United take on Wigan this Saturday and it`s a rarity for us, a 15:00 hours kick-off. United will be looking to make it three Premier League wins on the trot after seeing off Fulham and Southampton following the opening fixture loss at Goodison Park against Everton.
Ahead of what should be a highly entertaining clash, the Wigan boss, Roberto Martinez, has taken time out to talk about a player he knows very well having had him under his tutorship whilst on laon to Wigan, Tom Cleverley, with the respected Spaniard remarking,
“I always said that technically and tactically Tom wasn`t a normal player in this country.”
“He could easily fit into the Dutch way of playing and also has the ability of the Spanish side.”
“He is a real example of someone who has the talent but just needs the platform and direction to be allowed to express himself.”
“In Holland, Spain or Portugal they encourage the technical players. Here we encourage them to work hard and tackle better.”
“Only the boys who are really mentally special can cope with that during their development years.”
“He has got mental strength to go out and play and that is the difference.”
“We have players like that in the British game. It kills me when people say they are not technically gifted. We just need to encourage them.”
Some kind words indeed, but don`t go easy on Wigan Tom!
United Team News:
Sir Alex Ferguson enters this fixture with a growing injury list. Definitely out are Wayne Rooney, Chris Smalling, Ashley Young and Phil Jones whilst there are doubts over Robin Van Persie and Shinji Kagawa who picked up knocks whilst on international duty.
Ahead of the game the inference, from one tabloid paper, is that Alex Buttner might get the nod over Patrice Evra. Elsewhere, Sir Alex will have to decide who he prefers in goal. Does he give the green jersey back to David De Gea after preferring Anders Lindegaard for the trip to Southampton, or does he stick with the Dane.
A surprise announcement, made this morning by Sir Alex Ferguson, heralds the return of Darren Fletcher to the squad, hopefully, the Scotsman has emerged from the injury / illness that has dogged his career in recent times.
Player to watch: Tom Cleverley
Young Tom didn`t do himself justice against Ukraine in midweek, for England, so he`ll be itching to get the United midfield purring against Wigan.
Wigan Team News:
Roberto Martinez beings his squad to Old Trafford with injury concerns over some of his squad. Jean Beausejour picked up a hamstring knock against Stoke City, Antolin Alcaraz picked up a muscle problem on international duty whilst young James McArthur is hoping to shake off a back injury.
Missing from the Wigan squad will be one familiar face, that of Victor Moses who moved to Chelsea in the summer and also that of Hugo Rodallega who moved to Fulham.
Player to watch: Arouna Kone
Signed in the summer this Ivorian, from the glimpses I`ve seen of him in action, has the potential to be a top striker. If our centre backs make any errors they can be expected to be punished.
Match Facts & Stats
United`s form against Wigan has just the one blip; that defeat back in April that contributed to us losing the title to Manchester City. Prior to that Wigan had lost al 14 meetings against United (in League and Cup)
The last seven league games at Old Trafford, between the two teams, have seen United net 24 times with Wigan managing just 1.
The men in charge are:-
Referee – M. Oliver
Assistants – S. Ledger and M. Scholes
Fourth Official – P. Dowd
Wigan at home should be considered a home banker, even more so when you consider the results between the two clubs since Wigan established themselves as a Premier League club. But Roberto Martinez has transformed the club and last season they finished with a strong run that saw then derail our own title hopes. Thankfully, I don`t expect them to do something similar this time around although the result could be a lot closer than some imagine. I`m going 2-1 to United.
Our next Premier League fixture sees us travel down the road to take on Liverpool at Anfield, although there is the small matter of the Champions League in midweek to consider.