Wigan boss wary of Cats’ threat

Victory at Sunderland in November ended Wigan’s long winless run

but Martinez expects the Black Cats to be a very different prospect

this time. The 2-1 win, sealed by Franco Di Santo in injury time,

was their first in three months and kicked off a run of results

that has brought them nine points from the last seven games. It is

an impressive haul for a struggling side, and even more so given

that four of their opponents in that sequence were Manchester

United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool. The Latics ended 2011 by

fighting back to draw 2-2 with Stoke at the Britannia Stadium, but

Martinez knows they have their work cut out if they are to start

2012 with victory. Sunderland have won three of their five matches

since Martin O’Neill took over as manager from Steve Bruce, most

recently a shock 1-0 victory over Barclays Premier League leaders

Manchester City. Martinez told wiganlatics.co.uk: “The change of

manager at Sunderland has galvanised the team and they have had

some very positive results since Martin O’Neill’s arrival. “There

seems to have been a big change in the way they play and the belief

they have in themselves, which will mean we’ll have to be at our

best. “Going into January it’s a very important game for us after

the month we’ve had in December, facing Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool

and Manchester United. “We’ve passed the month with flying colours

and have shown a real belief in ourselves, playing outstanding

phases of football and coupling that with results. “The results

have been good enough, I feel, to take us into 2012 ready to get

the rewards this team deserves.” Martinez will have to make a

change to the side that drew at Stoke, with captain Gary Caldwell

serving a one-match ban for his sending-off at the Britannia. Steve

Gohouri is likely to come in, and Martinez is confident the Scot’s

absence will not prove too much of a hindrance. “The way we operate

means that we’re able to respond to these disappointments, and we

have to make sure somebody is ready to come in and prove themselves

in another player’s absence,” he said. “It’s a unique opportunity

for someone else to come in and do as the substitutes against Stoke

City did – make an impression on the game with their concentration.

“The approach will be exactly the same as it was for when we played

at the Britannia Stadium. We want to win and we have to win. “The

competition for places needs to remain high and we need to continue

with the style of play, trying to affect results that little bit

more, as we have done over the last month.”