When Wigan Athletic kept Chelsea at bay for 90 minutes in the opening game of the season I thought they were a decent side playing above their heads. Looking back, seeing the drubbings that Chelsea’s been giving other sides, and I see how that game was no fluke. Wigan are a heck of a good team.
At the start of season who would have ever used the words ‘Wigan’ and ‘Europe’ in the same sentence? That’s just what we have.
In 1993 Wigan were relegated to the Third Division and languished until local entrepreneur Dave Whelan bought the club in 1995. In 1997 Wigan won promotion to the Second Division, just nipping Fulham for the title. It took a few more years, but in 2003 the Latics achieved promotion to the Second Division. Finishing second in the Championship last year they made it to the top flight for the first time.
Coach Paul Jewell's side has earned 19 points in 9 games since losing the opening two encounters against Chelsea and Charlton. They sit level on points with Tottenham and Charlton. Considering that 40 or so points pretty much assures you of survival at the top, Wigan have, in less than a third of the season, earned half the points they need. Pretty impressive stuff from a club that, a decade ago, was nowhere.
Are clubs underestimating Wigan? Looking ahead to a derby or a match against the Arsenal’s and Manchester United’s? Probably a bit, but they better stop. Wigan’s run won’t last, but survival looks pretty much assured.