A long list of injuries forced Manchester United into fielding a makeshift team against Wigan Athletic on Boxing Day. Valencia and Carrick were drafted in at right back and centre back respectively, meaning United were also stretched in the midfield as Gibson came into the side to partner Giggs in the centre of midfield.
Despite injury woes Manchester United continued their recent good form with a 5-0 thumping over Wigan. Dimitar Berbatov celebrated a rare appearance with a hat-trick whilst Park and Valencia both topped their own impressive performances off with a goal each.
Park and Valencia both had encouraging games as their energy on the pitch helped push the forwards on to give the Wigan defence a torrid day. United’s defence did not have too much to do against a struggling Wigan side and so were allowed to push forward as they boxed Wigan into their own half and held the majority of the possession.
At a time when United have to patch an unfamiliar team together it is refreshing to know they are not short of goal scorers, a point strengthened with a Berbatov hat-trick. The top scorer from last season has been short of appearances recently but proved he was ready to shine when handed his chance.
The first of Berbatov’s goals was the second of the day for United and was taken well. He flicked Darron Gibson’s cross over his head with his first touch before bringing the ball down and smashing it past Al Habsi who had moved off his line to close the poised Berbatov down.
If Berbatov had taken his first goal well his second was purely superb. Valencia ran the ball down the right flank before slipping the ball inside to Berbatov. A smooth turn from Berbatov took the ball round one defender before he poked it into the top of the Wigan goal leaving the defence reeling from a quick move.
Berbatov rounded off his hatrick and United’s scoring for the day with a coolly taken penalty after Park was felled. In typical Berbatov fashion he stepped up calmly and confidently. A deliberate hesitation in Berbatov’s run up had Al Habsi beat before the ball had been passed into the back of the net.
Whilst his manager may have a selection problem in the rest of the team due to a lack of players, Berbatov has given him a selection problem in his attackers due to many good performances. The forward has done all he can to be kept in contemplation for his manager’s future squad selections and following this performance will hopefully feature again in the near future.