Man Utd. currently sits atop the table with a record of 16-1-3 and has only lost once this month. Wigan is 31 points behind the Red Devils in the standings with a 5-3-12 record, but it’ll enter the match with momentum coming off a 3-0 victory over Aston Villa.
Here’s everything you need to know about the showdown.
When: Tuesday, Jan. 1, at 10 a.m. ET
Where: DW Stadium
Watch: Fox Soccer Plus
What They’re Saying
Simon Stone of the Daily Mail reported that Man Utd. Defender Patrice Evra believes, despite the club’s defensive inconsistency this season, it’s improved from last year. He said:
The confidence of keeping a clean sheet is good … Maybe it sounds bizarre but I feel we were weaker defensively last year even if this season we have conceded more goals. I know sometimes it is about concentration and we can do much better but it does seems the opponent scores every time they shoot. I am not worried about the goals.
According to Sky Sports, Wigan A manager Roberto Martinez raved about Scottish midfielder Shaun Maloney after his performance against Aston Villa. He said:
Shaun Maloney is one of the most gifted players you can see in this league. He has a good eye for a pass but other than that he has moved to a different level. His performance against Villa was of the highest, highest level. This season is a reflection of what he did last season. I hope he gets a lot of recognition as he deserves all the credit.
Most Important Player to Watch: Shinji Kagawa
Manchester United managed to build a seven-point lead in the EPL table despite Kagawa being unable to play due to injury in all but seven games this season. He suited up for the first time since October against West Brom in a 2-0 triumph.
If the Japanese midfielder shakes off the rust and adds yet another element to the already stacked Red Devils, the league title will be theirs to lose.
Key Matchup: Robin van Persie vs. Ali Al-Habsi
It’s safe to say RVP turned out to be a solid pickup for Man Utd. He only leads the club in scoring with 14 goals and is second in assists with six. As of Sunday, Dec. 30, van Persie leads all Barclays Premier League footballers in goals scored.
It’ll be up to Al-Habsi to end the striker’s hot streak of six goals in the past seven games. In 20 starts this season, he’s recorded 69 saves and three clean sheets. Coming off a shutout against the Lions, he’s sure to be confident.
Prediction: Manchester United, 3-2
Wigan Athletic hasn’t lost by more than a goal since Dec. 3, so it’ll be able to keep the score close. The Red Devils, though, are too scorching and too talented to suffer a letdown to the lowly Latics.
David Daniels is a featured columnist at Bleacher Report and a syndicated writer.