Sunderland - Wigan Preview: Mackems seek first victory against Latics
Martin O'Neill's men have lost suspended captain Lee Cattermole but hope to collect their first Premier League win over Roberto Martinez' side, who have lost three in five games
By Arthur Virgo
Gardner, O'Shea, Bramble, Rose
Larsson, Vaughan, Colback, McClean
Ramis, Caldwell, Figueroa
Boyce, McArthur, McCarthy, Beausejour
Maloney, Boselli, Kone
Sunderland could field a defence unchanged from last weekend with Wes Brown (knee) and Phil Bardsley (ankle) injured, and Carlos Cuellar (hamstring) still doubtful, forcing midfielders Craig Gardner and Danny Rose again to start at full-back alongside Titus Bramble and John O'Shea.
Team captain Lee Cattermole incurred a three-match ban following his red card in midweek and is unavailable. David Vaughan and David Meyler could compete to replace him in his holding role.
Seb Larsson (hamstring) is set to recover to start on the right of midfield, but is also another option in the middle of the park, should he make space for winger Adam Johnson (thigh) who faces a late fitness test after his return from injury.
Striker Fraizer Campbell (foot) is unlikely to be available after picking up an injury last weekend.
Wigan could be without Antolin Alcaraz (groin) who is still doubtful, meaning Maynor Figueroa is set to start on the left of a back three, with Jean Beausejour at left wing back.
Midfielder James McArthur was dropped to the bench last weekend, but will compete with Ben Watson for a start alongside James McCarthy.
Target man Franco Di Santo (calf) is also doubtful. His absence could create an opportunity for striker Mauro Boselli, who scored two goals in midweek, to join Shaun Maloney and Arouna Kone in an attacking three, with playmaker Jordi Gomez another option.
|DID YOU KNOW?|
- Sunderland have won none of their last 12 Premier League matches - drawing nine - and are only the third team ever to draw their opening four Premier League matches. No team has ever drawn their opening five games.
- Martin O’Neill’s side have scored four Premier League goals from just six shots on target this season, with striker Steven Fletcher (pictured, right) netting all of them with just four attempts on target.
- The Black Cats are yet to go behind this season, having scored all four of their goals in the first half of games. They have, however, gone on to drop two points in each of their last three league matches after taking the lead.
- The Mackems are the only team in the top flight without a single headed attempt at goal this season.
- Wigan have just four points so far, their lowest haul after five matches in any of their eight Premier League seasons, joint-equal with 2010-11.
- Robert Martinez’s side have drawn just one away game in 2012 in the Premier League, having won five and lost five.
- Franco Di Santo has scored a 90th-minute goal in each of his last two visits to the Stadium of Light, netting a late winning goal last season in his side’s 2-1 win last November, although the second match between the two finished in a 4-1 win for Sunderland at Wigan's home DW Stadium.
- Sunderland’s Lee Cattermole and Titus Bramble were both signed from Wigan, following their former manager Steve Bruce who took charge at the Wearside club in 2009. Cattermole joined the same summer for £6 million, while Bramble joined a year later in 2010.
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Top 3 Predictions
Sunderland 2-0 Wigan Athletic
- 16.33 %
Sunderland 2-1 Wigan Athletic
- 14.29 %
Sunderland 1-0 Wigan Athletic
- 10.2 %
|Premier League (EPL)||19 Jan 2013||Wigan Athletic 2 - Sunderland 3|
|Premier League (EPL)||29 Sep 2012||Sunderland 1 - Wigan Athletic 0|
|Premier League (EPL)||3 Jan 2012||Wigan Athletic 1 - Sunderland 4|
|Premier League (EPL)||26 Nov 2011||Sunderland 1 - Wigan Athletic 2|
|Premier League (EPL)||23 Apr 2011||Sunderland 4 - Wigan Athletic 2|
|19 May 2013||Tottenham 1 - Sunderland 0||EPL|
|12 May 2013||Sunderland 1 - Southampton 1||EPL|
|6 May 2013||Sunderland 1 - Stoke City 1||EPL|
|29 Apr 2013||Aston Villa 6 - Sunderland 1||EPL|
|20 Apr 2013||Sunderland 1 - Everton 0||EPL|
|26||Ali Al Habsi||Goalkeeper|
|9||Franco Di Santo||Striker|
Martin O’Neill’s side have been heavily reliant on his finishing skill to convert the few chances that come his way, and in a lone striking role his aerial ability and pace will also be crucial, as he looks to hold the ball up and provide an outlet for teammates to help retain possession.
This week, however, the 27-year-old reminded fans of his finishing ability with two well-taken goals in a 4-1 win over West Ham, and with Franco Di Santo recovering from injury the goalscorer has a valuable opportunity to make his case for a place in the team.
Roberto Martinez’s side, in contrast, approach the match after a good mid-week win in the League Cup followed consecutive defeats, and could therefore hold Sunderland to another draw.