Wigan V Sunderland at The DW Stadium : Match Preview

18 January 2013 07:01
Wigan V Sunderland - view commentary, squad, and statistics of the game live.

Home is where the heart is for Martinez

Wigan boss Roberto Martinez believes home form could be the key to avoiding relegation as his side prepare to host Sunderland.

The Latics, who are outside the Barclays Premier League relegation zone only on goal difference, have won just twice at the DW Stadium this season.

Martinez is anxious for that record to improve to avoid being pulled into another last-ditch battle against the drop.

The Spaniard said: "Obviously our away performances and results have been good enough.

"We have been competitive and if you look at the last three performances, including the FA Cup, it is not easy to be consistent away from home and we have done that.

"That is something that now we need to take into the home form.

"There are only eight games left at the DW Stadium - a special environment for our players to enjoy playing their football.

"They are eight finals, eight incredibly important events for us to get as many points as we can.

"We do need to get the points the performances deserve. There is no margin for error and we are excited about it. We look forward to that."

Martinez, who has orchestrated dramatic escapes from relegation in each of the last two seasons, accepts his side are in trouble once again.

He said: "I think people get carried away looking at the table - 'if you are in the bottom three you are in relegation danger and if you are above them you are okay'. Until you have 40 points you are fighting to avoid relegation.

"In our league there are two major groups - one of seven clubs who work financially in a different market from the other 13, and if you are in those 13, until you get 40 points you are fighting to avoid relegation.

"That is nothing new and you need to be able to perform and play good football under those circumstances."

Sunderland have also endured a difficult campaign but back-to-back wins over Southampton and champions Manchester City at Christmas lifted spirits and they crushed West Ham 3-0 last week.

Martinez said: "I think the way they started their football under Martin O'Neill brought great expectations and that always makes it harder for a team to perform.

"But they are in their best moment of the season with three wins in their last five.

"That is an impressive return and I feel this Sunderland side is not the Sunderland side we saw performing earlier in the season, because the quality of the players and meaning of their performances make it hard to play against them."

Martinez has issues in defence with Antolin Alcaraz (groin) training but not yet match-fit and Ivan Ramis (knee) ruled out for the season.

The new pair of midfielder Roger Espinoza and striker Angelo Henriquez are pushing for places but defender Adrian Lopez (hamstring) and midfielders Ben Watson (broken leg), Albert Crusat (knee) and Ryo Miyaichi (ankle) are still out.

Sunderland skipper Lee Cattermole has suffered a setback in his bid to return from injury and is expected to miss out against Wigan.

The Black Cats' midfielder, who was used as a substitute in the midweek FA Cup third-round replay defeat by Bolton following a lengthy spell on the sidelines with knee ligament damage, jarred the knee in a practice match on Thursday.

Manager O'Neill said: "He had a bit of a setback there. We are certainly hoping it's not as long as it was before, that would be terrible.

"But it is a setback and I would say he would be doubtful."

But O'Neill will hope to have John O'Shea and Steven Fletcher back.

The Republic of Ireland defender was rested for the defeat by Bolton after complaining of tightness in his hamstring, while the Scotland striker missed out through illness, but both are expected to return.

Defender Kader Mangane and midfielder Alfred N'Diaye could be included after being ineligible in midweek, although the former is short of match-fitness.

Source: PA

World Cup Group G

Belgium 1 0 0 3 3
England 1 0 0 1 3
Tunisa 0 0 1 -1 0
Panama 0 0 1 -3 0
Last updated : 08:44