James McClean

Wigan v Sunderland preview

by Stuart Vose

We look ahead to this weekend's action.

Sunderland will make their ninth visit to the DW Stadium this weekend looking for a third away league win of the season.

The Black Cats have taken 10 points away from home so far this season and head south looking to replicate 2011-12’s three-point haul.

Martin O’Neill’s side won 4-1 at the DW Stadium last season and also saw off the Latics earlier in the current campaign, winning 1-0 thanks to a Steven Fletcher goal.

Roberto Martinez’s side sit outside the relegation zone on goal difference, with 19 points from 22 games.

The Latics are six points and three places behind Sunderland, who moved up to 14th in the division following last weekend’s 3-0 win over West Ham.

Wigan have lost a league-high 13 Barclays Premier League games this season and have conceded 22 goals in their own turf.

But Martinez’s men are masters of the great escape having mounted some memorable fightbacks in the second half of seasons to maintain top-flight status in the past.

Martin O’Neill will be at pains to underline Wigan’s unpredictable nature, especially at home where they have shocked some of the game’s biggest names in recent campaigns.

Latics boss Martinez was disappointed with a return of four points from six December games, but the Spaniard saw his side claim a creditable draw at Fulham in their last league outing before dispatching Npower League One side Bournemouth in an FA Cup with Budweiser replay on the south coast.

Mauro Boselli scored the only goal of the game to tee up a fourth-round meeting with non-league Macclesfield.

Sunderland, who have lost just one of their last four games at the DW Stadium, will be backed by a sell-out away following as supporters quickly snapped up the club’s allocation of more than 4,800 tickets.

O’Neill’s squad will be bolstered by the return of new signing Alfred N’Diaye, who was ineligible for the midweek cup defeat to Bolton.

Meanwhile fellow new boy Kader Mangane was also forced to sit out in midweek but will be hoping to be included in the travelling party.

Boss O'Neill is hopeful that top scorer Steven Fletcher will return - the Scot missed the defeat to Bolton through illness but has returned to training.

John O'Shea is also back in action, but Danny Rose and Carlos Cuellar remain sidelined.

Former Wigan man Lee Cattermole will miss out after suffering another knee injury in training in the build-up to the game.

Saturday’s game is just the 20th between Sunderland and Wigan, with Athletic having won on seven occasions to Sunderland’s six. A further seven games have ended in draws.

Opta Facts

After winning just one of the first nine Premier League meetings with Wigan (W1 D3 L5), Sunderland have won three of the last four (W3 L1).

Steven Fletcher has scored four goals in six Premier League appearances against Wigan; more than against any other opponent.

Wigan have won one of their last nine Premier League games (W1 D2 L6).

Sunderland have won three and lost just one of their six Premier League games this season against teams currently in the bottom six of the table.

Wigan have conceded a joint-high six penalties in the Premier League this season (6).

A quarter of Sunderland’s goals have been scored from corners this season, the highest proportion in the top flight (6/24).