Off the back of a battling display at Griffin Park, which ultimately saw Middlesbrough return to Teesside empty handed, Jonathan Woodgate now takes his team accross the Pennines to the DW Stadium for a showdown with Wigan Athletic.
Since Woodgate was given the final Manager of the Month award of the 2010-2019 decade on January 10th 2020, Middlesbrough are winless in all competitions, drawing three and losing three of their last six matches.
While Middlesbrough are without a win in the league since January 1st, Wigan have two wins – over Leeds and Sheffield Wednesday – in their last three games.
Saturday’s loss to Preston followed a 1-0 victory over the then table-topping Leeds as well as a home scalp over the Owls four days earlier.
Latic’s boss Paul Cook called for more ‘devilment’ in his sides performance after falling to a 2-1 defeat at Deepdale.
Proir to the two victories over Yorkshire rivals, were – like Middlesbrough – also without a win since New Years Day. On his side’s recent inconsistency, Cook said “I just don’t understand it. The first five or six things we did, I’m sitting there as a manager shaking my head.
“I think anyone who has seen a lot of us this season will know there is an inconsistency that makes us consistent. And unfortunately today that inconsistency has come out.”
The first meeting between Middlesbrough and Wigan Athletic was the second game in the 1986/87 season, following the 2-2 draw with Port Vale that was played at Hartlepool’s Victoria Park, where Boro ran out 2-0 winners.
The reverse fixture was the highest attendance at Ayresome Park, when a reported 18,523 people watched the Boro return back to the second division.
Wigan and Middlesbrough have only faced off 18 times since 1987, with Boro losing on only two occasions – a 3-2 defeat at the Riverside in 2006 and a 1-0 defeat in the North West in 2007.
Middlesbrough won the next game at the then JJB Stadium, in the Teessider’s last season in the Premier League until 2015, but have drawn their last three ties at the home of Wigan.
Harold Moukoudi made his Boro debut against Brentford on Saturday and looks set to continue in the side. His boss described him as a ‘Premier League Player in the making.’
Moukoudi may be flanked by an extra centre back in this formation, as Woodgate attempted to match Brentford’s set-up in the hopes of stopping their potent attack.
A return to the five-back system may add a bit of attacking creativity, with Djed Spence being able to offer more of a threat in a more forward position.
Britt Assombalonga will again be looking to stake his place for a starting role, but as Ashley Fletcher notched his 10th goal of the season at the weekend, Boro’s number 11 should be sure of his starting place.