Sunderland-Wigan Athletic Preview
LONDON (SE) - Wigan go into Saturday's match against Sunderland at the DW Stadium seeking revenge for a narrow 1-0 defeat earlier in the season.
The Black Cats secured their first league win in late September as Steven Fletcher scored the winner only minutes after Wigan midfielder Jordi Gomez was controversially sent off.
James McCarthy, Wigan's Scottish-born Irish international midfielder, is in line to make his 100th Premier League appearance on Saturday and is after some payback for that defeat.
"At the Stadium of Light earlier in the season I thought we did everything we needed to apart from scoring," he told the club website. "We were really unlucky up there with the sending off which changed the momentum of the game and we'll be looking to put that right on Saturday.
"Sunderland are a good side and they've been gaining a bit of momentum recently so it is going to be tough for us. We need to kick on from the positive result against Fulham last weekend but all of us have to be more clinical in front of goal to start turning single points into three points."
While Wigan spent their midweek eliminating Bournemouth in an FA Cup replay, Sunderland suffered a disappointing home loss to Bolton in their replayed Cup tie. Defender Phil Bardsley believes it is important the Black Cats return to winning ways quickly.
"Wigan are a good team and Roberto Martinez has got them playing a nice style of football," he told the club website. "We have to go there and give a good account of ourselves. Bolton apart, we've been playing well of late so hopefully we can go there and get a decent result.
"We want to put Tuesday's defeat behind us quickly. We're disappointed to be out of the cup but we have to pick ourselves up for a massive game this weekend."
After telling out-of-favour forward Louis Saha he is free to leave, Sunderland are in the market for a new striker and have made an official bid for Swansea City marksman Danny Graham. Manager Martin O'Neill has also strengthened the defence, securing Kader Magane on loan from Al Hilal until the end of the season.
Fletcher missed the midweek cup defeat through illness. If he does not return to full fitness ahead of the game it will be a massive blow to the Black Cats. Fletcher has scored in three straight appearances against Wigan and Sunderland hasn't lost in any of the seven matches in which he has scored (4-3-0) this season.
Coming into the game on the back of the Cup victory, Wigan will be further bolstered with the news that midfielder Shaun Maloney has agreed a new two and a half year deal to stay at the club until 2015.
"Shaun is one of the most technically gifted British players that you will find, but on top of his style and footballing flair his work-rate and purpose in his performances make him a key member of our future at Wigan Athletic," Latics boss Martinez told the club website.
Wigan have won only once in their last nine Premier League matches, a 3-0 victory at Aston Villa in late December, and have the worst home defense in the division, allowing 22 goals in their 11 home contests.
Curiously Wigan have conceded 14 penalties over the last two seasons, more than any other PL team in that time, while Sunderland is one of four teams yet to win a penalty this season.
No team has been fouled more often than Sunderland (286) this season.
The all-time league series between the sides is tied (6-7-6) but Wigan has won only three of their nine home games against Saturday's visitors.