Wigan Athletic boss Paul Cook on set-piece preparations, a physical advantage and what Leeds United fans deserve

Paul Cook prepared his Wigan Athletic side to hurt Leeds United from set-pieces, before today's 1-0 win at Elland Road thanks to a goal direct from a corner.

By Graham Smyth
Saturday, 1st February 2020, 6:46 pm
Updated Saturday, 1st February 2020, 6:56 pm

The Whites were completely dominant for the vast majority of the game, but couldn't score.

They won 13 corners and failed to make any of them count, while the Latics won six and one of Joe Williams' deliveries deflected off Pablo Hernandez and sailed through the hands of Kiko Casilla in the Leeds goal.

Wigan won this fixture last season as well but Cook saw few similarities between the two results.

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"I think last year's game was quite a unique game," he said of the 2018/19 season game Wigan won 2-1 despite having a man sent off.

"To have 10 men for so long it was a freakish result. I think last year has to be a freak one. You can't play Leeds United with 10 men, be 1-0 down and win, you can't do it. To do it was a million to one shot.

"Today it was 11 v 11 a much more competitive game until they took control, which they are going to do at home. We had to defend manfully and did that really well.

"I thought set-pieces were going to be important for us today, we worked on them in the week, we felt we had a physicality advantage.

Paul Cook felt his side would have a physicality advantage and prepared his team to hurt Leeds from set-pieces (Pic: Bruce Rollinson)

"I'm delighted for the players, to finish the week with six points from the position we're in. The work ethic and desire shone through."

Cook switched to a back five for the trip to Elland Road because he didn't want Leeds to find holes in his defence. Wigan packed the area when Leeds were attacking and as a result, countless crosses were blocked at source.

Leeds might have mustered 18 shots but only five of those were on target.

"You know you're going to come under pressure here, we couldn't leave gaps like we have been doing in the back four," said Cook.

"If we'd have been open and expansive Leeds would have punished us. Once you fill the gaps you still have to defend well and we did, against players with very good movement.

"We know where Leeds want to hurt you, by watching teams and being in the crowd now and again here. It was important we filled those holes.

"We had to defend at times. We had one or two moments and you must take your chances."

The result saw Leeds slip to second in the Championship, a point behind new leaders West Brom and three ahead of third-placed Fulham.

Despite their current form - with just two wins in 10 - Cook hopes Marcelo Bielsa's men will prevail in their promotion race to give Whites fans what he feels they deserve.

"I would like to wish Leeds well they're a fantastic club," he said.

"These fans are such strong supporters, they deserve success and I hope success comes to them this season."