Wigan Athletic vs. Sunderland  2 - 3

Article

O´Neill hails Fletcher influence

20 January 2013 03:52

Sunderland boss Martin O'Neill hailed Steven Fletcher after the striker led his side to a 3-2 win over Wigan at DW Stadium on Saturday.

Fletcher scored a brace and looked dangerous from beginning to end to ensure his side's recent good form continues, with the Black Cats now winning five of their past eight games.

O'Neill wasn't afraid to heap praise on his striker, acknowledging that the 25-year-old was the difference between the two sides.

"Fletcher was fantastic," O'Neill said after the game.

"It was not just his goals but also his whole centre forward play. We took great heart from his performance."

The Black Cats were forced to weather a Wigan storm in the final stages after Angelo Henriquez pulled a goal back with 11 minutes to go and O'Neill was thrilled with his side's ability to hold out away from home.

"We've had to show a lot of fight and determination," said O'Neill.

"Wigan threw a lot at us and were never out of it.

"It was all hands to the pump at the end and I am delighted with the result."

The loss sees Wigan once again slip into the bottom three after only last week clawing their way out of the relegation zone and manager Roberto Martinez insists his side are not resting on their laurels after eight straight years in the top flight.

"We never take anything for granted," Martinez said.

"If we had done that we would never have had eight seasons at this level.

"Today we weren't good enough defensively for 30 minutes. We need to rectify that," he said.

Article

Premier League: Wigan 2 Sunderland 3

19 January 2013 18:22

Steven Fletcher scored twice in a thrilling 3-2 win over Wigan Athletic to ease Sunderland's relegation worries on Saturday.

The hosts got off to the perfect start after David Vaughan put the ball into his own net early on, but Sunderland responded through Craig Gardner's penalty and a Steven Fletcher double put them 3-1 up before half time.

Wigan made a concerted effort to come back in the second half, but despite substitute Angelo Henriquez's debut goal, Fletcher's 10th of the season – and sixth in seven against the Latics – was enough to hand Sunderland their fifth win in eight league games.

Roberto Martinez refrained from throwing new signings Joel Robles, Henriquez and Roger Espinoza straight into Wigan's starting line-up, instead making just two changes from the side that earned a point at Fulham last weekend. Ronnie Stam replaced the injured Ivan Ramis, while Jordi Gomez came in for David Jones.

The visitors, meanwhile, welcomed defender John O'Shea back from a long injury lay-off at the expense of Matthew Kilgallon, while new signing Alfred N'Diaye replaced James McClean to make his full league debut and Steven Fletcher returned to relegate youngster Connor Wickham to the bench.

A tough task loomed for the home side. The Latics had won just once in nine league games and had lost their last four home games against Sunderland, including a 4-1 defeat last season.

But just four minutes in, the hosts took a torch to the formbooks and capitalised on sloppy defending to carve an early lead.

Great work from Gomes and Jean Beausejour down the left ended with Ronnie Stam receiving the ball in the box and turning to shoot. The defender fluffed his finish but a Vaughan touch sent the ball past Simon Mignolet.

Sunderland's response, however, was swift. N'Diaye and O'Shea come close minutes later, before James McCarthy blocked Sebastian Larsson's free-kick inside the box with his hand, conceding a 15th-minute penalty.

It was Sunderland's first spot kick in 34 games but Gardner made it look easy, sending Ali Al-Habsi the wrong way after coolly slotting the ball into the bottom left corner.

And just five minutes later, Fletcher put Sunderland ahead after meeting an N'Diaye cross to first have his header saved and then rifle an acrobatic left-foot volley into the top corner on the rebound.

The goal turned the game on its head. And more worryingly for Wigan, it didn't stop there.

Five minutes before half-time, a long ball into the box found Adam Johnson, who played a simple pass to Fletcher and the Scotland striker once again used his left foot to inflict hurt, sending a powerful, pinpoint finish into the top corner from the edge of the box.

The home side came out firing after the break, with Shaun Maloney being denied by several fantastic Mignolet saves, while Fletcher deflected the ball onto his own crossbar on 68 minutes.

And Henriquez got the hosts back into the game with 10 minutes to go, heading in a Maloney cross to score on his debut.

But Wigan's second half pressure ultimately came to nothing and Fletcher and co. left the DW Stadium with three valuable points.

Article

Cattermole doubtful for Wigan clash

18 January 2013 18:37

Martin O'Neill says midfielder Lee Cattermole has suffered an injury setback and is doubtful for Saturday's match at Wigan.

The 24-year-old has been out with a knee injury since November, but after good progress he made his comeback on Tuesday against Bolton in the FA Cup third round replay that the Black Cats ultimately lost 2-0.

However, on Thursday, the former England under-21 international received a fresh knock in training which looks set to rule him out of Saturday’s game against his former club Wigan.

O'Neill explained to reporters: "We have a number of injury problems ahead of the Wigan game, and I don't want to run through them.

"But Lee Cattermole had had a bit of a setback.

"He trained for the game yesterday – we were trying to get a bit more fitness into him and the new lads who have arrived – and he had a bit of a setback.

"We are hoping it's not as bad as before, but I would say he would be doubtful for tomorrow."

Article

Premier League preview: Wigan v Sunderland

16 January 2013 19:43

Wigan face a defensive crisis ahead of Saturday's home clash with Sunderland in the Premier League.

The Latics were dealt a huge blow with Ivan Ramis ruled out for the rest of the season after it was confirmed he ruptured his cruciate ligament in Saturday's 1-1 draw with Fulham.

Manager Roberto Martinez feared for the worst immediately after the game but will not be comforted by the fact Antolin Alcaraz is still yet to return after suffering a groin injury in August, while Adrian Lopez is also out.

Alcaraz would be the most likely candidate to step in but 20-year-old Roman Golobart or Emmerson Boyce may have to deputise with reinforcements not yet forthcoming in the January transfer window.

Martinez admitted the defence was a major concern following the former Real Mallorca star's mishap.

"Nothing can disguise the fact this is a massive blow because Ivan is a key member of the group but we are relieved that the injury is not a severe as we feared it could have been," Martinez said.

Wigan are clear in the safety zone only on goal difference while Sunderland have pulled clear of the mire with four wins in their past eight league games.

Captain Lee Cattermole's return from injury was the only positive though in the Black Cats' mid-week FA Cup third-round replay loss to Bolton.

The midfield enforcer is vitally important to manager Martin O'Neill's system of play and he played a quarter-of-an-hour in an otherwise lacklustre 2-0 defeat to their Championship opponents.

His return ahead of schedule from a knee injury sustained in November was a major plus while leading scorer Steven Fletcher was due to start before falling ill shortly before the Bolton game.

Both Cattermole and Fletcher should be fit to face Wigan while winger Ahmed Elmohamady is also available again after O'Neill recalled him from his season-long loan at Hull.

"I actually thought about starting the game with Lee but I wasn't sure how long he would last physically," O'Neill said.

"To have him back though is good and I'm hoping he can be fit for us now between now and the end of the season.

"Steven Fletcher was feeling a bit ill and we sent him home and by 4.30pm he was so unwell he couldn't make it.

"I'm just hoping he'll be all right for Saturday."

Premier League table

# Team MP D P
1 38 +43 89
2 38 +32 78
3 38 +36 75
4 38 +35 73
5 38 +20 72
6 38 +15 63
7 38 +28 61
8 38 -4 49
9 38 -4 46
10 38 -8 46
11 38 -17 44
12 38 -10 43
13 38 -11 42
14 38 -11 41
15 38 -22 41
16 38 -23 41
17 38 -13 39
18 38 -26 36
19 38 -30 28
20 38 -30 25