Wigan V Sunderland: Welcome Back, Steve!
This is really going to be an interesting spectacle today but I am so nervous about this game at the same time. The Latics conceded nine goals last weekend which left a very bitter taste in the mouth of Latics fans. It might have been a deserved result for Tottenham Hotspur, but it was still a cruel result but in time, one which will gradually be erased from the memory and more importantly, the good times will come again, but I am not quite so sure they're going to come today.
Steve Bruce returns to Sunderland for the first time since his departure which brought a mixed feeling from the Latics faithful yet if truth be told, its not exactly one hundred percent clear if there was more to his departure than met the eye, especially key player sales right under his nose. I for one would be hard pressed not to be annoyed if someone had done that to me if I were a manager so his departure to Sunderland isn't totally his fault.
Perhaps the biggest surprise of the week was Dave Whelan's comments about Bruce and his dodgy signings - I think he's actually a hypoctire because if he wanted some 'quality' signings, he should've forked into his own pocket and put some more money onto the table for Steve but be that as it may, the harsh reality is Latics will forever struggle to attract a certain player unless something dramatic happens to Wigan in the next few years if they manage to retain their premier league status for that long.
I am worried about this game - Darren Bent has made a surprise recovery and he's a quality player. Frazier Campbell will cause the Latics all sorts of problems with his pace and with those two up front, our defence will have to be at its strongest but here's an unwelcome stat - Darren Bent has scored in each game he has faced Wigan under a new club. With Charlton, Tottenham and maybe today, Sunderland.
However, Wigan have a massive point to prove to the world after their humiliating defeat at Spurs. They want to right their wrongs and put in a performance which will endear them to the fans once more but their gesture would've gone some way to repay the faith the fans show in the team. As bad as last weekend was, now is the time to encourage fans and they need to put in a scintilating display against Sunderland today. I do believe however it won't be an easy game today as its a new manager against an old manager and Roberto Martinez and Steve Bruce have never been head to head before so it'll be an interesting battle.
WIGAN: KEY PLAYER: HUGO RODALLEGA
Revenge is a dish best served by Hugo Rodallega - if he's going to score, there will be no better time than today to do that. He has got bags of pace and skill and will be eager to erase last week's bad memories. On his day, he is a menace and I suspect he'll be giving Sunderland a rough ride at the back.
SUNDERLAND: KEY PLAYER: DARREN BENT
This guy always scores against us for a new club and whose to bet against him not doing that today? Our defence need to be at their very best game to stop Darren Bent as he'll want to garner an away victory to give Sunderland a push for Europe.
Seems nobody has much faith in the Latics today - after last week's post halloween party, many are predicting a win for Sunderland.
I am worried about this game and I know my nerves will be torn to shreds come the end of an important afternoon.
Martinez faces a tough task today and what will encourage him is Sunderland have just one victory to their name against Wigan and that should inspire fans but that is not to be taken for granted. That one victory was in the last seven games they faced each other.
This is so tough to predict because the Black Cats under Steve Bruce have been mightily impressive and they must've really enjoyed the result over Arsenal.
Wigan's determination versus a rejuvinated Black Cats side looking for an extra push towards Europe? For me, there is one outcome though I don't say it, in all honesty, with the greatest of conviction.
Wigan 1 Sunderland 1
ROB'S FINAL THOUGHT
I hope a lot of the fans from Wigan last weekend weren't too badly affected by that horrible result. Now is the time to get behind the team and encourage them to a win over Sunderland.