Sunderland v Wigan Athletic (H) Preview

Well well, it's time to preview this weekend's game against Wigan Athletic, in what cliche-fans would call 'a true six-pointer'. Wigan find themselves in 17th position, just above the drop-zone, whilst we're hellbent on joining them, lying 14th.

Both teams have a lot to prove coming into this game, with both of us putting in decent performances the previous weekend against Blackpool and Birmingham City respectively.

You can't really stress enough, nor in fact is there really any need to state the obvious that we really need to win this weekend. Lets hope Steve Bruce and the boys have got their act together and we turn it on...

SAFC Team News

Having gone 4-4-2 at Birmingham the previous weekend, we are almost certain to see a 4-5-1 formation return this weekend, as Danny Welbeck joins a throng of players in the treatment room.

Another joining Mr Welbeck is Craig Gordon. On Tuesday morning he was 'tipped for a comeback' against Wigan, however by the afternoon he was out injured for 'up to six months'. I've said all I can about injuries, and I'm really starting to bore myself on the subject of why this keeps happening, and who is responsible, so lets just accept it and move on.

This of course means Simon Mignolet, responsible for the first goal at Birmingham, and perhaps should have done better with the second will continue in goal. Nothing against him generally mind, he's a superb young keeper with the world at his feet. Mignolet will be backed up by Trevor Carson, recalled from Brentford following Gordon's injury.

Across the back it would seemingly be a case of 'as you were' too, as the four that played against Birmingham are the only ones fit. That line-up in case you need reminding will be Ahmed Elmohamady at right-back, Phil Bardsley at left-back and Micheal Turner and Nedum Onuoha continuing in the middle.

I expect something resembling a good performance from Turner, who has disappointed since his return (premature or not) from injury.

Into midfield, and while it's a bit of a minefield as to who will start, two players are certain to retain places. Those being the captain, Lee Cattermole and youngster Jack Colback, who performed admirably in his first league start, and did nothing to warrant dropping.

Across the midfield and attack, we'll have to wait and see really. Kieran Richardson was in line to return at St Andrews, but failed a fitness test prior to the game. He's very much on course for this Saturday, and I'd expect him to line-up just in behind Asamoah Gyan in attack. Stephane Sessegnon would possibly be better suited to the role, but he's set to continue on the left hand side, with resurgent Jordan Henderson wide on the right.

Around the squad expect to see appearances on the bench from young strikers Ryan Noble & Craig Lynch, alongside defender Blair Adams.

Bruce's Probable Team:
Mignolet; Elmohamady, Onuoha, Turner, Bardsley; Cattermole, Colback; Henderson, Richardson, Sessegnon; Gyan

My Team:
Mignolet, Elmohamady, Onuoha, Turner, Bardsley; Cattermole, Colback, Henderson, Sessegnon, Malbranque; Gyan

From the Wigan Athletic side...

Wigan will come here in high spirits, as mentioned earlier, and there's a couple of obvious things for us to look out for.

Starting off with Charles N'Zogbia, the man often linked with a move to our club. As we discussed on the Podcast, it depends where he lines up on Saturday. If he's on the left, I'm confident Ahmed Elmohamady will have the pace to keep up with him, but I am concerned as to whether he'll have the strength in the tackle to stop him.

If N'Zogbia lines up on the right, then I'm very confident Phil Bardsley will keep him under wraps, as the Wigan winger will be cutting in, on to Phil Bardsley's favoured right foot.

The other cause for concern is Hugo Rodallega. The Colombian striker is, again as discussed on the podcast, 'one of them strikers' likely to cause us problems. Rodallega is in the mould of Cameron Jerome, and Peter Odemwingie who both recently gave us problems, and his movement could give Micheal Turner a real headache. I pray not.

Where we can get at Wigan, for me, is if Steven Caldwell plays. We've all experienced  his magnificence when in Red & White, and I'm sure he won't have improved significantly since those days. Asamoah Gyan could give him a real problem.

As always too, and I'll repeat it until it actually happens... THE MIDFIELD NEED TO GET FORWARD AND SUPPORT THE ATTACK.

Prediction

I can't see this being one for the neutrals, nor purists. Which suits me fine. Hopefully an early goal will get us on the way, and we will hang on for the victory. A 1-0 win will do me, so long as the performance is assured. Actually you know what? I'll just be happy with the points.

Come on everyone, get behind the lads and lets finish the season with some sort of flourish.

Ha'way the lads!! KTF.

Don't forget, for more essential match build-up and general SAFC chat, you can't go wrong with The Roker Report Podcast! Available on iTunes NOW, from THIS LINK

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