Manchester United v/s Wigan Athletic, Old Trafford. 15.09.2012
Wigan Athletic are the visitors at Old Trafford. After the international break, both teams will be looking to iron out any rustiness and restart the campaign with a win. WIgan have had a mixed start to the season with a win, draw and a loss in the first three matches. Against Stoke, Roberto Martinez’s side led twice, only to throw It away. They were dominating the Potters but defensive frailties denied them a victory. The loss of their star striker, Victor Moses has been made up to a certain extent by the arrival of Arouna Kone. Wigan will be looking to claim an unlikely victory against last year’s runners up. Manchester United, on the other hand will be to make up on lost ground on Chelsea and City. They have not yet hit top gear and fans will be hoping that Wigan feel the wrath of a United side in full force.
International breaks have always been a headache for Sir Alex Ferguson’s team . The sole reason of the ache being that his players, more often than not come back nursing injuries. This break has just reiterated the ire of the United boss. Two of his key performers, Robin van Persie and Shinji Kagawa are both allegedly carrying injuries could have forced them to sit out the match at Old Trafford. Persie, who has a dubious distinction of getting injured on international duty regularly, has a thigh injury while the Japanese is nursing a back spasm might not start tomorrow. Rooney is still a couple of weeks away from a return and Ferguson will be hoping Persie’s injury is not serious. One of the things that United will be looking to improve from the previous matches is their defensive record. 3 matches and no clean sheets yet which is unusual for the team. Vidic and Ferdinand seem to be the main stay this season provided both of them stay fit. The goalkeeping situation looks a bit tricky. David de Gea, barring a little indecisiveness has been extremely good this season. That being said, he was dropped after the match at Fulham where he was at fault for Fulham’s second goal. Lindegaard was between the posts against Southampton but he did not look very comfortable either. The biggest problems in the defense are caused by the full backs. Patrice Evra, who joined United in the winter of 2006 has been poor this season. Rafael, the young Brazilian has also been a bit clumsy. He has been beaten far too easily by the opposition wingers and his defensive abilities are showing no signs of getting better. Alex Buttner, the left back signed frot Vitesse might be tried instead of Evra. Attack is not an area United are in any dearth of world class talent but if you leak more goals at the other end, then it is a different story.
Wigan Athletic have played decent football, even though their points tally suggests otherwise. Against Chelsea, they were undone by Eden Hazard but they really threatened the goal without being able to find the back of the net. Martinez is one of those coaches who believe in playing attacking and free flowing football. He has not yet been able to achieve to a big extent at Wigan but it is a work in progress. Losing one of their most influential player, Moses has put on the brakes on them but Franco di Santo, the top scorer last season has taken on the mantle to succeed and step up. He was the club’s top scorer last season. Martinez plays a solid 3-4-3 with Santo leading the line with Kone and Maloney. Wigan will be hoping to nick some points off from the Red Devils even though the task ahead of them is not easy. If Wigan are not careful and are more adventurous than required United will hammer them. Martinez will look into that and approach this game as it goes along. If they concede early, they will have to chase the game which will benefit United. If they don’t concede, then they might have a chance of nicking it at the end.
Manchester United – With RvP and Kagawa both fit for tomorrow as Sir Alex declared in his press conference there is a massive chance of both of them start from bench. Welbeck and Hernandez might get the nod for this match as Ferguson will have one eye on the mid week fixture against Galatasray. Cleverly, who was not at his best against Southampton could start in midfield alongside Carrick. David de Gea might get his position back in goal while Vidic and Ferdinand will look to renew their partnership. The full backs positions are a mystery. Reports suggest Buttner might get the nod ahead of Evra and Rafael is the only option at right back.
Wigan Athletic– Martinez, is a typical Spanish coach. He likes fluency in his team. The 3-4-3 formation definitely gives him that. Plus the international break hardly affects his team. With the trio of Santo,Kone and Maloney upfront supported by a solid partnership in the middle of the park of McArthur and McCarthy taking charge, breaking them down is a tough ask. Caldwell and Figuero have been solid at the back for Wigan over the years and they again seem to hold the fort. Al Habsi, the 30-year old Egyptian has been a revelation since joining Wigan. He has dug Wigan out of the hole so many times since he has joined the club and he is an automatic first choice starter. He will be expecting a bombardment from the home team. Martinez will be aware of this and may employ a rather defensive approach for this game.
MAN TO WATCH
Manchester United – Tom Cleverly – With Persie and Kagawa possibly resting tomorrow, United will be looking for inspiration from Cleverly to unlock the Wigan defense. He has a smart football brain and he usually keeps it simple. He still has to learn a lot but the signs thus far are positive. A subdued performance against Ukarine for England shouldn’t be a deterrent in his progress. Players around him will look to him for that killer pass and he is more than capable of delivering it.
Wigan Athletic – Franco di Santo –He may still be very young but he has matured an awful lot since his time at Chelsea. He came into the English arena quite young and that prevented him from making an instant impact and it took him time to settle down. He was Wigan’s top scorer last season and will be looked upon as the main striker for the club this season. He has led the line beautifully this season in the absence of the now departed, Victor Moses.
By :ABHIMANYU HALAKHANDI