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Scouting Report: Wigan Athletic (Home)

It’s a six-pointer for the Royals but what are their opponents made of?

AFC Bournemouth v Wigan Athletic - The Emirates FA Cup Third Round Photo by Steve Bardens/Getty Images

Reading FC enter this weekend’s game with Wigan Athletic on the back of a last-gasp victory over Ipswich Town last Saturday, while the Latics’ last fixture ended in a 2-1 defeat away to Derby County. Modou Barrow was the Royals’ saviour in Suffolk last weekend and the supporters will be hoping that the squad can ride a wave of momentum and get another vital three points against Paul Cook’s side.

Reece James has been the stand-out performer so far this season for the Latics and he could be a key player for Cook’s side if they are to stay up. The Chelsea loanee is typically a right-back, but in their last fixture he was positioned in the holding midfield role and put in a very respectable performance.

He ended the game with an 81% pass success and five tackles won. Putting that into context, Derby started the game with two defensive midfielders in Tom Huddlestone and Bradley Johnson, but James won more challenges than both of them put together. If he keeps his place in this position, the Royals could really struggle with trying to control the midfield.

Chance creation is a real strong point for the Latics and the Royals can not allow too many opportunities, otherwise we will be in for a very difficult afternoon. Wigan average 12.4 shots per game so far this campaign, a respectable mid-table ranking for a side currently just outside the bottom three. It doesn’t matter how accurate their shooting is - if you allow this many chances, one will eventually go in.

And in a match like this, one goal could be the difference, so a clean sheet for the Royals could be vital. The return of Nick Powell to the Latics squad will be a worry for Reading as the former Manchester United man looks to regather his early season form on his return from injury.

Now, prediction time. I’m going to go with 2-0 to the Royals. The players will be full of confidence after last week’s dramatic victory and hopefully we can turn a corner and enforce the gap between us and the rest of our relegation rivals.

A win for the Royals in RG2 this weekend will also vastly improve the atmosphere around the stadium which will give the players more confidence to put on a performance. However, a loss against the Latics and I think it’ll be very difficult to survive this season.