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Jan 17 2013

Match Preview: Wigan Athletic v Sunderland AFC – 19 Jan 2013

Wigan StadiumThe only thing consistent about Sunderland is their inconsistency. On one hand they have won four of their last seven Premier League games, whilst on the other they have been knocked out of both cup competitions this season by Championship sides, despite enjoying home advantage.

I mean its driving me mad! I plan to be kicking around for the next 35 years, but it looks increasingly unlikely that I will see Sunderland win another cup in my lifetime due to their Jekyll & Hyde mentality on the pitch. Sunderland need to start using their heads tactically, which is ironic given the Black Cats have the worst record for scoring headed goals, but the best record for not conceding headed goals. It’s a conundrum that would have anyone scratching their… heads!

I expect Martin O’Neill will make several changes to the side that performed so ineptly against Bolton in midweek. We need to move away from the ‘Sunderland Strollers’ mode if we expect another run-away victory against Wigan Athletic and emulate the stunning 1-4 victory in the corresponding fixture last season. Certainly Seb Larsson will return and another net-busting goal that had international goal scoring legend and MoTD presenter Gary Lineker rushing onto Twitter and excitedly informing his 1.3 million followers about his ‘absolute screamer’ would be very welcome. I assume Gary was talking about the goal and not Mrs Lineker. Wigan old boy, Lee Cattermole may also feature after his midweek 10 minute cameo following his return from injury.

Steven Fletcher is certain to be recalled and the main talking point will be whether the Wearsiders new defensive colossus, Kader Mangane and midfield dynamo, Alfred N’Diaye will start. It is interesting to note that O’Neill has recalled winger Ahmed Elmohamady from Championship side Hull City, despite the bench being his likely destination. However, few would question the wisdom of jettisoning Louis Saha and James McFadden may follow him, unless Frazier Campbell joins Cardiff and no further signings are made.

This is a vital game for the Lactics as they are just above the drop-zone on goal difference and Roberto Martinez will be looking to improve their survival prospects by skinning the Cats. However, Wigan are facing a defensive crisis with Ivan Ramis ruled out for the rest of the season after rupturing his cruciate ligament, Antolin Alcaraz is still to return after suffering a groin injury, whilst Adrian Lopez is also out. Perhaps Sunderland should cash in and offer to sell them Titus Bramble!

Wigan Athletic have successfully progressed to the FA Cup 4th round, with a good chance of advancing further with only non-league Macclesfield standing in their way. However, they are consistently poor with only one win in their last nine league games and a woeful home record of only two wins in eleven attempts. Despite having nine strikers on their books, Arouna Kone remains their top scorer with six goals, alongside midfielder Jordi Gomez.

As you can see it’s a game that could go either way and neither set of fans can be brimming with confidence regarding the final outcome. Therefore my prediction is that someone will lose – hopefully Wigan. However, don’t rule out a draw.

‘Tell us what you think and if you correctly predict the result and you can WIN a day-of-promotion courtesy of The North East HUB.’