Meet the opposition | Wigan Athletic

31st October 2022
First team
Wigan Athletic

As Swansea City prepare to host Wigan Athletic at the Stadium (Saturday 3pm), we look at the history, form and the key figures for the Lactics. 

What's their story? 

Established in 1932 Wigan Athletic spent over 40 years of their existence plying their trade outside the top four tiers before being elected to the Football League in 1978. 

They would enjoy the finest period of their history following the takeover of the club by local entrepreneur and former footballer Dave Whelan. They moved to the JJB Stadium - now the DW Stadium - and the club climbed from the fourth tier to the heights of the Premier League by 2005.

They would remain in the top-flight for eight years, and won a number of plaudits for their style of play under former Swansea boss Roberto Martinez.

He would guide them to FA Cup success in 2013 as they shocked Manchester City at Wembley to secure the club's first major honour, but just days later they suffered relegation from the Premier League.

Recent years have seen the club bounce between League One and the Championship with the club winning the League One title on three occasions.

The most recent of those occasions came last term under manager Leam Richardson, when they pipped Rotherham United to the title on the final day of the season.

How's their form? 

Wigan Athletic-

It was an October to forget for the newly-promoted Lactics, as they lost six of their eight fixtures and the last four on the bounce. They also started November with a midweek defeat to Stoke.

Home form has proved a problem with Richardson's team scoring just six goals in nine home games, losing five times in their own backyard.

However, their away form has been more positive. They have taken 13 points from 24 on the road, that one of the better returns in the division.

Who’s the Gaffer? 

Leam Richardson

Former Accrington Stanley defender and manager Leam Richardson is the man in the hot seat at the DW Stadium. Richardson has been at the Lancashire club since 2017 when he initially joined as assistant to then-manager Paul Cook, who he had previously assisted at Chesterfield. 

On Cook’s departure from the club in 2020, Richardson was placed in caretaker charge until John Sheridan's appointment.

However, Sheridan's tenure would last just 15 games before he left for Swindon Town, and Richardson was once again installed as caretaker boss.

He impressed enough to be handed the full-time position in March 2021 and he went on to lead the Latics to promotion in his first full season in charge.

Who's the captain? 

Tendayi Darikwa

Zimbabwe international midfielder Tendayi Darikwa is the skipper of the Lactics.

The 30-year-old - who can operate in defence as well as in the middle of the park - has been at the Lancashire club since January 2021 after leaving Nottingham Forest on a free transfer.

Darikwa has been a regular throughout his time at the DW Stadium, making 92 appearances in the process.

The former Burnley and Chesterfield player has been captain of the club since the start of the 2021-22 promotion winning season. 

Who are the key men? 

Will Keane

Former Manchester United striker Will Keane is the main focal point of Wigan’s attack. Last season’s top scorer's 26 league goals fired the Lactics to promotion back to the Championship after a two-year absence, and secured Keane the League One golden boot.

A player with Championship experience at various clubs including Hull City, Preston North End and Ipswich Town, it’s at the DW Stadium where the Republic of Ireland international has shone most scoring 42 goals in 94 league games since his arrival from Portman Road in 2020. 

Brother of Everton defender Michael, Keane is currently top scorer for the Lancashire club with six goals this campaign. 

Birkenhead-born winger Max Power is in his second spell at the club after reuniting with manager Leam Richardson ahead of the 2021-2022 season.

The right-sided speedster started out his career at Tranmere Rovers, who he joined at the age of eight and went on to make over 100 senior appearances for.

Power was a regular in his first spell at the Lactics after moving in 2015, making 127 league appearances in four years.

He was a key member of the teams that won promotion to the Championship in 2016 and 2018.

Power then joined Sunderland on loan, with the move eventually turned into a permanent deal. He suffered play-off final heartbreak with the Black Cats in 2019, but is back in the second tier having rejoined Wigan ahead of last season's promotion push.

Another player in his second spell with the Latics is combative veteran midfielder James McClean. A player with a wealth of  international, Premier League and Championship experience from his time with the likes of Stoke City and West Brom.

McLean rejoined the Lactics - who had a previous spell with between 2013 and 2015 at the beginning of last season.

The Republic of Ireland international is closing in on 100 appearances for his country having represented them at two European Championships in 2012 and 2016.