81 have accumulated 19 points from a possible 24 (W6-D1-L1) in eight encounters since the start of November. The return from injury of Darragh Lenihan, plus a switch to a more simplified game-plan by boss Tony Mowbray has paid dividends with Rovers particularly impressive at Ewood Park (W16-D10-L8 since the start of last season).
Wigan 4.90 remain rooted inside the Championship's bottom-three with only three triumphs to their name this term. The Latics are winless in 10 (W0-D4-L6), have failed to take top honours on their travels in 2019/20 and have managed just W2-D8-L24 in games as guests since returning to the second-tier - a damming 71% loss rate on the road.

Avoid goals

Eleven of the last 15 fixtures between Blackburn and Wigan have featured Over 2.5 Goals (1.95) and a repeat could appeal considering the visitors have crossed the goals barrier in 7/11 (64%) away days this term due to their dismal defensive record outside of the DW Stadium. However, with Blackburn relatively rigid, I'm happy to swerve the goals markets.
Rovers' new-look approach has limited opposition opportunities and at the other end, Tony Mowbray's men have bagged more than a solitary strike on just occasions in 11 Ewood Park outings this season, suggesting a straight play on the hosts is probably our safest selection for Monday evening's derby date.

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