United continued their crucial run of games with the short trip to the DW stadium to take on Wigan Athletic. Wigan who have been languishing near the bottom of the premier league table were looking to record their first win against the reds, having lost all 12 previous meetings with an aggregate score 0f 37 – 3. However with United looking fairly vulnerable on the road this season, Wigan were hopeful that they could spring a surprise against with Fergie’s side having one eye on next weeks clashes against Chelsea and Liverpool. United made 2 changes to the side who struggled in the week against Marseille, with Paul Scholes and Chicharito returning to action in place of Dimitar Berbatov and Darron Gibson.
Wigan began the game extremely brightly, and it appeared that United were suffering one of their notorious european hangovers with the home side playing some fantastic football. They were presented with a golden opportunity within four minutes, after a poor Paul Scholes clearance, only for Victor Moses to be denied by a sprawling Van Der Sar when he perhaps should have done better. Wigan’s pressure did not subsided, however typical of the latics season they were punished for their failure to take the initiative on 17 minutes, as Nani burst down the left flank, before squaring to Chicharito who slotted home in trademark fashion.
The temptation to let their heads drop would have been great for Wigan, however they continued to attack United and again gave the reds a real scare moments after taking the lead, as a well crafted move put James McCarthy through on goal only for Van Der Sar to once again deny Wigan with a marvelous save. A pulsating 1st half was nearly capped by a wonderful goal from Nani, who saw his thunderous strike hit the post with Al Habsi rooted to the spot, yet United went in at half time relatively relieved to be ahead. However, Wigan were aggrieved by an incident off the ball involving Wayne Rooney who appeared to catch McCarthy with a deliberate elbow whilst attempting to close down the ball. Although incidents like this have become more sparse in Rooney’s game, his petulant streak still remains, and a potential FA ban could really damage our title chances.
United came out for the second half more confident and assured than the first, limiting Wigan’s space to run at the defence of which they had enjoyed much in the 1st 45. Bar a ferocious Maynor Figueroa shot which was yet again well parried by Van Der Sar, United looked more and more likely to put the game beyond Wigan. Chances for Wayne Rooney and Darren Fletcher went begging, setting up a potentially tense final quarter of the match, however once again Chicharito put the travelling red’s minds at ease on 75 minutes, after being played through, there was only one outcome from the lethal Mexican. With the points sealed, United were able to express themselves more, with a rare freedom away from home. A 3rd goal was soon to follow after a comical offside trap was breached by Dimitar Berbatov, who bearing down on goal unselfishly squared to Rooney leaving him the simple task of tapping in. Fabio provided the icing on the cake 2 minutes before time after cooly controlling a cross and slotting home at the near post with the freedom of the Wigan penalty area.
4-0 was a somewhat flattering scoreline for the reds, however once again we showed that we can remain solid at the back in the face of decent opposition pressure. What will really please Fergie though was our ability to finally kill off opposition away from home, especially with a run of extremely tough away games yet to come, this is as good a time to perfect that ability as any. United will face Chelsea on tuesday night at Stamford Bridge in what could become a crucial game for the reds come the end of the season.