Gills v Wigan: Preview & Predictions

Come on, let’s be honest, we never really saw this start coming, did we?

If we had been offered seven points from nine at the start of the season, plus progress in the League Cup, we would have jumped at the chance.

With Sheffield United up first, and then three consecutive away trips totalling nearly 1,000 miles of travelling, even the most optimistic of Gills fans may have been pushing their luck in predicting such an opening to the new term.

But after just under two weeks of the campaign, that is precisely what Justin Edinburgh’s men have achieved.

The boys in blue were outstanding on the opening day.

And in good style too.

In the opening four fixtures, the boys in blue have shown that they can get the ball down and play – evident in the 4-0 opening day mauling of the Blades – and they can also mix it up and dig in when required, as they did at Port Vale and in their come from behind victories over Plymouth and Bradford.

So with this start behind us, how much can Edinburgh and his charges achieve this term?

He has been very quick to adopt the ‘feet firmly on the ground‘ mentality, but in private he must be absolutely delighted at how his players have started the campaign.

With so many new arrivals coming in over the summer, we would surely have been forgiving if it had taken a while for some of them to bed in, but pretty much every single one of them has hit the ground running.

So much so that after three league fixtures we sit second in the table despite Cody McDonald, Doug Loft and Max Ehmer not featuring at all, and Jermaine McGlashan, Aaron Morris and Bradley Garmston having only made fleeting appearances.

Deji Oshilaja has been impressive in keeping Max Ehmer on the sidelines.

As Justin said when he started overhauling his squad at the end of last season, he was going to look for quality over quantity, and so far he has been true to his word.

But it is not just the new additions that have made the difference.

Some of those who perhaps last term didn’t have things go their way have started to step up to the plate and show what good footballers they are.

Step forward Brennan Dickenson and Luke Norris.

Dickenson has reinvented himself as an attacking left back, and has been so successful – he has directly contributed to three of the Gills seven goals to date – that he is currently keeping Bradley Garmston out of the side.

Brennan Dickenson (24) has already set up three Gillingham goals this term.

Norris has now become the bustling, hard working centre forward that we knew was in him last season but didn’t see enough.

Gone is the arm flailing and hands on hips when things don’t go for him, and an improved attitude has seen him net twice in the first four games.

It is testament to him that he lead the line for 82 minutes at Bradford despite rolling his ankle in the warm up.

And then there is Bradley Dack.

Currently playing so well that most Gillingham fans cannot wait for the transfer window to close so that they know they can watch him for a few more months at least, he has helped himself to three goals in the first four games, and is perhaps the most exciting player to grace Priestfield of his generation.

Keeping him could go a long way to determining just how successful the club can be in 2015-16, he is currently that good.

Another gage of how far this side can go arrives in Kent tomorrow in the form of newly relegated Wigan Athletic, a side that just two years ago was tasting FA Cup glory at Wembley.

Obviously that is quite a fall from grace, but for any Gills fan talking about Wigan and Wembley you immediately get drawn to that mad afternoon in May 2000.

Gills 3 Wigan 2, May 2000 – the greatest day in the club’s history.

But like their team back then, this current Latics side should be there or thereabouts come the business end of the season.

Their budget is probably more suited to the Championship than League One, and their ambitious Chairman wants them to ‘smash‘ the division in record style, but it could be a good time to play them as they adjust to their new surroundings, which are slightly more lowly than they have been accustomed to over the last decade.

Gills’ Team News

Justin Edinburgh is hoping to have striker Cody McDonald fit enough for the bench having not featured so far, but the encounter will come to soon for the midfield trio of Emmanuel Osadebe, Doug Loft and Aaron Morris.

It is hoped they will be available for the midweek Capital One Cup trip to Championship side Birmingham City, but if not they should be in contention for next Saturday’s game at Peterborough.

IMG_6591

RainhamEndViews’ selected XI.

With so many unavailable in the middle of the park, plus the fact that they played so well in the week, Justin may be inclined to go with the same side that played so well at Bradford on Tuesday.

If it’s not broke and all that.

This has all the makings of another good game, a proper battle between a young side looking to push on versus one trying to get back to where they want to be.

However, such is the feel good factor around Gillingham Football Club at the moment, both within the squad and in the stands amongst supporters, I have to go with the home side.

Gillingham 3 Wigan 1

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