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Sunderland v Charlton Athletic - Sky Bet League One

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Match Preview: Sunderland open the 2021/22 season at home to Wigan Athletic!

It’s finally here and Sunderland kick-off the new season at home to Wigan Athletic. Here’s everything you need to know ahead of the game!

Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

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Saturday 7th August 2021

Sunderland v Wigan Athletic

Sky Bet League One

Stadium of Light

Kick-Off: 15:00


Tickets & Match Coverage

Tickets: Tickets are now available online via SAFC here.

TV/Stream: Full live match coverage available via www.safc.com to residents outside the UK and Ireland, Channel Islands and Isle of Man only. Further information can be found here.

Radio: Full live match commentary available via BBC Radio Newcastle (not online)

Don’t forget to follow the blow-by-blow account of the game on the Roker Report Twitter feed (@RokerReport) and check out the player ratings after the full-time whistle at www.RokerReport.com!


The build-up...

It’s finally here, the League One season is upon us and if that isn’t enough, this will be the first competitive fixture at the Stadium of Light without any sort of restrictions placed on fans’ attendance since we took on Gillingham on the 7th March 2020.

Today we welcome Wigan Athletic, who were the opponents for Lee Johnson’s first fixture as manager of Sunderland which ended in a defeat by the only goal of the game only hours after taking the job.

Much has changed at the club – new owners, new personnel and a new outlook. But it’s been relatively quiet on the transfer front and the squad is heading into the season as an unfinished entity. However, the signs from the three signings made so far (at the time of writing) are that they are looking for quality to slot straight into Johnson’s first XI which bodes well for what is just over three weeks remaining of the window.

League One is a marathon, not a sprint - but for all involved, it would be great to get off to a flying start against Wigan this afternoon.

Harrogate v Sunderland - Pre-Season Friendly
Lee Johnson
Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Our visitors Wigan Athletic should be extremely grateful to the Lads this afternoon.

Although the Latics assured their safety with a game to spare, they eventually only stayed up by a solitary point, and of their 48 points acquired last time out 6 of them were against Sunderland. This would have seen Leam Richardson’s side finish only above Bristol Rovers in League One. So maybe asking for 3 points today wouldn’t be asking too much?!

This does however highlight the job that Leam Richardson managed to pull off last season after John Sheridan left Wigan rooted to the bottom of the table to take over at Swindon Town in November. This was all in the midst of a takeover that was on the brink, using mainly academy graduates in the first XI to do a job.

They did manage to survive and since the owners finally arrived in the form of a consortium led by a Bahrain businessman in March, Richardson has been able to strengthen over the summer and early predictions suggest Wigan could be in the mix for promotion come May.

Hull City v Wigan Athletic - Sky Bet League One - KCOM Stadium
Wigan Athletic manager Leam Richardson
Photo by Richard Sellers/PA Images via Getty Images

One to watch...

Simon Humphrys

Humphrys made his debut for Fulham as a 19-year-old in 2016 and eventually joined Southend United for a year before joining Rochdale ahead of last season.

The 23-year-old forward signed for Wigan at the beginning of July for an undisclosed fee and has impressed during pre-season for the Latics. You can expect to see him floating behind the front man and hovering over any free-kicks we might concede within sight of goal.

Wigan Athletic v Rochdale - Sky Bet League One
Stephen Humphrys in action for Rochdale against Wigan last season
Photo by Lewis Storey/Getty Images

The Betting...

It’s tough when nobody quite knows how teams will settle at the start of a new season but the bookies fancy a home win at 10/11 whilst Wigan are priced at 3/1 and the draw 5/2.

In terms of a final score, however, a 1-1 draw is favourite at 5/1, closely followed by a 1-0 Sunderland victory at 6/1, just ahead of a 2-1 home win at 7/1 and 2-1 at 15/2.

Wigan are 10/1 to win via the only goal of the game and 18/1 to win with a more comprehensive 2-0. The bookies fancy goals in this one though as they have 0-0 at a fairly generous 10/1.


Last Time We Met... at the Stadium of Light

Saturday 5th December 2020

Sky Bet League One

Sunderland 0-1 Wigan Athletic

(Joseph 16’)

Sunderland: Burge, McLaughlin, Wright, Flanagan, Hume (McFadzean), Leadbitter, Power (Embleton), Scowen, Maguire, McGeady (Diamond), Grigg (Graham) Substitutes not used: Matthews, Sanderson

Wigan Athletic: Jones, James, Pearce, Aasgaard, Tilt, Long, Naismith (Crankshaw), Evans, Joseph, Perry (Merrie), Gardner (Robinson) Substitutes not used: Evans, Obi, Smith, Jolley

Sunderland v Wigan Athletic - Sky Bet League One
Lee Johnson on the touchline during his first game in charge when the sides met at the Stadium of Light in December 2020
Photo by Ian Horrocks/Getty Images

Played for Both

Titus Bramble

Bramble burst onto the scene at Ipswich Town and after just 62 appearances signed for Bobby Robson’s Newcastle United for £6 million in 2002. After five years at St James’ Park, the central defender moved to the DW Stadium on a free transfer.

By 2010, Steve Bruce had moved from Wigan to Sunderland and he took Bramble with him on another free transfer. He left Sunderland to retire in 2013 at 32-years-old after making 51 appearances for the club.

Sunderland v Manchester United - Premier League
Titus Bramble
Photo by John Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images

Kevin Kilbane

Peter Reid signed Kilbane in 1999 after he broke through at Preston North End and spent two years at West Bromwich Albion for £2.5 million.

He went on to make 124 appearances in three-and-a-half years at the Stadium of Light, where despite always appearing to give 100%, he found it tough to show consistency. He signed for David Moyes at Everton, who had also managed him at Preston, and his form picked up.

After making over 100 appearances in three years at Goodison, he signed for Wigan for around £2 million, where he made 84 appearances before moving to Hull City in 2009.

Kevin Kilbane of Sunderland
Kevin Kilbane
Photo by Tom Shaw/Getty Images

FEATURES!

On This Day (23 Sep 2003): Grant Leadbitter makes his Sunderland debut in cup defeat

FAN LETTERS!

Fan Letters: “Sunderland’s future is looking exciting”

OPINION!

Cup progress secured - now it’s back to league business against Bolton & Cheltenham!