Sunderland V Wigan: Bent Out Of Shape
To think Steve Bruce left Wigan for a 'bigger' club come last Summer. He's done so well for Sunderland, he's steered them toward the relegation zone and possible relegation. 4 points from the last 30 is relegation material. Wigan have done better than that so you can argue that Sunderland are on a slippery slope. I don't believe either team will go down but Bruce must be absolutely gutted at the prospect of how his carefully constituted Sunderland team are going down the pan - not even Darren Bent can help them at the moment and he was to deliver much promise on Wearside.
Bruce left Wigan last season, but the reasons for his departure remain shrouded in mystery though there are a few reasonable scenarios as to why, but there might have been more going on behind the scenes than one would realise. That meant Bruce leaping ship from practically his best club he's managed and succeeded with to a poisoned chalice in Sunderland. In truth, Sunderland have not fared well in the Premier League in the seasons they've been in it. Their managers haven't inspired. Roy Keane got off to a flier but quickly dithered under the intensity of the league and Ricky S'Bragia fared less well.
I think Sunderland, unless they improve their form, could do down, but I don't think they will, but unless their form changes, what a terrible few months could be left for the old Wigan boss and I'm sure that Sunderland's relegation would bring a wry smile out of some Wigan fans and the Barcodes would love it. It would be just desserts for them if they got promoted and Sunderland got relegated. It would be a revenge for last year's taunting from the Sunderland fans when Newcastle went down - admittedly a massive shock to the system.
The crucial fact that may act in the favour of Wigan Athletic is that Sunderland have not been in good form and 4 points from 30 is a very telling story. Where did their season go wrong? Perhaps their own confidence got the better of them or their dreadful away form begun to impact on the way they played at home - like Wigan, their squad is littered with quality, but to emulate that on the pitch, much like the Latics, seems to be a problem, but the Latics have improved of late with their acquisitions in the window and can count themselves unfortunate not to have gotten anything from their last few games. The nightmare at the DW Stadium aside when Notts County picked up a famous win, Wigan can continue their valiant recent efforts on Wearside.
Victor Moses might make his debut and what a debut it would be if he could get the winner and pile more misery on Steve Bruce. Perhaps N'Zogbia might get another wonder goal which would bring a smile to the barcodes. That and their potential fall from grace, too. What a double whammy that would be for Steve Bruce but double delight for the barcodes.
I don't think this game is as serious for Wigan as it is for Sunderland - it would be a benefit to get at least a draw from today's game at Wearside, but this game, despite what people or pundits alike may think, is not essential in getting the Latics to survive.
Nothing like a good challenge and with two teams on a poor run of form going up against each other with a massive element at stake for Steve Bruce, I think we'll see two very tense teams at the Stadium but I, like my esteemed colleague Worbo, believe it will be a happy Latics afternoon. However, I don't see a win for the boys in blue and white. Instead, I see a fairly low scoring affair and more misery for our old boss, Steve Bruce. If Sunderland don't win today, the pressure is on and Niall Quinn's so called big name manager signing may well backfire on him. I see Wigan claiming a valuable point today.
Sunderland 1 Wigan 1
ROB'S FINAL THOUGHT
Mark Lawrenson must loathe the Latics because every time I read his prediction, he always has something against us because he predicts we'll lose, but his predictions are hardly ever reliable which could be a major factor in the Sunderland game today.
Not many tip Wigan to achieve much at the Stadium Of Light.... but this is the Latics! Anything and everything will happen and to write a team off based on what has happened previously may seem like sense to some, but Wigan are a very good side who have been unlucky of late and I think their flair and desire will see them safe.