Can Ji spark euphoric scenes of celebration again later tonight? (Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)
Martin O'Neill will presumably have had to peel his side off the dressing room ceiling on Sunday afternoon following a dramatic win over Manchester City courtesy of Jo Dong-Won's late goal. Confidence will be sky high, which will be key going in to tonight's game against Roberto Martinez's men who have also enjoyed an upturn in fortunes as of late, no longer looking like the doomed band of men they did a few weeks back.
Prepare yourself for team news, predicted line-ups, a classic encounter (if they are any left to choose from), some betting advice and some topical music for the journey.
Sunderland Team News:
With barely forty-eight hours passed since THAT victory on New Years Day there will barely have been time for a breather never mind anyone from the treatment room, which must be bursting at the seams, declaring themselves fit. That said O'Neill will have been delighted by the way his side performed on Sunday, especially a returning masked Simon Mignolet and a makeshift defence, which was further rocked when Wes Brown hobbled off with a groin injury, yet his replacement Matthew Kilgallon put in an impressive performance coming into the fray from the bench. It is unlikely that Brown will have recovered in time for tonight, so I'd expect the same defensive five that ended the weekend's game to start tonight.
Moving into the midfield you would expect O'Neill to keep things as they were with the only possible doubt being the sexy Swede who ran himself into the ground on Sunday despite suffering from illness, a fantastic effort from the lad. One man who is certain to start is Lee Cattermole, arguably one of the most improved players in the squad since O'Neill's arrival, all the desire and battling qualities we expect but seemingly, touch wood, without the reckless side to his game which has dogged his career.
One area of the field where we are more likely to see changes if anywhere would be the forward line. Sessegnon was his usual lively self on Sunday and is nailed on to start, however his strike partner is a position that is definitely up for grabs. Bendtner didn't have the greatest of afternoons and following Ji Dong-Won's successful showing O'Neill may be tempted to reward the young Korean with a place in the starting eleven tonight. Decisions, decisions.
Wigan Team News:
Many have attributed Wigan's revival of sorts to a settled team selection from Roberto Martinez and following his sides' determined draw at Stoke the Spaniard is unlikely to start shaking things up now.
That said he will be without his captain as defender Gary Caldwell serves a one-match ban following his red card at the weekend. Emmerson Boyce is on the mend following a hamstring injury although tonight's game will likely come to soon for the central defender. Steve Gohouri therefore is expected to replace the Lactic's skipper, partnering Antolin Alcaraz in the heart of their back four.
SAFC: Mignolet, Gardner, O'Shea, Kilgallon, Colback, Larsson, Cattermole, Vaughan, McClean, Sessegnon, Bendtner
WAFC: Al-Habsi, Stam, Alcaraz, Gohouri, Figueroa, Jones, Diame, McCarthy, Moses, Gomez, Rodallega
We're really clutching at straws now for "classic" clashes between the lads and Wigan, slim pickings at best and the more memorable fixtures have already featured! Therefore I'm going to take the easy way out here, cast your mind all the way back to 2011 and a must-win game at the Stadium of Light for Steve Bruce... As Jordi Gomez rolled home a late winner to make it 1-2 the home fans lost patience with their manager and well documented chants were thrown in his direction. Crass they may well have been but few could argue that Bruce's sacking wasn't warranted following the strides the club have already made with an injury-ravaged side under Martin O'Neill. The contrast between Bruce's eleven that lost that afternoon in November and the O'Neill eleven that will run out tonight is, quite frankly, staggering,
Get Rich Quick:
Michael Graham did us all proud here at RR Towers by proving all the nay-sayers, myself included, wrong by predicting a Sunderland win over the odds on favourites with the bookies, Manchester City, last time round. Can we make it two in a row?
The stats do not make for good reading going into tonight's game. Wigan have only lost one of their last seven games against Sunderland and the Wearsiders have never won a top-flight fixture away to the Lactics. However Roberto Martinez's side have won just one of the nine games at the DW Stadium this term and SAFC have now won three games out of five since O'Neill's arrival.
I'm going to back the lads to gain their first back-to-back set of victories in the Premier League since May of 2010 when we beat Bolton and West Ham and can see SAFC running out 2-1 winners in a tight game.
- Sunderland to win is available at around 7/4.
- Sunderland to win 2-1 is available at around 9/1
Song For Whoever
I'm sure I'm not the only one that hasn't stopped smiling since the fulltime whistle on Sunday. Even with so many injuries O'Neill just seems to have the answer at the moment. The faith and belief in the fella from the Sunderland following is mind blowing. Right now, everything, its all good...
As mentioned in the betting part of the preview I really think we can finally put together back-to-back wins tonight and can see O'Neill's ragtag makeshift eleven running out 2-1 winnners.
Ha'way the lads!