Roberto Martinez is hoping Latics can put behind them the painful recent memories of encounters against Sunderland with a positive result over the Black Cats this weekend.
Martin O’Neill’s side arrive at the DW Stadium on Saturday, where they claimed a 4-1 victory last season in a game Latics looked comfortable in for large periods, before taking three more points in the last meeting at the Stadium of Light this season when Jordi Gomez’s harsh red card gave Latics too big a mountain to climb.
Martinez is hoping that luck will be on his team’s side this time round however, saying:
“Earlier this season at the Stadium of Light we were well in control and creating a couple of good chances to score before the red card to Jordi Gomez after the break served as a real turning point and the points slipped away from us.
“Playing them around this time last year at the DW Stadium brought about a unique result because for the opening twenty minutes or so we performed really well and looked dangerous in our attacking play, hitting the woodwork twice in that time.
“We then went into the break on the back of Craig Gardner’s wonder strike and suffered another difficult defeat.
“Hopefully we can change things around this time round in a massive game for us. When you enter the final eight home games in the season each and every match becomes a huge event and I’m looking forward to our fans creating a big atmosphere on Saturday and us all focusing on the remaining points that are available this season.”
With three wins in their last five Barclays Premier League matches, Sunderland currently occupy 14th place in the table, six points clear of Wigan Athletic and Martinez is under no illusion as to the challenge that awaits his team following the 1-1 draw at Fulham last time out:
“In terms of the points they’ve (Sunderland) collected lately they’re in the best moment of their season; three wins in the last five games is a good achievement from a team that we know carries real individual threats.
“Players such as Adam Johnson, Sebastian Larsson, Stephane Sessegnon and James McClean all have a keen eye for a killer ball for someone like Steven Fletcher who has the goalscoring touch.
“They all work hard for one another to try and keep a clean sheet and have grown into a very difficult team to beat home or away with big expectations at the start of the season, and rightly so.
“Since then it’s been frustrating for them, just as it has been for us in the previous two encounters.”
The gaffer also gave the latest on his squad’s injury news, saying:
“Apart from the injury picked up by Ivan Ramis at Fulham we have no new worries so those who were ready for that game will be ready for this weekend.
“In every game we go into it’s important that we don’t lose that competitive edge or the way we want to play our football, so time after time players need to take the opportunities handed to them which was made Tuesday night’s game at Bournemouth very pleasing.”