Wigan vs Man Utd Match Review (One way traffic at the DW)By: Ian | January 2nd, 2013
It’s no secret that Wigan enter the New Year in poor shape. They are, in a word, struggling. They are, in the words of Edmund Blackadder, like ‘an asthmatic ant carrying some heavy shopping’. This game looked a little bit like a non-entity. Come the final whistle, it was like we had watched a gentle comedy drama on ITV over the festive period, one that requires little to no mental engagement, but still makes you feel like you haven’t wasted your game as it was a bit of fun.
In squad news, Rafael’s holiday is over and he returned to his right back position from early season. Giggs was given the spot on the left wing, returning to his winger position of about 20 years ago. Van Persie and Chicharito up front, Cleverley, Carrick and Young (with Giggs) behind, and further back, Rafael, Evans, Ferdinand and Evra. De Gea took a compulsory seat in the goal to read his copy of El Pais.
The chilly New Year’s Day forced Utd to de-frost for a little while before sparking into life. Hernandez was the busy man in the early exchanges; forcing a save from Al-Habsi and a official offside call not long after. Correct call, as was the one later for Wigan’s Kone, but it was a nice move with Giggs’ pass to create the chance being very easy on the eye. Wigan were competitive, well they were present and playing anyway, but nothing to suggest this might be in any way difficult.
Young tried to claim a penalty after a tumble in the box, but it was another supplied ball from Giggs (after good work from Cleverley) that created the next real chance. No one got on the end of it, save Figueroa, who cleared for a corner. It was the sign of things to come though, and the cameras didn’t require much movement from Wigan’s end. Van Persie whipped in a great free-kick to give Evans a chance to convert, with Giggs’ follow-up close to counting as his first league goal this season.
The match against the Latics in September saw Utd win 4-0, but go scoreless in the first half. The scoreline may have been the same, but the first goal came a little earlier this time, from the lively Chicharito. Evans cut the ball back to Evra, who tried to score for a third week running with a drive across the box. This, however, would have caused the world to implode so, for our own safety, Al-Habsi parried it nicely into the path of Hernandez for a tapped finish. 1-0.
This wasn’t really a game, so much as shooting practice, so the second goal before the half time whistle effectively finished off any doubts as to the outcome. Two Wigan defenders had a breakdown of communication, leaving Carrick’s ball to find Hernandez in a lot of space. The Mexican had decades of time to feed Van Persie who, after shimmying to the side to make the remaining defender Ramis fall over, curled a right-footed finish well past Al-Habsi. A delightful 2-0 before the break. Hernandez managed a further goal, but this one was offside.
The midfield after the break decided to assert total dominance, but this somehow made the strikers a bit lacklustre. Effort did seem a bit pointless and oh so tiring. Perhaps this contributed to Kone nearly pulling one back when converting from Franco Di Santo’s ball. A few millimetres meant it was offside, but those sort of margins can be missed and Utd should have considered themselves lucky to have the two-goal advantage. Fortunately, this did get Utd moving again, with Young crossing into the box from wide to see Al-Habsi and Hernandez both chase it. Hernandez won the race, but the keeper did enough to ensure the shot was lifted over. Hernandez should have been somewhere beyond a hattrick at this point, but he finally notched his second just after the hour. A Van Persie free-kick was deflected and, before anyone could react, Hernandez had adjusted and smacked the ball past the keeper. He was celebrating before Wigan had realised what had happened.
Van Persie then nearly got another himself after weaving majestically through the defence only for his effort to curl just over. With the game over, all three substitutions were made with Smalling, Kagawa and Welbeck arriving for Ferdinand, Carrick and Young. Smalling promptly made his presence known by bringing down Kone as the Wigan forward tried to break through. Yellow card it was, but Wigan were cross as Kone would have probably been clean through. Gomez sent in the spot kick, producing the most movement of the afternoon for De Gea, as he stretched to the right just to ensure it was going the wrong side of the post.
Utd swarmed forward for the last time in reply. Wigan were tired and a complete mess-up led to Welbeck receiving the ball to feet. He just sent it across goal to Van Persie who converted the easy chance for his 19th goal in a most excellent season so far. The final whistle came, with Wigan wishing it would have come about an hour and a half earlier. As I’ve mentioned, this was no contest and the three points were secured at a stroll, the perfect belated birthday present for Sir Alex, 71 on New Year’s Eve. Overall, Utd enter the New Year at a comfortable canter and look well placed to take on West Ham in the FA Cup third round on Saturday.
Happy New Year to everyone out there :)