Manchester United strolled to a 4-0 victory over Wigan Athletic recording their first clean sheet of the season and continuing the trend of summer signings scoring debut goals.
United lined up in a 4-4-1-1 formation with Welbeck sitting behind Chicharito up top, while Giggs, Carrick, Scholes and Nani marshalled midfield in front of Büttner, Vidic, Ferdinand and Rafael in defence. For the second game running, Sir Alex preferred Lindegaard to De Gea in goal – the ‘punishment’ for his mix up with Vidic against Fulham now far exceeding the crime.
The first half was a drab affair, punctured only by Danny Welbeck winning a penalty for the home side when he nudged the ball past the on rushing Al Habsi, who brushed him with the faintest of touches sending Welbeck sprawling for the very definition of a soft penalty decision. Justice was perhaps served when the resulting spot kick from Chicharito was saved by Al Habsi – an awful penalty at just the right height to be saved as long as the keeper guessed the right way.
Wigan were effective for the rest of the first half, keeping men behind the ball and defending as a compact unit, however the game changed after half time when United began to dictate the pace and play higher up the field.
United’s increased pressure paid off in the 50th minute as a low cross from the right from Nani was parried by Al Habsi into the path of Paul Scholes, who side-footed into an empty net to the relief of the Old Trafford crowd. Scholes, making his 700th apperance for the club, was excellent all afternoon.
Once United had the breakthrough, Wigan realised they needed to press forward and as a result, left themselves open to counter-attacks from the goal-hungry reds. Chicha managed to make amends for his penalty miss by widening the gap to two goals when he followed up a low driven cross from debutant Büttner to slot past Al Habsi who immediately appealed for off-side – not realising that Emerson Boyce had failed to push out with rest of the Wigan back four.
The United of last season may well have taken their foot off the gas at 2-0 and coasted to victory for the rest of the game, however, the United of 12/13 seemed determined to increase their lead. Büttner, not content with a debut assist, added a goal that he had no right to score as he powered past three Wigan defenders and blasted a shot at Al Habsi from a tight angle, only to see if deflect off the keeper into his own net. There was, of course, an element of luck to Büttner’s goal, but his attacking prowess is a promising, as is his desire to be part of every single United attack. Having watched him put in a man of the match performance in the XI’s loss to Stalybridge Celtic mid-week, i was looking forward to seeing him tested at a higher level, and offensively, he didn’t disappoint. His defensive positioning was suspect at times, but he is young, and there is time to coach that into him.
At 3-0 Sir Alex Ferguson decided to hand another home debut to Nick Powell, and bring Robin van Persie on for the last 20 minutes. Powell looked assured in possession, and again, willing to push on and get involved in attacking moves. His youthful exuberance was rewarded 8 minutes from time when a Scholes-esque drive from the edge of the box rattled into the net to make it 4-0.
On a day when Chelsea and Man City drew, the most pleasing aspect to United’s win in my eyes was the desire that was there to till the end of the game. I can only speculate that this is something the coaching staff are focusing on following the loss of the league last season by goal difference, but the change in attitude is noticeable, and, should it remain for the rest of the season, will stand us in a good position to avoid last years fate.