FA Community Shield 2013: Match Preview for Manchester United vs. Wigan Athletic

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FA Community Shield 2013: Match Preview for Manchester United vs. Wigan Athletic
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Making their first ever appearance in the FA Community Shield match, 2013 FA Cup champions Wigan Athletic will travel to Wembley Stadium on Sunday to face reigning Premier League victors Manchester United. 

United are the most storied franchise in the history of the Football Association event, outright winners of the Community Shield a staggering 15 times. Additionally, they have a near-spotless record against Wigan, dropping only one outcome in 17 matches. 

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Can Owen Coyle turn Wigan's fortunes around?

Although they were relegated to The Football League after an 18th-place finish in the EPL table, Wigan come into the match showing strong form. In seven preseason matches to start the year, the Latics have six wins and have dropped only one match in preparation for their new league season. 

On the other hand, United have struggled as manager David Moyes tries to bring the club into a new era of football without sacrificing competitive results. 

The Red Devils were largely embarrassed during Rio Ferdinand's testimonial against Sevilla on Friday. Falling behind by two goals in the first half, United suffered their worst defeat (3-1) of the preseason so far. 

In preparation for the latest edition of the Community Shield, here's a complete preview of Sunday's United-Wigan clash. 

 

Match Information

What: 2013 FA Community Shield

Who: Manchester United (2012-13 EPL winner) vs. Wigan Athletic (2013 FA Cup winner)

When: Sunday, Aug. 11, at 9 a.m. ET (2 p.m. BST)

Where: Wembley Stadium, London, England

Watch: Fox Soccer (U.S.); ITV (U.K.)

Live Stream: FoxSoccer2Go

 

Match Preview

Atsushi Tomura/Getty Images

The David Moyes era has not gotten off to a good start at Old Trafford. 

Granted, preseason friendlies aren't an easy place to gauge a club's progress. But with three losses in their last seven matches after Friday's Sevilla beatdown, the Red Devils have just one match before the Premier League season begins. 

While getting the club into top form before the Premier League season begins is priority No. 1 for Moyes, the biggest storyline surrounding the Red Devils is anything but. 

For those guessing at home, Wayne Rooney is the correct answer. 

Sitting out a majority of United's preseason games with an injury, Rooney returned to training over the past week and is expected to play for England in their friendly against Scotland next Wednesday. 

Originally not thought to be fit to play in the Community Shield, ESPN UK is reporting that Rooney's fitness is at a level that will allow him to play against Wigan. Whether or not Moyes chooses to play Rooney, though, is another story entirely. 

With intense transfer rumours surrounding the 27-year-old star striker, he will be the biggest storyline for the Red Devils until he moves on to another club or the transfer window closes. 

Back on the pitch, United should be more equipped to pick up a victory if some of the club's strong players are in Moyes' starting lineup. Robin van Persie, Michael Carrick, Ryan Giggs and Wilfried Zaha were all subs against Sevilla, but there's a good chance we will see a fuller complement of players from the Red Devils against Wigan. 

Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

For the Latics, this will be their toughest test of the preseason and final match before The Football League season begins. 

Veteran striker Grant Holt is expected to lead the line against the Red Devils, flanked closely by Shaun Maloney, James McArthur and James McLean. 

New manager Owen Coyle might be facing the same sort of struggles as his United counterpart Moyes is in taking over at a new club, but the level of expectations is vastly different. Not even preparing for England's highest level of club football, Coyle's men can just go out and play football. 

Alex Livesey/Getty Images

As noted by ESPN's Tony Brown, Coyle and the Latics really have nothing to lose. Moyes, on the other hand, is carrying the weight of a championship squad in his grasp and having to deal with an unhappy star, to boot. 

Just as Sevilla were on Friday, Wigan will be a dangerous opponent for United. Not only are they making their first appearance in the Community Shield, but strong preseason form has also left the club in a good position before The Football League season begins. 

Technically categorized as a preseason friendly, Wigan and United should put a few of their reservations about being competitive aside with a trophy on the line.

 

Player to Watch

Adnan Januzaj, Manchester United

Victor Fraile/Getty Images

With many of United's individual performances coming back disappointing against Sevilla, one Red Devil that did shine for a majority of the match was Adnan Januzaj. 

Only 18 years old, Januzaj was United's most consistent threat in making plays and setting up attackers for scoring chances on Friday. Active and impressive both finding running lanes and with the ball in his possession, Januzaj was the assist man on his club's lone goal. 

Beating a Sevilla defender to the end line and sliding a quick low ball to the box, Antonio Valencia made good on Januzaj's pass to give United life in the second half against the La Liga side. 

By all accounts, this young man has a bright future ahead of him with the Red Devils. Depending on how things shake out in the transfer window, that future could be right now. 

Wilfried Zaha is expected to help United produce more consistent results from the wing next season, but depending upon how the Rooney situation works out, Moyes might have no choice but to put his teenage wonder in the starting lineup on a regular basis. 

After his strong showing on Friday, it will be interesting to see what Januzaj does for an encore performance, particularly in tandem with the likes of Robin van Persie and Zaha expected to see the pitch earlier in Sunday's match.   

 

Prediction

Who wins?

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Manchester United face more pressure to win this than Wigan Athletic, but a shot at silverware will motivate both clubs equally.

With the EPL champions expected to let some of their stars loose in the first half and the upcoming season only one match out, I like the Red Devils to jump out early and hold on for a close victory to win the Community Shield. 

Manchester United 2, Wigan Athletic 1

 

Follow B/R's Ethan Grant (@DowntownEG) on Twitter. 

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