The Championship is back and Preston North End travel to Wigan Athletic in search of three points.
Wigan Athletic vs. Preston North End
Championship | DW Stadium
July 30th 2022 | 3pm (UK)
It doesn’t feel like two minutes since Preston’s 2021-22 campaign ended with a 4-1 thrashing of Middlesbrough.
The start of the season has been brought forward due to the World Cup later this year, so Preston’s campaign starts today.
Ryan Lowe starts his first full season in charge of Preston today and will be desperate to start with a victory.
A local battle with Wigan Athletic is a fascinating start and we have compiled 10 things to know ahead of kickoff…
1. First meeting since February 2020
Preston head to the DW Stadium for a first meeting with Wigan for more than two years.
North End’s last visit came just a few weeks before the COVID-19 pandemic really started in the UK, and it was a great day for all connected to the club.
Tom Barkhuizen and Daniel Johnson were on the scoresheet in a 2-1 Preston victory whilst Wigan ended up suffering relegation amid a 12-point deduction.
Preston return today and will be backed by another huge following – just shy of 5000 fans will be making the journey this afternoon.
2. Preston open against League One champions again
North End started last season with a home game against League One champions Hull City – and it turned out to be a nightmare.
Hull ran riot in a 4-1 victory as Emil Riis’s opening goal proved to be as good as it got for Preston.
It’s a new season but a similar opening for Preston, who again take on last season’s League One champions.
Wigan won the League One title with 92 points last season, three more than Hull had racked up a year earlier.
We can only hope that North End don’t repeat last year’s opening day horror show!
3. Who will North End be facing today?
Wigan haven’t been all that busy in the summer transfer window. Ryan Nyambe is the only established signing whilst youngsters Luke Brennan and Josh Stones have arrived too.
Nyambe may not be fit to start today’s game but will be looking for a place on the bench.
Leam Richardson played a three-man back line on many occasions last season and is likely to go that way again.
Joe Bennett and Curtis Tilt are fighting it out as the left-sided centre back, whilst former Preston loanee Will Keane is likely to support the attack.
Talented youngster Thelo Aasgaard is pushing for a start, whilst Josh Magennis will hope to lead the line ahead of Charlie Wyke and Stephen Humphrys.
Possible Wigan XI: Amos; Darikwa, Kerr, Whatmough, Bennett, McClean; Shinnie, Naylor; Keane; Lang, Magennis.
4. Is Brad Potts fit to play?
Potts featured prominently in pre-season but then missed the final warm-up game against Leicester City last weekend.
Some worried that Potts may have a knock that would keep him out of today’s trip to Wigan.
However, Ryan Lowe indicated that the only injury absentee for Preston is striker Seani Maguire.
That would mean that Potts is available to start and it may be that North End kept him out as a precaution given the lack of other options at right wing back.
5. Predicted Preston lineup
North End are likely to go with Freddie Woodman in goal after his summer move from Newcastle United.
Jordan Storey should be the right-sided centre back with Andrew Hughes on the left.
Liam Lindsay played a more prominent role in pre-season than Patrick Bauer and may get the nod in the centre of Lowe’s back three.
Potts is likely to start on the right with Robbie Brady on the left, whilst a familiar midfield trio of Ben Whiteman, Alan Browne and Daniel Johnson should feature.
Troy Parrott is pushing for a start after joining from Tottenham Hotspur but we’re backing Ched Evans to partner Emil Riis up top today.
Parrott, Alvaro Fernandez and Ben Woodburn would all be likely to feature from the bench.
Predicted Preston lineup: Woodman; Storey, Lindsay, Hughes; Potts, Browne, Whiteman, Johnson, Brady; Evans, Riis.
Predicted Preston substitutes: Cornell, Bauer, Fernandez, Ledson, McCann, Woodburn, Parrott.
6. How have Preston fared against Wigan?
Preston and Wigan have met 49 times in all competitions over the years, with the first meeting coming in the League Cup back in 1980.
The most famous game against Wigan in the minds of Preston fans came in April 2000, with Michael Jackson bagging the only goal of the game to push North End closer to promotion from the third tier.
Photos of a blood-soaked Jackson are still circulated this day, more than 20 years since his all-important goal at the DW Stadium.
Preston’s form in this fixture has been strong over the years, losing just one of the last six meetings between the two teams.
Of those 49 meetings with Wigan, Preston have won 20, lost 15 and drawn 14.
7. What Ryan Lowe has said
Big things are expected of Preston boss Lowe this season and a win today would be the perfect start to the season.
Lowe spoke to the media on Thursday and looked ahead to this clash with the Latics.
Lowe highlighted his desire to really push on towards the top six this season but also suggested that Wigan deserve respect.
The North End manager praised counterpart Leam Richardson for a ‘fantastic’ job last season and told his Preston players to give the respect Wigan deserve – but also stated that the Lilywhites are travelling with a win in mind.
“We just want to be that little bit better than we were last season,” said Lowe. “We don’t have to travel too far (for Wigan) so that’s definitely important, but for us, we have to respect Wigan massively for what they have done.”
“Leam Richardson did a fantastic job last season. To go up as champions was really pleasing for them after what they had gone through. We’ve got to respect them but go there full of confidence and look after what we do. We’re going to hopefully play our football and get a result,” he added, as quoted by Lancs Live.
8. What the opposition manager has said
Wigan boss Richardson spent years working with Paul Cook at Accrington, Chesterfield, Portsmouth and then Wigan.
The 42-year-old took the Wigan job himself in 2020 and guided the Latics to the League One title last season.
Richardson has talked about the game as well, and actually talked about Preston being a great model for any promoted team.
North End won promotion in 2015 and have ‘consolidated really well’ in the eyes of Richardson, who praised Preston whilst speaking to the Lancashire Post.
“Against a side that’s been in this division for a number of years, who have consolidated really well, backed most of the managers they’ve had to make those steps forward,” said Richardson. “I think it’s a great model for any team to look at, a really strong club with a really strong team,” he added.
9. Preston’s Yellow wall
Preston are taking just shy of 5,000 fans to the DW Stadium today and the message is clear: wear something yellow!
PNE Online have been pushing for fans to wear yellow or bring yellow flags, creating a Borussia Dortmund-style yellow wall in the away end.
That should be quite the visual if it comes off as intended, with North End seeking to create a big atmosphere on the opening day.
10. Who is the referee?
Today’s referee is Bobby Madley, a former Premier League referee who quit in 2018 and was dismissed from the PGMOL ranks in 2019.
Madley has though returned to English football after a spell in Norway.
The 36-year-old has refereed in League One and League Two in recent years, even taking charge of the 2021 League Two play-off final between Newport County and Morecambe.
Now back refereeing in the Championship, this is Madley’s first game involving Preston since January 2017; the FA Cup defeat against Arsenal.