Three And Easy
Manchester United will not be short of confidence for the visit of Wigan Athletic. The reigning champions? 3-0 demolition of Chelsea at the weekend saw them make up ground on the league leaders Liverpool, and another win will take them up to second, ominously just two points behind Rafael Benitez's men
Wednesday?s game is the first of the Red Devils? games in hand and a win on Wednesday followed by another on Saturday at Bolton Wanderers could see Sir Alex Ferguson?s men top the Premier League table by the time Liverpool are next in action.
The European champions have never lost to Wigan, and cruised to a 4-0 win against Steve Bruce?s men at Old Trafford last season.
They also have fond memories of the return fixture which they won 2-0 on the final day of last season, a result that crowned them Premier League champions for the second successive season.
However, Wednesday?s visitors to Old Trafford are one of the Premier League?s most in-form sides.
The Latics have won their last four league games on the bounce, a superb run that has seen them move up to seventh place in the table.
Wigan boss Steve Bruce has admitted it is a delight to manage his side at the moment and has demanded a strong performance at Old Trafford so his players can prove they deserve their lofty league position.
Bruce?s men have never been higher than their current position in the Premier League, and they have also never beaten one of the top four, a record their boss will be hoping to end at a club where he spent nine years as a player.
Jan 11: Manchester United 3-0 Chelsea
Jan 07: Derby 1-0 Manchester United
Jan 04: Southampton 0-3 Manchester United
Dec 29: Manchester United 1-0 Middlesbrough
Dec 26: Stoke City 0-1 Manchester United
Jan 11: Wigan Athletic 1-0 Tottenham Hotspur
Jan 02: Tottenham Hotspur 3-1 Wigan Athletic
Dec 28: Bolton Wanderers 0-1 Wigan Athletic
Dec 26: Wigan Athletic 2-1 Newcastle United
Dec 13: Wigan Athletic 3-0 Blackburn Rovers
Manchester United have defensive problems with both Patrice Evra and Rio Ferdinand out injured, meaning John O?Shea and Jonny Evans will continue to deputise.
Possible Starting XI: Van der Sar, Neville, Vidic, Evans, O?Shea, Ronaldo, Anderson, Carrick, Scholes, Rooney, Berbatov
Steve Bruce is expected to stick with the same starting XI that defeated Tottenham Hotspur last time out.
Possible Starting XI: Kirkland, Melchiot, Scharner, Bramble, Figueroa, Valencia, Palacios, Cattermole, Taylor, Heskey, Zaki.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Manchester United ? Cristiano Ronaldo
Cristiano Ronaldo looked back to his very best against Chelsea at the weekend, which spells bad news for Wigan Athletic.
After picking up the FIFA World Player of the Year award on Monday night he will be keen to celebrate - and possesses an excellent record against the Latics.
The Portuguese star hit three goals against Wigan last season, including a double at Old Trafford, and will be hoping for more of the same.
Wigan Athletic ? Ryan Taylor
Ryan Taylor is becoming an increasingly influential member of Steve Bruce?s side and is enjoying a rich vein of form.
He has already weighed in with a couple of goals and also provided the corner from which Maynor Figueroa headed Wigan?s stoppage-time winner against Spurs last time out.
He is a danger at set-pieces, particularly free-kicks, and he could be the man to provide the ammunition to the Wigan front two.
Whilst United will be flying following their comprehensive defeat of Chelsea, they are coming up against an in-form Wigan who will fancy their chances of finally getting one over one of the top four.
However, the Red Devils will know that Sunday?s result will mean little if they fail to take all three points on Wednesday night.
Although Wigan will surely prove a much tougher opponent that Chelsea, the temptation of moving up to second should ensure the Red Devils do not slip up.
Manchester United 2-0 Wigan Athletic