Sunderland are in real danger of being dragged into the Premier League relegation battle after a woeful run of just one point in their last nine matches.
From resembling potential European contenders at the turn of the year, the Black Cats are now nervously looking over their shoulders and are 14/1 with bwin to drop down into the Championship.
Their opponents on Saturday, fellow strugglers Wigan, arrive in the north-east off the back of an impressive 3-1 win at Blackpool and could move to within a point of Steve Bruce’s men with another victory.
They will know that Sunderland have not managed a triumph at the Stadium of Light since January 1st, prior to the departure of star man Darren Bent to Aston Villa, and that Bruce is yet to beat his former club since leaving the DW Stadium.
Furthermore, the hosts have only recorded one victory in their nine Premier League meetings with Wigan, so perhaps odds of 53/20 on an away success could tempt some punters.
Such a strategy may be boosted by the fact that the Black Cats, who have been decimated by injuries to key men in recent weeks, could be without Danny Welbeck, Kieran Richardson and Sulley Muntari against the Latics.
However, it has been two years since Wigan reeled off two successive top-flight wins and they have scored fewer goals (32) than any other Premier League side this term.
Although Roberto Martinez’s charges have generally been better on the road, Sunderland’s winless run must come to an end at some point and betting on them at evens could pay off.
With the opening exchanges likely to be fairly cagey – the first 15 minutes of the Latics’ away games this season have featured only five goals in total – perhaps a more profitable route could be betting on the draw/Sunderland selection in the half-time/full-time market, at odds of 4/1.
Alternatively, it may be worth considering that ten of Sunderland’s 17 home matches this season have contained less than three goals, as have four of their last five clashes with Wigan.
A repeat of this outcome is priced at 3/4 with bwin, meaning a successful £10 bet would return £17.50.
If Sunderland are to take a huge step towards preserving their Premier League status, they will undoubtedly be looking to Asamoah Gyan to provide the goals.
The Ghana hitman, who scored when the two sides met in the reverse fixture in September, can be backed at odds of 7/5 to hit the back of the net again at any time.
But the overriding feeling is that a nervy, low-scoring affair is on the cards, which could encourage bets on the draw (9/4) or specific scorelines such as 0-0 (29/4), 1-0 (27/4) and 1-1 (23/4).
A winning £10 bet on Sunderland to be beating Wigan 1-0 at half-time would return £39. New customers can register here for a £25 free bet.