Quick Kicks: Thoughts and Reaction From Wigan Athletic 2-3 Sunderland

Chris Brunskill

Another week, another Premier League win. We could get used to this. Here is what we made of the victory at the DW Stadium.

Another week, another Premier League win. We could get used to this. Here is what we made of the victory at the DW Stadium.

What The Gaffer Said

We have noticed you can generally gauge how happy O'Neill is with a performance by how much he talks about it, so safe to say he was pretty chuffed with this one.

It was a really big win for us.

After going a goal behind early on it was almost as if there was a hangover from Tuesday night, but having said that we responded brilliantly.

We got the penalty, but before that there was decent play.

Alfred had a shot go over the bar and the equaliser looked like it might come.

When we got it, we played some brilliant football and put ourselves 3-1 in front.

I would have preferred to come out in the second half and make the game a little more comfortable but that wasn't the case.

We had problems with Wigan last year and they set up to cause us the same problems.

Wigan were dangerous - [Simon] Mignolet made some great saves when they kept pressing and we were on the back foot, but on the break we looked like we could put the game beyond them.

They showed great heart and determination to get the goal back but fortunately we saw it through.

The support for the football club is fantastic. They've come in their droves to watch us in freezing conditions and they were magnificent.

They took the whole end behind the goal and supported the team right through - it was unbelievably encouraging.

He has every right to be thrilled with it, too. It wasn't always pretty and it got a little more nervy than we'd have liked, but it is a very big result that should allay any fears of getting dragged into the relegation scrap for the time being.

The Bread And Butter

We all enjoy the annual wins over Manchester City, but those aren't the ones upon which a season is built.

In the last 8 games, Sunderland have recorded wins against Reading, Southampton, West Ham, and now Wigan. Whisper it very quietly, but such results tend to be the hallmark of a seasoned and dare I say established Premier League team.

I always remember the relegation season in 1997 when in the closing weeks of the campaign we beat Manchester United and then lost to Southampton. A reversal of those results would have seen us safe, so the significance of results such as this should not be understated.

Are We Allowed To Say This?

This probably won't be a very popular point of view, but I'd have to say that Seb Larsson has now developed into a very good central midfielder.

I know we are not meant to think that, never mind say it, and accepted doctrine amongst the fanbase is that it is a travesty that he is being used ‘out of position' and he'll never be a central midfielder in his wildest dreams, etc etc etc.

But I no longer buy that, though I accept that he struggled there initially, and he may well have the odd stinker in the future too as all players do. He is a solid and good option in there right now, though, especially if the central three is going to be persisted with.

O'Neill Not To Blame For Second Half 'Gamble'

As Wigan threw everything at Sunderland in the second half, there were more than a few grumbles lamenting O'Neill's tactics that 'invited a comeback'.

I must say I think such criticisms are largely unfair. After all, O'Neill's tactics were working. At 3-1 and with the side defending relatively well, Seb Larsson and Stephane Sessegnon both had good chances on the break to wrap it up.

Sometimes, you just have to accept the game will be played on the opposition's terms for a spell and trust your side to defend. That's football.

Alfred The Great

O'Neill handed a first start to Alfred N'Diaye and it would be fair to say that, for the first hour at least, the Frenchman really impressed.

He created one, almost scored one, and gave a hugely encouraging account of himself in defensive positions when the need was there to defend and compete. He tired quite badly, but that shouldn't detract from his performance.

Not only was his own performance noteworthy, however, his presence also proved a catalyst for improvement from others. With the insurance of his mobility and sheer athleticism in behind them, the rest of the midfield were able to get up closer to Steven Fletcher, with Adam Johnson and Stephane Sessegnon especially reveling in the freedom.

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