Temporarily, the season of goodwill to all men will stop on Boxing Day at 3pm, as United aim to make Wigan’s fight for survival a bit more difficult, and gain three points to keep the heat on at the top of the FA Premier League.
United are in their pomp at the moment, and in a rich vein of form that’s seeing the goals fly in, and Monday afternoon will be as good a time as any to keep mounting up that tally to improve the goal difference stats.
There’s always a special feeling at Old Trafford when it’s the Boxing Day game, however there are seven men who wont be there to feel it. Ashley Young, Rio Ferdinand, Tom Cleverley, Michael Owen, Anderson, Nemanja Vidic and Darren Fletcher are victims of the injury list that seems to have a new name on it every week, and will all miss the game. Young picked up a knee problem last week against Fulham, and he’s likely to be out for a few weeks.
As for Wigan, Chris Kirkland misses out again, as he continues to be the Owen Hargreaves of goalkeeping, and Steve Gohouri (flu) and Hugo Rodagella may not make it either. Rodagella picked up an injury against Chelsea last weekend, and featured against Liverpool on Wednesday but wsn’t fully fit.
The great news for United is that defender and all round man-beast Phil Jones should be available after it was revealed he only suffered a bruised and not a broken cheekbone at Fulham.
United are currently unbeaten in their last eight games, winning seven of them whilst they’re at it. A convincing 5-0 humiliation of Fulham on their travels last week wrapped up a victorious week in London, beating Queens Park Rangers just a few days earlier.
Wigan are impressive at the moment too. They play some good football, but haven’t been the best defensively for a while. However, digging in and putting solid performances in against Chelsea and Liverpool in the last couple of games have reaped rewards for the Latics. Sharing the points with both sides means that they picked up points that most people didn’t think they’d get, so confidence will be high in their visit to Old Trafford.
Boxing day fact:
We played Wigan Athletic on Boxing Day in 2006, United winning 3-1 at Old Trafford. That loss is the only Boxing Day defeat Wigan have suffered in the Premiership in six matches. United have played 17 Boxing Day fixtures, losing only one, and winning the last seven.
Man of the moment:
At long last, some of the fickle knives that a vociferous minority have been hacking away at Michael Carrick with in recent season’s are being kept in the draw, as his performances have played a key part in our current form.
People don’t like the lack of flair, the simple and effective approach or the sit-deep role that he is asked to play by our manager; and believe that a more hurried, just get it up the pitch like in Fifa 2012/Football Manager 2012 way is how the former Spurs man should play the game.
It’s been widely ignored by those same people that when Carrick plays, United barely concede goals. His job of sitting in front of the back four has been one of the reasons why opponents rarely get as many goals as we do, and why Rio Ferdinand hardly gets a yellow card as his job is made a hell of a lot easier by the work Michael Carrick does.
But his performances in the last few games, that haven’t been any different to what he normally does, has been received and understood by many doubters, and his goal at Loftus Road last week was a great reward for continuing to do his job properly when spectators have demanded he do something different.
I think Carrick will be one of the main men again on Monday afternoon, and his style of play will mean that Wigan won’t threaten our goal as much as they would want to, despite confidence being high. Our midfield might not have the flair, but it will have the industrious element to it that Michael Carrick controls.
In a game that Phil Dowd will be in charge of, I think that United’s form is too rich for relegation contenders Wigan to cope with. Two points from their last two games is more than they would have expected to get from the three, including their visit to us. I think that this is where they’ll run out of steam, and even if they give it a go at us, we’ll have the engine to ride out any storm they provide, and a flurry of late goals will see us beat the Latics quite convincingly.
With Christmas cheer still in the air, I think the celebrations for United fans will continue throughout Monday, with another three points on the board by 5.00pm.
Wherever you’re watching it, enjoy the game.
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