Norwich vs Wigan predictions: Wigan can make Norwich work

Dan Sait
Spotlight
Dean Smith's Norwich endured an opening-day loss and will have to work hard to bounce back against Wigan
Dean Smith's Norwich endured an opening-day loss and will have to work hard to bounce back against Wigan

Two divisions separated Norwich and Wigan last term but with the Canaries dumped out of the Premier League and the Latics charging to League One glory, the pair find themselves back in the same section for the first time in four seasons. 

Both have very different goals in 2022-23 with Norwich fancied to achieve a third successive immediate return to the top flight while Wigan will be looking simply to consolidate their second-tier status. 

However, the Latics are full of confidence following a successful promotion campaign and morale-boosting draw with Preston on the opening weekend.

Norwich, meanwhile, are licking their wounds after a humbling Premier League stint and matchday one defeat to Cardiff, so this may not be the romping home win that many are expecting. 

Team news

Norwich's Grant Hanley is suspended for visit of Wigan
Norwich's Grant Hanley is suspended for visit of Wigan

Norwich manager Dean Smith should have more options available than on the opening weekend with new signing Gabriel Sara and attacking midfielder Kieran Dowell both likely to return from injury. 

Defensive pair Sam Byram and Ben Gibson have also returned to training and should be back in contention. 

However, Isaac Hayden’s Norwich debut looks to be on hold as he recovers from knee surgery and Tony Springett is also likely miss out with a twisted ankle. 

Grant Hanley is suspended after getting sent off in Cardiff and Marcelino Nunez may also have to wait for his Norwich bow having only signed on Tuesday. 

Wigan’s only first-team signing to date, right-back Ryan Nyambe, failed to make the squad against Preston due to a lack of match fitness. 

He could be included this weekend but is unlikely to make the starting XI. 

Latics manager Leam Richardson will also be sweating on the fitness of defender Jack Whatmough, who was forced off early against Preston following a heavy challenge. 

His replacement, Jason Kerr, stepped in with an assured performance and provides solid cover if needed. 

The stats

Norwich managed just one shot on target against Cardiff last weekend and even that was a relatively tame 25-yard effort from Todd Cantwell – although Kenny McLean did later hit the woodwork. 

It was a limp attacking display from a Canaries side who would have expected to dominate a much-changed and unfancied Cardiff team. 

However, Norwich have made slow starts to their last two seasons in the Championship and have still gone on to win the title.

In 2020-21, Norwich lost two and drew one of their opening four Championship matches but still bounced straight back to the Premier League as title winners. 

And in 2018-19 they showed little sign of going on to take the title by five points when claiming just one victory in their first six league games, losing three. 

Wigan unexpectedly dominated against Preston last weekend, claiming the majority of possession, allowing Preston only a couple of clear-cut chances while firing in 20 shots. 

Had they been more precise in their finishing, the Latics would have come away with all three points. 

Prediction

Norwich undeniably boast a stronger, more able squad than newly-promoted Wigan but the Canaries’ recent slow starts in the Championship suggest they may take time to clear their heads after a bruising relegation campaign. 

Home advantage and the quality gap should ensure that Norwich claim all three points but Wigan lost just three away games in League One last season – each by only a single goal – and were impressive in holding a fancied Preston attack at bay in last weekend’s 0-0 draw. 

They should not be readily dismissed.

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