Barely a month has passed since Wigan last played a league game, but it may as well have been ten years ago given the drastically different circumstances at the club now.
The shadow of a 12-point deduction certainly hung over Wigan at the tail end of last season, but their remarkable league form seemed to have saved their bacon.
However, it was not to be, and a Fulham equaliser on the final day of the season sent them spiralling down to League One.
To make matters far worse, they not only find themselves in a lower division than two months previously, they also have lost virtually every decent player contracted to them last term.
Wigan were the victims of one of the worst fire sales ever witnessed in the Football League and it’s difficult to see how they avoid consecutive relegations this season.
Their preparation for their league opener at Ipswich could not be any worse, and it will be a minor miracle if the Latics come away from Portman Road with anything.
Ipswich, for their part, have stabilised after a truly awful season ended in Championship relegation in 2018/19 and now look ready to fight for promotion back to the second tier.
Their dip in form just prior to the COVID-19 outbreak was worrying, but Paul Lambert’s side could hardly wish for a better side to start anew and Ipswich (-1) looks the best value.
Wigan’s defensive record during last season’s run-in was nothing short of sensational. Paul Cook’s side kept a staggering 10 clean sheets from their final 13 games and were surely the envy of every defensive coach in the league.
Unfortunately for Wigan, the four mainstays of that impenetrable back four have all left the club, as has goalkeeper David Marshall and manager Paul Cook.
They approach this game managerless and, frankly, hopeless. Any notions of keeping an 11th league clean sheet in their last 14 games can be forgotten about and Ipswich should score at their leisure.
The home side have not played a league match since March, but should have no trouble whatsoever adjusting to the demands of league football against a side that has been haphazardly thrown together. There should be goals galore in this one so we’re on Over 3.5 Goals.
Ipswich’s joint top-scorer will be chomping at the bit on Sunday in a bid to get his campaign off to the perfect start.
Jackson and James Norwood both finished with 11 goals last season, but it was Jackson who proved more influential, popping up with late winners or solitary goals in tight games more often than his strike partner.
Both strikers will fancy their chances of getting their account up and running on Sunday, but Jackson appeared more than Norwood last season and will probably get the nod to lead the line this weekend.
If this game does develop into a turkey shoot, it stands to reason that Jackson will get chances and take at least one.
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