Wigan v Manchester United, Premier League, August 22, 2009
Both teams come into this match off the back of an opening day win followed by a surprise defeat in their second Premier League match of the 2009-10 campaign.
All eyes will be on Manchester United following their shock defeat at Turf Moor on Wednesday night. After winning three Premier League titles in succession, the departures of Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez coupled with two largely unconvincing displays to start off the league season mean the likes of Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal are smelling blood.
Sir Alex Ferguson’s sides have been written off before but a poor start to the new season could leave them playing catch up and a poor result at the DW Stadium could see Manchester United’s manager called upon to splash the cash.
After impressing in pre-season, Michael Owen (6/5 to score) has struggled once the season got going, missing a golden opportunity late on against Birmingham and then producing a weak performance at Turf Moor. The trouble for United is that Dimitar Berbatov (9/2 to score first) continues to look lackadaisical and despite claims that this would be his season, the taunts of Dimitar Veron could well be back in vogue.
As a result, much depends on Wayne Rooney (4/1 to score first) who in just two games of the Premier League season has shown his Jekyll and Hyde nature. The England striker scored the winner against Birmingham and although he was one of United’s better performers at Burnley, Rooney could well have been sent off late on for one of his trademark reckless challenges when the going gets tough.
Questions also have to be asked as to how Michael Carrick became United’s main penalty taker. It is always easy to question such decisions with 20/20 vision, but surely Rooney, Ryan Giggs or Anderson may have been a better bet?
Following the shock defeat at Burnley, Wigan will no doubt fancy their chances but it has also been a mixed start for Roberto Martinez and his side. A fine win at Aston Villa, which included a goal of the season contender from Hugo Rodallega (10/3 to score), looked to have been a fine platform for the season ahead, but a home defeat to Wolves has set back the Latics somewhat.
Wigan failed to show the energy against Mick McCarthy’s side that they had displayed at Villa Park and Martinez will be hoping for more from his attacking players. The Latics will get the ball down and with the likes of N’Zgobia and Jordi Gomez (11/2 to score), a United defence lacking Van der Sar, Ferdinand and Vidic will be tested.
Although the pundits will be talking up Wigan’s chances in the lead-up to this game and the home side have never beaten Manchester United since returning to the Premier League in 2005/2006.
Late on last season, United came back from 1-0 down to win 2-1 at the-then JJB. Carlos Tevez was widely credited with changing the game after coming on as a substitute and another defeat here will see many question why Ferguson let the Argentine battler and a certain Portuguese winger leave Old Trafford.
101gg predicts: Wigan 2 – Manchester United 2 (14/1)
Full match odds here.