Reds aim for top as Wigan visit



Manchester United heads into the penultimate game of the year still carrying more than half-a-dozen injuries, but facing a Wigan Athletic side on the precipice. United’s manager Sir Alex Ferguson received mixed injury news this week as the Reds aim for the Premier League summit against Roberto Martinez’ outfit, still glowing from the 5-0 victory over Fulham in midweek.

United faces a Wigan side still in the bottom three but in much improved form over the past month. Martinez’ side held Chelsea at home 10 days ago, and then Liverpool in midweek. Yet, absences notwithstanding, this is a fixture that United always wins, and with title rivals Manchester City facing a tricky fixture at West Bromwich Albion, United could top the league by Saturday evening.

Defender-cum-midfielder Phil Jones is likely to make the fixture despite coming off with a suspected fractured jaw against Fulham last week. The youngster will partner in-form Michael Carrick in central midfield once again.

But if United struck lucky with news that the 19-year-old’s injury was far less serious than initially diagnosed, the loss of Ashley Young to an ankle problem is another blow in a period when United has been hit hard by absences. Meanwhile, long-term victims Tom Cleverley, Anderson, and Michael Owen are unlikely to return until well into the new year.

Rio Ferdinand is again unlikely to feature, but Rafael da Silva could come into the side for his first game of the season.

“We have good news on Phil Jones: he should be okay for Monday,” confirmed Ferguson.

“He has some swelling in his jaw but there’s no break, no fracture, which is good news. We feared the worst because he lost his vision a bit in that period when he came back onto the field. Thankfully it’s good news.

“It’s not so good for Ashley Young. We’re still waiting on some of the bleeding to go away, which is quite extensive at the moment. It was a sore one so he’ll be out for a few weeks. Ashley was tripped as he went into the next tackle. He wasn’t positioned to go into that next tackle – he was half-falling at the time. The second tackle was a hard tackle – not a bad tackle – it was just the way he went into Ashley. He’s taken a real clump.”

“There’s not great news on the other ones – Michael, Tom and Ando are still on the sick list. But Rafael played in the Reserves last night, which will help him. As we get one back, we’re losing one. It’s not an easy spell for us but we just have to get on with it. The squad has handled the situation quite well. The form has been really good and I’m pleased with that. We’re scoring goals again, which is terrific.”

Manchester United versus Wigan Athletic, Premier League, Old Trafford, Monday 26 December 2011, 3pm.Despite the injuries this season Ferguson insists that he will not dip into the transfer market in the coming window. Blaming “blogs and Twitter” for the current concern about the state of United’s squad, the 69-year-old manager says that while money is available for transfers he does not believe his squad needs strengthening.

It is a contentious argument – one that supporters who witnessed last season’s humiliation against Barcelona, or indeed, the more recent calamitous defeat to FC Basel might contradict. In truth, few bar Ferguson believe that the manager’s state-of-mind is influenced by anybody but the club’s parsimonious owners. The word emanating from European clubs and agents is that United has no money to spend this winter.

“The criticism has been understandable,” added Ferguson.

“You lose a derby game 6-1, you’re knocked out of the Carling Cup and you lose to Basel, who aren’t a powerhouse. You can understand the criticism. But we show the resilience and determination to do something about it, each time it happens. That says a lot about the character of the team.

“All things being equal, I am perfectly happy with the strength of our squad in terms of depth, quality and age range,” Ferguson added in his programme notes for Monday’s game. “I will not be swayed by the endless tweets and blogs urging the club to get busy in the transfer market next month.

“As far as I am concerned I am marching perfectly in step, true to my beliefs and principles. While recruiting some of the world’s leading players can lift you into contention for honours, it doesn’t necessarily take you all the way, as I hope we will be able to demonstrate before the end of the season as other factors come into play.”

Ferguson’s stance will raise a few eyebrows, as will the Scot’s assertion that Carrick is now United’s pivotal player in a midfield that has struggled to dominate matches against superior opponents in recent seasons. But if United is to win a 20th domestic title in May then Ferguson is set to do so with his current squad, and victories over Wigan and others near the relegation zone are a must. United faces Wigan on Monday, followed by Blackburn Rovers at Old Trafford on Ferguson’s birthday, New Year’s Eve.

“I watched Wigan versus Chelsea the other day and I thought Wigan were terrific,” added the Scot.

“It says a lot for Roberto Martinez – he continues to play good football irrespective of what position they’re in. We have a good record against Wigan but we won’t take anything for granted. We need to keep out foot on the pedal. I don’t think they’re a relegation team. They do well against the bigger teams. Last year, I think they lost heavily to Chelsea and, this season, they got a draw and could have won. I think Wigan will stay in the Premier League.”

Meanwhile, Wigan make the short trip to Old Trafford without Steve Gohouri, who has flu. Striker Hugo Rodallega faces a late fitness test – the Ecuadorian picked up an injury during Saturday’s draw with Chelsea and then featured, injured, against Liverpool.

For one United player the Latics’ visit is a special occasion. Antonio Valencia joined United a little over two years ago, and with Young set to remain on the sidelines for several weeks, is once again a key part of the Reds’ attack this season. The winger has found a renewed spell of form in recent matches after suffering a genuine confidence problem earlier in the season.

“They’ll always have a special place in my heart,” Antonio told United Review.

“I came here from abroad and I was taken in as one of the family from the first day. It was a real special group of players that we had in those few seasons there, and it was great to be a part of. I have only have gratitude and fond memories of my time there. I still speak regularly with Maynor Figueroa, who is a close friend of mine.

“I do look out for their scores. I know at the minute they’re by no means out of danger, but they’re working hard and they’ve picked up some decent results recently and let’s hope they can get up there and be fighting for ninth or tenth place.”

Few will expect that fight to begin against United on Boxing Day though. The Reds have won 13 of 13 encounters during the Premier League era. Indeed, goal difference and the opportunity to close the gap to title rivals City may well be on the agenda.

Match Facts
Manchester United versus Wigan Athletic, Premier League, Old Trafford, Monday 26 December 2011, 3pm.

Likely Line-ups
United (4-4-1-1): De Gea; Rafael, Smalling, Evans, Evra; Valencia, Jones, Carrick, Nani; Rooney; Welbeck. Subs from: Lindegaard, Fryers, Park, Pogba, Cole, Diouf, Giggs, Macheda, Berbatov.

Wigan (4-5-1): Al Habsi; Alcaraz, Caldwell, Stam, Figueroa; McCarthy, Gomez, Diame, Jones, Moses; Rodallega. Subs from: Watson, Sammon, Di Santo, Pollitt, Lopez, Crusat, Watson, McArthur.

Form
United: LWLWWW
Wigan: DWLWDD

Performance stats

  • United hit five past Fulham in the last Premier League game, with the Reds out running Fulham by 64.75 miles to 64.53 miles;
  • Michael Carrick has a tackles won rate of 96 per cent this season, and covered the most ground for the Reds with 6.56 miles against Fulham;
  • Jonny Evans made six clearances in the game against Fulham, the highest of any player in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index in the last round of games;
  • Ryan Giggs was on target against Fulham, and continues his record of scoring in every Premier League season. Giggs has made just six shots at goal this season, but has contributed 174 passes in his opponent’s half, along with 10 dribbles and 10 crosses, leading to an impressive five assists. That’s an assist every 106 minutes, the second most frequent provider in the league;
  • Meanwhile, Wigan gained a valuable point against Liverpool last week, with midfielder James McCarthy covering the most ground with 6.33 miles;
  • Goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi was the Index’ busiest goalkeeper in the last round of games, making 11 saves.

Officials
Referee: Phil Dowd (Staffordshire)
Assistants: G Beswick, S Ledger
Fourth Official: A Taylor

Share Button

Comments

  1. Oh Phil Jones…he’s immense, unbreakable, the new Roy Keane and all that bollocks!! Come on people let’s get a grip here. The lad is ONLY 19 years of age and the way some people are hyping him up is quite laughable to be honest! Yes he’s a GOOD footballer but I have to say that he’s not a GREAT footballer! The hype around this lad is getting a bit much for my liking now. Also have to say that Giggsy’s performance against Fulham was immense! He was unbelievable it has to be said! I wouldn’t mind if he starts agin today in midfield and Jones at cb. I also don’t even think that Jones is a midfielder. U can’t even compare Gigg’s peformance in midfield to that of Jones’s performances in midfield this season. Oh well I trust Fergie and he knlws best at the end of the day. Anyways come on United! Let’s get the 3 points lads! Let’s av iiiiiiit!

  2. Alfonso Bedoya Alfonso Bedoya says:

    “It is a contentious argument – one that supporters who witnessed last season’s humiliation against Barcelona, or indeed, the more recent calamitous defeat to FC Basel might contradict. In truth, few bar Ferguson believe that the manager’s state-of-mind is influenced by anybody but the club’s parsimonious owners. The word emanating from European clubs and agents is that United has no money to spend this winter.”
    Yeah well, you know fuck all Ed… as do European clubs and agents… in fact, anyone who believes the Glazers are strangling transfer funds… is full of shit.
    United is minted… it’s just that Ferguson is a daft, jock twat, that would rather spend money on Glenfiddich and nose cream, than waste it on the midfield…
    Right Dannii???
    United win… 3-0

    “Badges, to god-damned hell with badges! We have no badges. In fact, we don’t need badges. I don’t have to show you any stinking badges, you god-damned cabrón and ching’ tu madre! Come out from that shit-hole of yours. I have to speak to you.”

  3. Rest Carrick and Jones, that would be sensible

    Come on West Brom

  4. sensible yes
    but we need our best 11 out on the pitch to get as many goals
    wigan are not a bad side as of late and no doubt will be primed to attack
    but united’s quality will come through today

  5. Carrick starts in defence

    Berba up top
    Lindegaard; Valencia, Carrick, Jones, Evra; Park, Gibson, Giggs, Nani; Berbatov, Hernandez.
    Bench: De Gea, Rooney, Welbeck, Rafael, Diouf, Macheda, Fryers

  6. Violent Banana says:

    Smalling injured too? Bloody hell this is ridiculous.

  7. uncleknobheadffs uncleknobheadforfucksake says:

    pisstake team

  8. surprised that phelan hasn’t donned a red shirt with all those crocks in our squad

  9. uncleknobheadforfucksake said:
    pisstake team

    hello unc
    how was your xmas and aunty?
    nice to see you back on form
    xxx

  10. Gibson starting …..hmmmmmm
    not good

  11. madredmonkey madredmonkey says:

    Come on united, hi HAN, and fellow ranters, hope you had a great christmas, but now back to footie,

  12. Suppose Fergie is expecting Wigan to camp in their half, so our centrebacks will have a lot of the ball

    If we get an early goal it’ll be piss

  13. wigan will attack not defend if their recent games are anything to go by

  14. hi mad red – hope you finished stuffing the turkey before your missus shoved it into the oven
    aye back to footie
    come on united

  15. link?

  16. parkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk
    1-0

  17. madredmonkey madredmonkey says:

    Park nice to see him score 1-0.

  18. madredmonkey madredmonkey says:

    han said:
    hi mad red – hope you finished stuffing the turkey before your missus shoved it into the oven
    aye back to footie
    come on united

    I had to call in the fire brigade, to cut my knob free,

  19. dozer said:
    link?

    its on bbc 5 live extra if you don’t have a tv link

  20. off the line from nani’s shot
    need a couple more with our absent defence

  21. I have no doubt that our manager is sadist!! Honestly..

  22. Calvino said:
    I have no doubt that our manager is sadist!! Honestly..

  23. evans is lousy

  24. madmax said:

    How else can he choose a team like that when we can not afford to drop any more points? Either that or he actually rates his players far more than we do. Oh well…

  25. madredmonkey madredmonkey says:

    Is evans trying to get sent off.

  26. That Mister Potato Crisps advert is embarassing

  27. madredmonkey said:
    Is evans trying to get sent off.

    no change there then

  28. Calvino said:
    How else can he choose a team like that when we can not afford to drop any more points? Either that or he actually rates his players far more than we do. Oh well…

    he’s probably trying to figure out the worst side with which he can win

  29. attack you shitheads

  30. red card……..hmmmmmm
    refs are so inconsistent

  31. oh well
    lets get a few goals now

  32. berbatov is so shit its unbelievable…………..2-0

  33. madredmonkey madredmonkey says:

    That’s better, 2-0, game over, more goals now.

  34. this is pretty much a walk over now. would like a couple of more goals at least.

  35. City 0-0

    But the Dippers are losing 1-0 at home to Blackburn, hehe

  36. stick rooney and welbeck on 2nd half and rip that goal difference to shreds this afternoon
    and if albion can get a draw, it will be 1 great afternoon

  37. fryers on for evans

  38. chocolatteballs says:

    Berbatov = G.O.A.T

  39. chocolatteballs said:
    Berbatov = G.O.A.T

    please tell…

  40. brianofnazareth brianofnazareth says:

    Best soapcast?

  41. come on united – attack ffs
    berbatov is so shite
    3-0

  42. madredmonkey madredmonkey says:

    Berba in the mood today.

  43. chocolatteballs says:

    Greatest
    Of
    All
    Time

    G.O.A.T

  44. lets get a few more goals today

  45. no matter how many we score, our defending has been suspect all season
    wigan have created chances, both by work rate and errors by us

  46. tony veeeeeeeeeeeeeee
    come on united

  47. madredmonkey madredmonkey says:

    penalty.

  48. pen
    come on berbsssssssssssssssss

  49. madredmonkey madredmonkey says:

    5-0 berba 3.

  50. Class penalty

  51. sidney said:
    Class penalty

    but he is so shit…. right~~?

  52. wanting a 6th would be greedy wouldn’t it?

  53. City draw

  54. madredmonkey madredmonkey says:

    west brom 0-0, good day.

  55. albion getting a point
    NICE

  56. biggest cheer at OT this afternoon after that west brom result…….

  57. madredmonkey madredmonkey says:

    great win , good also for goal difference, good for berba.

  58. the wheels on the massive bus punctured today

  59. United rising to the challenge

    We will be top by New Year

  60. Result!

  61. Nice rendition of Suarez racist bastard today n all

  62. 16 goals in 4 games with only 1 conceded

    We might not sign a midfielder on that form…

  63. lovely stuff

  64. denton davey says:

    Sidney – we don’t “need” a new midfielder; we just need to get the ones we have healthy.

  65. Alex Ferguson expects Jonny Evans to be out of action for a fortnight after he was forced out of Manchester United’s 5-0 win over Wigan with a calf injury at Old Trafford this afternoon.

    Evans was United’s only fit central defender heading into the game and failed to reappear for the second half as Dimitar Berbatov bagged a hat-trick.

    And Ferguson confirmed the Northern Ireland defender will not make the New Year’s Eve encounter with Blackburn.

    “Jonny came off injured. He has a calf injury and will be out for two weeks,” Ferguson told BBC Radio Five Live.

    “We have had a nightmare the last few days. Phil Jones and Chris Smalling have both been ill. Rio Ferdinand called off yesterday with a back injury and Jonny Evans has come off at half-time.

    “It does put you under pressure.”

  66. It’ll be another bodgedtofuck team for Blackburn then

  67. Dinkinflicker says:

    Commenter said:
    Sidney – we don’t “need” a new midfielder; we just need to get the ones we have healthy.

    I’ve got an awful feeling that with all these injuries at the back we’ll end up signing Gary Cahill….

  68. uncleknobheadffs uncleknobheadforfucksake says:

    carrick evans berbatov valencia

    four crap bollockless players currently playing well against the riff raff

  69. uncleknobheadforfucksake said:
    carrick evans berbatov valencia

    four crap bollockless players currently playing well against the riff raff

    uncle always looks on the bright side, thats why he is loved by all on here

  70. Herbie Simms says:

    We should not complain, we are at the top of the league despite the crappy team on the field. All of these good results makes SAF look like a saint. Are we just fortunate, lucky or is God on our side. We are like the energizer bunny, and we could be on our way to another league title with this crap. Unbelieveable!

  71. nothing saintly about being dropped at the group stages of the CL by the likes of fc basle. mancunty, the chavs and le arse are still in this.

    without investment it will be sheer luck that jones and rooney can survive the entire season without injury. i don’t buy it that carrick’s form can last all season and park /giggs have one good game a month, max. new goaly like de gea is bound to fuck up soon enough again too. same goes for a new defender like smalling.

    still CL failure aside, so long as we tick along maxing out in the GD, it’s all good. number 20 is the goal now.

  72. uncleknobheadffs uncleknobheadforfucksake says:

    hernandez needs to sort himself out

  73. He is just back from injury and he shits over your 1 goal every 2 months superstar Welbeck.

  74. Not really. Not saying Hernandez is shite or anything, because clearly he’s not, but based on what I’ve seen this season, I would take Welbeck over Chicharito.

    At least when Welbeck isn’t scoring, he’s offering a lot more to the team. Hernandez’s biggest strength is to find himself space where he can receive the ball. Welbeck is good at this but he is also the better player when he is with the ball in terms of his ability to take on defences and his passing.

  75. One is the main man for Mexico and the other can’t get in the England team. Hernandez offers more pace, has unrivaled movement in the box and is a far superior finisher.

    Welbeck has a few nice dribbles and lay off’s against your Fulhams and Norwich City’s and he is a world beater apparently.

  76. gah, they’re both great. welbeck just needs time, hernandez needs to involve himself more in the build up – if he doesn’t score, he doesn’t do much. either way, they’re both fantastic young players.

  77. squigs said:
    One is the main man for Mexico and the other can’t get in the England team. Hernandez offers more pace, has unrivaled movement in the box and is a far superior finisher.
    Welbeck has a few nice dribbles and lay off’s against your Fulhams and Norwich City’s and he is a world beater apparently.

    Your point about international experience is irrelevant as to who is the better player but I will indulge it anyway:
    Hernandez’s rivals for a starting place in the centre forward position for Mexico in the last World Cup: Pablo Barrera (Pumas UNAM), Adolfo Bautista (Guadalajara), Alberto Medina (Guadalajara), Cuauhtemoc Blanco (Veracruz), Giovani dos Santos (Galatasaray), Guillermo Franco (West Ham), Carlos Vela (Arsenal).
    I mean, just look who Hernandez was up against. He must have been shitting himself.
    Welbeck can’t get in the England team? Did you see the under 21 tournament last summer?
    Welbeck’s competition is Rooney (who is undroppable) and then more experienced players like Defoe, Crouch and Bent (OK they’re not world beaters but they have more experience than Welbeck who’s only 21 FFS).
    As for your notion that Hernandez is a ‘far superior’ finisher compared to Welbeck, that’s not true. If anything, this season alone, Welbeck has a slightly better goals to game ratio (6 goals in 18 games) compared to Hernandez (6 in 19).
    Hernandez is great if you give him the ball. No one can question that he’s a good finisher but Welbeck is better able to create something for the team when he isn’t scoring than Hernandez is.

  78. England U21, you mean the team if Andy Carroll agreed to play in would mean Welbeck wouldn’t have got a game and were totally useless at the tournament.

    Wow, suggesting England’s many ‘talented’ strikers are what is holding Welbeck back, you would want to include Carroll,Walcott and Daniel Sturridge as others who are in front of him. Hernandez would likely be in that team if he was English but that’s a hypothetical. The Mexican front line, in particular Hernandez were impressive at that world cup and Hernandez when playing for Mexico exhibits a better all round game then we see at United where his role is to run in behind defenders.

    I don’t get this Welbeck as a creative force thing either, he layed on a grand total of two assists in the league this year.

  79. Ffs, what a shit argument, Ruud is clearly better than Henry.

  80. and I was working on League goals, with Hernandez 6 from 15 and Welbeck 4 from 14, arguably neither have been good enough, but I know Hernandez has 20 goal seasons in him and I really don’t think Welbeck does.

  81. squigs said:
    England U21, you mean the team if Andy Carroll agreed to play in would mean Welbeck wouldn’t have got a game and were totally useless at the tournament.

    Wow, suggesting England’s many ‘talented’ strikers are what is holding Welbeck back, you would want to include Carroll,Walcott and Daniel Sturridge as others who are in front of him. Hernandez would likely be in that team if he was English but that’s a hypothetical. The Mexican front line, in particular Hernandez were impressive at that world cup and Hernandez when playing for Mexico exhibits a better all round game then we see at United where his role is to run in behind defenders.

    I don’t get this Welbeck as a creative force thing either, he layed on a grand total of two assists in the league this year.

    Mexico’s forwards were fucking shite. Franco, in particular, was abysmal. His performance against South Africa is one that sticks out in the mind. Welbeck has arguably a better calibre of competition to get into the international set-up. Welbeck was one of the better England players in that under 21 tournament. Don’t let their collective failings kid you into thinking that he was second-rate. He certainly wasn’t. If anything, he was one of their better players.

    Just out of interest, where do you get your statistics?

  82. squigs said:
    and I really don’t think Welbeck does.

    Based on what?

  83. It’s not a great site but I would use ESPN Soccer Net for stats.

    I base it on that Hernandez has 23 from 33 at international level, while plenty have come against some poor teams he has goals against France and Argentina in the world cup, he was near a goal every 2 games last year. It was a superb first season.

    Welbeck at this point has primarily been an U 21 player and averaged a goal every 4 games at Sunderland, his all round game is better then Hernandez but I don’t think it’s anywhere near as good as some people seem to think.

  84. Welbeck vs Hernandez? Ha!
    Hernandez is a world class talent, the jury’s out on Welbeck. Chica..o won us the league last season.

  85. chocolatteballs says:

    I think Hernandez would get into any team in the world , obviously Wellbeck wouldn’t.

    But he was shit against Barca, it that wasn’t his game it was Berbas game .It was why we bought him originally ….composure creativity and posseisson in the final third.

    Wellbeck good, Hernandez better.

    Just my opinion.

  86. I’d take Sturridge over Welbeck

  87. uncleknobheadffs uncleknobheadforfucksake says:

    I look at sturridge iand just see a fancy defoe

    welbeck, unlike sturridge or hernandez, will be a top draw footballer

  88. FFS indeed,

    Sturridge is already better the DeFoe and is likely to still get much better. You really ought to watch more football, his goal return is more then double that of Welbeck. If Sturridge improves his decision making he will be an excellent player.

  89. agree with squigs and sidney, Sturridge has the potential to be class but i wldn’t write off welbeck just yet – guy needs a proper run with rooney alongside.

  90. Struddige has more to his game than Defoe, and the proof is how he has become one of Chelsea’s most important players – a ‘make things happen when everyone else is being bollocks’ type player
    He and Welbeck are very similar in terms of pace, power, x factor and finishing, but Sturridge is closer to the finished product IMO

  91. danniitronix said:
    agree with squigs and sidney, Sturridge has the potential to be class but i wldn’t write off welbeck just yet – guy needs a proper run with rooney alongside.

    Welbeck needs a run of games and soon everyone will appreciate what a class player he is. Look, I appreciate Hernandez is a fantastic player but I prefer a centre forward who has more about them than just score goals – which is why I prefer Welbeck. It just seems to me that Welbeck has more about him. Squigs talks about goal returns but Welbeck’s challenge is staying fit and playing regularly. The way he runs makes me worry that his hamstring is about to go at any moment.
    If he can stay fit, and he can get a regular run in the side, the goals will come. He’ll have far better service from our wingers than what he had when he was on loan at Sunderland, for a start. He’s only (barely) 21. He will get better and better.

Speak Your Mind

*