Manchester United vs. Wigan Athletic  4 - 0

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Premier League: Manchester United 4 Wigan 0

15 September 2012 18:19

Manchester United have defeated Wigan Athletic 4-0 in a pulsating Premier League clash at Old Trafford on Saturday.

Javier Hernandez had a fourth-minute penalty saved by Ali Al Habsi after the goalkeeper was adjudged to have brought down Danny Welbeck, but a Paul Scholes close-range effort, a strike from Hernandez and debut goals from Alexander Buttner and Nick Powell, all in the second-half, were the difference.

It was a day of landmarks for three of Sir Alex Ferguson's men as Ryan Giggs made a record 600th Premier League appearance, while Scholes and Rio Ferdinand played their 700th and 400th match for the club.

Robin van Persie and Shinji Kagawa started on the bench as they were nursing knocks picked up on international duty.

United should have been 1-0 up inside the first five minutes when the on-rushing Welbeck was clipped by Al Habsi in the area. Replays suggested it was a harsh decision and the goalkeeper did well to save Hernandez's weak effort.

The visitors held their own in the first half but Welbeck was proving dangerous up front for the hosts.

He had four chances in the opening 25 minutes. His first was a volley which just went wide and left Al Habsi stranded, before another effort was blocked by Gary Caldwell.

From the resulting corner, Scholes and Welbeck had further volleys blocked and the England international then headed over from a Michael Carrick cross.

Wigan nearly scored with a header of their own when Shaun Maloney whipped in a free-kick from the right and Ivan Ramis rose highest but failed to keep the ball down.

Emmerson Boyce almost capitalised on an advantage played by referee Michael Oliver. He was caught from behind by Giggs but managed to bounce back up and shoot just wide.

After reaching half-time on level terms, the second-half proved a step too far for Wigan as the floodgates opened.

Scholes finished just inside the six-yard area following a bout of pinball in the box. The visitors just could not get the ball clear and the landmark-celebrating midfielder was on hand to rifle home past Al Habsi on 51 minutes.

Twelve minutes later and it was 2-0 when Hernandez atoned for his first-half penalty miss, helping in Buttner's cross from what initially looked like an offside position. A second look saw Maynor Figueroa keeping him on.

Buttner deserved a goal for his lung-bursting runs down the left-hand side and one of those runs finally paid off.

He beat three Wigan defender's for pace before side-stepping Ramis. The ball almost went out of play on the byline but instead of letting it go out, he smashed it across the face of the goal and it bounced of Al Habsi and into the goal.

The best of the goals was the fourth and final goal of the game and what a way to introduce yourself.

Welbeck burst into the Wigan box and ended up in a dead-end. The ball should have been cleared but ended up at the feet of Hernandez, who laid-off to Powell on the edge of the area. The former Crewe man took a touch before rifling home from 20 yards on 82 minutes to cap off a thumping win.

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Kagawa, Van Persie fit to play Wigan

14 September 2012 14:45

Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson says Robin van Persie and Shinji Kagawa are both available for the visit of Wigan Athletic.

Kagawa had been a doubt with a back problem after opting to sit out Japan's 1-0 win over Iraq on Tuesday and was not expected to be risked this weekend after having scans, but the midfielder appears to have recovered.

Van Persie too was a doubt after being withdrawn at half-time of the Netherlands' World Cup qualifier against Hungary, however Ferguson said he has a full squad to pick from, except for long-term absentees.

"On the injury front, everyone's fit, apart from the ones we know about - (Phil) Jones and (Chris) Smalling," he said.

"Jones was a bad blow for us. He got an injury in training last weekend.

"He'll be out for 8-10 weeks. We expect Smalling to be back training inside a month. But with Jonny Evans now back we're in better shape at centre-back than we were a couple of weeks ago."

Several players, including Kagawa, have returned to United after travelling long distances, but Ferguson is hopeful they will all be fine for the match.

"You always have concerns about players travelling (long distances) in international breaks - we had Chicharito (Javier Hernandez), (Antonio) Valencia and Kagawa.

"They've all done it before, although with Shinji we don't know exactly how he reacts to travelling back from long distances. Hopefully he'll be okay."

Another player who will be available is Darren Fletcher, who has not played a competitive match for United since December due to a chronic bowel condition.

After several reserve-team appearances and increased activity in training, Ferguson has named him in the squad.

"Darren's training well and played in the reserves on Monday night," he said.

"The next step is when we can involve him in a game in the first team.

"He's in the squad tomorrow, simply because I think it will give him a boost. It's a chance to progress.

"At this moment in time everything's going fine for him. We understand the condition he has to deal with - that can change but hopefully he's managed to conquer it in terms of his diet and how he handles it.

"Things are going well at the moment."

Article

Premier League preview: Manchester United v Wigan

13 September 2012 09:23

Manchester United host Wigan on Saturday but they could be without key duo Robin Van Persie and Shinji Kagawa.

Van Persie limped off at half-time after suffering a suspected thigh injury during the Netherlands' 4-1 World Cup qualifying win against Hungary on Tuesday.

Dutch coach Luis Van Gaal played down the injury after the match.

"We took off Robin for precautionary measures," he said.

"It doesn't seem to be too serious, but you never know. We didn't want to take any risks."

Van Persie has been in lethal form for United, netting four goals in three matches, and any potential injury would be a blow to Sir Alex Ferguson given Wayne Rooney is facing another week or two on the sidelines.

Meanwhile, Kagawa was forced to withdraw from Japan's World Cup qualifier against Iraq.

The attacking midfielder felt pain in his lower back and suffered spasms during a training session ahead of the match and now faces a race against time to face Wigan at Old Trafford.

United have been far from their best during the early parts of the season but two wins on the bounce against Southampton and Fulham means they are only two points behind leaders Chelsea.

However, Ferguson's troops face a difficult encounter against a much-improved Wigan side, who are unbeaten in their last two league matches.

Wigan had conceded 21 goals in five games without scoring before breaking that drought with a 1-0 win at The DW Stadium in April.

That victory helped maintain Wigan's status in the Premier League and they make the trip to Manchester with a number of players in good form.

Former Chelsea striker Franco Di Santo is enjoying a productive spell and he has two goals to his name this season.

The Argentine's form has been lauded by manager Roberto Martinez, who believes the marksman is ready to make the step up to international football.

"I think Franco can be a massive striker for Argentina," he said.

"He has always had that potential but it’s the way he put all the parts of his game together in the last four months of last season that has really been so impressive."

Captain Ali Al Habsi continues to stake his claim as one of the Premier League's elite goalkeepers after producing another inspiring performance against Stoke, which ended 2-2.

Speedster Arouna Kone has helped fill the gap left by Victor Moses, who joined Chelsea for an undisclosed fee.

Prior to April's shock defeat, United had won six succussive Premier League games on their travels to Wigan.

Premier League table

# Team MP D P
1 38 +43 89
2 38 +32 78
3 38 +36 75
4 38 +35 73
5 38 +20 72
6 38 +15 63
7 38 +28 61
8 38 -4 49
9 38 -4 46
10 38 -8 46
11 38 -17 44
12 38 -10 43
13 38 -11 42
14 38 -11 41
15 38 -22 41
16 38 -23 41
17 38 -13 39
18 38 -26 36
19 38 -30 28
20 38 -30 25