Preview: Can The Black Cats Come Out On Top At The DW?

Richard Heathcote

Bolton aside, can Sunderland keep up a recent run of good form as they travel to take on Wigan at the DW Stadium? Have a look at our preview and decide for yourself...

Sunderland Team News

New signings Alfred N'Diaye and Kader Mangane are in the squad and could be thrown straight into the team following the Bolton debacle on Tuesday night. Elmo should also be available for selection after being recalled from his loan spell with Steve Bruce at Hull.

While Danny Rose will probably still be on the treatment table, Steven Fletcher could return to duty having had to miss the Bolton game through illness, although Lee Cattermole has picked up a knock in training which is likely to rule him out of the game, despite being desperate to return against his former employers. John O'Shea should also return, having missed out on Tuesday, which can only be good news for the Black Cats.

Wigan Team News

Roberto Martinez has also been busy early doors in the transfer market, bringing in two new faces in the forms of Roger Espinoza and Angelo Henriquez, two long-term targets that he will be delighted to add to his squad.

However, it's not all good news for the Lactics, as Ivan Ramis has been ruled out at the back through injury, and will probably be replaced by Ronnie Stam, while Arouna Kone, arguably Wigan's best player this season, will be taking part in the African Cup of Nations.

Predicted Line-ups

Sunderland: Mignolet; Gardner, O'Shea, Bramble, Colback; Johnson, Larsson, N'Diaye, McClean; Sessegnon; Fletcher

Wigan: Al Habsi; Caldwell, Boyce, Stam, Figueroa; McCarthy, Jones, McArthur, Beausejour, Maloney; Di Santo

Key Matchup: Adam Johnson Vs Gary Caldwell

This is dependent on Johnson taking the right-wing position at the DW, and could easily read James McClean instead. However, one variable that isn't going to change is that Gary Caldwell is a weak link in the Wigan ranks. He's taken a lot of stick over the years, from people that have followed his career a lot more closely than I have, and has gained a reputation for less-than-legal tackles in his own penalty box. If Johnson plays to anything near his potential, then he has more than enough quality to cause Caldwell, and Wigan, a world of problems.

Recent Form: WLDDW

Win: Aston Villa 0-3 Wigan (Ramis 3, Boyce 52, Kone 56)

Loss: Wigan 0-4 Manchester United (Hernandez 35, 65, Van Persie 43, 88)

Draw: Wigan 1-1 Bournemouth (Gomez 70; O'Kane 41)

Draw: Fulham 1-1 Wigan (Karagounis 22; Di Santo 71)

Win: Bournemouth 0-1 Wigan (Boselli 18)

Last Time Around: Wigan 1-4 Sunderland/ 03/01/12

There was plenty to cheer for Sunderland's supporters the last time they took a trip to Wigan, which might explain why almost 5,000 of them are making their way down again tomorrow.

Although the home side almost made it to half time with the scores level, Craig Gardner's strike - a worldy of a free kick that was slightly aided by the hurricane-like conditions - and the hosts crumbled under the intense pressure that Sunderland put them under.

Goals from McClean, Sessegnon and Vaughan (another beauty) wrapped up the win, and Hugo Rodellega's strike was mere consolation as the travelling Sunderland support went back to Wearside on top of the world.

The Ref: Anthony Taylor

Mr Taylor takes charge of the Black Cats for the first time this season, and perhaps encouragingly, considering that Lee Cattermole may make a return to the first team, he is pretty lenient with yellow cards. In his 14 games in charge, he's only dished out 25 yellows, making his average cards per game one of the lowest in the league.

What The Managers Said

Martin O'Neill:

We've shown real signs of improvement in recent weeks, culminating in the game against West Ham.

We defended well in that game, were strong and threatening in midfield and dangerous in attack and if we can play like that regularly then we'll be fine.

Roberto Martinez:

They've got a team with very important individuals, with good specific roles.

They're in their best moment of the season. Three wins in their last five is an impressive return.

I do feel that this Sunderland side is not the side we saw performing earlier in the season.

Roker Report Predicts

In recent years, we've fared well against Wigan, and I don't expect this outing to bring that run to an end. No-one at Roker Report will defend the performance that we served up at Bolton, but I fully expect us to roar back into form this weekend, boosted by two new signings, with more apparently on the way.

With Kone missing for Wigan, I'll plump for a 2-0 win for the Black Cats.

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