If this match was played just a week ago, then you couldn’t have ruled out both sides finding a way to lose.
For it appeared both Charlton and Wigan were doomed. Latics more so, trapped in the relegation zone following a run of just one win in 17 games, but the Addicks were seemingly doing their upmost to join them having not won in 13 league attempts.
However, what exists in the present is a feeling of genuine hope.
While a six point gap exists between Wigan and safety, their hard-thought victory over Reading in midweek has given supporters the belief that their side could achieve safety.
Likewise, genuine fears of Charlton supporters have been quelled by an outstanding display in the 3-0 victory over Brentford. Qualities missing for months once again seen at The Valley, and a six point buffer now protecting the Addicks from the bottom three.
It sets up an intriguing contest, with both sets of supporters feeling a previously unnatural sense of confidence and belief.
For the winner, the prize will not only be three points in their battle against the drop, but also a sense that momentum is being built. The loser, however, will return to the desperate mood felt a week ago.
LAST MEETING: CHARLTON ATHLETIC 2-1 WIGAN ATHLETIC
Franck Moussa’s last minute goal gave the Addicks their first win of the season, and a win their attacking intent deserved.
Having been level with Wigan going into the game’s final ten minutes, Callum McManaman’s goal cancelling out Jordan Cousins’ impressive opener, Bob Peeters might well have set his side up to settle for a point.
But, instead, Charlton upped the intensity in the closing stages, and only a fine save from Scott Carson denied Igor Vetokele when one-on-one.
It meant that forward thinking looked to have been in vein. But Vetokele and Moussa combined in stoppage time for the latter to volley towards goal, and his deflected effort wrong-footed Carson before nestling into the back of the net.
With the club in a state of dismay and despair that matched if not bettered Charlton’s, Tuesday’s hard-thought victory over Reading was an unexpected reward for those Wigan fans who have suffered so much in the previous weeks and months.
They have not only had to endure decline on the pitch, the club a shadow of the well-respected Premier League outfit that also achieved FA Cup success, but also intolerable actions by those at the top of the club. Dave Whelan’s comments, and subsequent suspension, over his hiring of Malky MacKay well documented and surely embarrassing to committed Latics.
And with a depleted squad struggling for results under MacKay, it seemed as if that appointment had backfired in more ways than one. But the win over Reading, at the very least, has provided some much needed confidence and given the controversial boss a stay of execution.
Much like their opponents, however, one win has not solved all.
Having played for weeks without any notion of character, organisation or ability, not even the most optimistic of Addicks could have predicted the nature of the performance shown in Saturday’s victory over Brentford.
And in the same way the scorelines lost their importance to the manner in which the defeats occurred during Charlton’s 14 game winless run, the way in which the Addicks achieved their 3-0 victory was arguably more pleasing than the victory itself.
The organisation shown at the back suggested Luzon’s side have it within themselves to grind out results, the intensity in midfield, for much of the game at least, crucial to Charlton’s control of the game and the partnership between Igor Vetokele and the outstanding Tony Watt a more than promising one.
Alas, there is no Addick naïve enough to believe one victory has addressed all the club’s problems, both on and off the pitch.
In terms of those on the pitch issues, it’s absolutely vital that a repeat performance is seen at the DW, or the sizable amounts of confidence and momentum that has seemingly been gained will be lost.
Wigan will be without Chris Heard after the midfielder was forced off in the midweek victory over Reading.
Heard, who had only recently joined on loan from Aston Villa, will now return to his parent club, with the nature of his knee injury likely to keep him out for the duration of the season.
It leaves Latics desperately short in the centre of midfield, with Emyr Huws, Chris McCann and Don Cowie also expected to absent for Friday’s game. Kim Bo-Kyung, a naturally wide player, filled in in the centre on Tuesday, and he may have to do so again.
Charlton look set to have new signing Chris Eagles available for the trip to the DW, after the winger was snapped up on a short-term deal on Thursday.
But the Addicks will be without Johnnie Jackson after the skipper picked up an injury in Saturday’s victory over Brentford.
The inspiration skipper, whose words and fired-up performance helped to inspire The Valley crowd, will be a huge loss to the Addicks, especially with adequate replacements limited. The out-of-form Yoni Buyens the most likely man to come in.
Rhoys Wiggins is another who will be absent for the Addicks, with Morgan Fox again set to deputise for his fellow Welshman at left-back.
There may also be a need for someone to deputise for Roger Johnson, with the centre-back forced to take a pain-killing injection at half-time on Saturday having suffered a cracked rib. Should he be unable to play, then the horribly out-of-sorts Andre Bikey could come back into the side.
KEY BATTLE: NULLIFYING WIGAN’S CONFIDENCE
While he may have only been on the pitch just shy of 45 minutes, Jackson’s role in the level of intensity shown by the Addicks cannot be understated. From his pre-game hand gestures to his whole-hearted battling in midfield, his effort was injected into the rest of the side.
It was something his replacement, Buyens, couldn’t replicate. He was slow, tame and error prone. Thankfully, the desire did not diminish from Luzon’s side as a whole, and Brentford, despite bossing possession, failed to show any sense of direction.
Alas, there is a concern that should it be Buyens who starts ahead of Jackson at the DW, the Addicks will not only be without an uplifting figure, but be with one who negatively affects the entire side.
With Wigan experiencing midfield issues of their own, the Standard Liege loanee will possibly be afforded some slack, but if Charlton are to repeat the intense pressing play seen in the first half against Brentford and not allow Wigan a chance to get into the game, then Buyens must show strong signs of improvement.
That especially true with how quickly self-belief departs from this side if they go a goal behind, which will only be made more of an issue by the fact Wigan will further enhance their confidence and the DW crowd, however sparse, will be behind them.
A genuinely tough one to call. There’s new found confidence in both sides, tainted by injuries to key players. Alas, it is the hosts who require the three points more desperately, so preventing them from achieving victory will be a relative success for the Addicks.
Either way, at least I’ll get a decent pie out of it. Wigan Athletic 1-1 Charlton Athletic