Manchester United strolled to an easy 4-0 victory against a lack-lustre Wigan Athletic side who never really looked capable of taking any points away from the fixture.
Sir Alex made five changes to the team that beat West Brom recalling Rafael, Ferdinand, Giggs, Hernandez and van Persie to a lineup that also included De Gea in goal, Evra and Evans in defence, and Young, Carrick and Cleverley across midfield.
Whilst initially worried that Ferguson had deployed the ageing Giggs on the left wing, as if we’d just celebrated the millenium again rather than 2013, my worries turned out to be without foundation as the Welshman actually played well, and didn’t drift in-field quite as much game as he has tended to do when deployed wide in the last few years. When he did drive through the middle, Cleverley picked up his left wing position seamlessly, meaning the shape of the team remained intact.
It was in fact, Giggs who provided the first chance of the game with a whipped ball forward which Hernandez controlled expertly on his chest and then dispatched past Ali Al Habsi before the whistle went to signal the Mexican striker had strayed offside in the build up.
Most of United’s pressure came from working down either wing, with Rafael particularly impressive in combination with Ashley Young on the right. There’s no doubt that Wigan’s 3-4-3 formation afforded him extra space to run into, but he was a cut above the rest all game, and looked dangerous from every attack.
United took the lead after 35 mins as Cleverley and Evans combined on the left hand side to supply Patrice Evra in the box. Evra mis-hit his shot but then struck the rebound back towards goal with Al Habsi only able to palm it away along the 6 yard line. Hernandez reacted quickest, and stuck the ball away for his 11th goal of the season in all competitions.
United were two nil up after 43 minutes as Carrick fed Hernandez on the right, and his cross found Robin van Persie. I’m not sure what made me do it, but looking down from behind the goal in the rocking away end, i watched van Persie rather than the ball the minute Hernandez picked it up on the right, and his stop-start weaving run had Ivan Ramis chasing his shadow even before his superb control and shimmy bought him the extra space to curl it into the far side of the net. He really is an incredibly exciting player to watch, even off the ball with his intelligent runs, and especially given his desire to work back into midfield to regain possession.
After half time Wigan had a goal correctly disallowed for offside after a fortunate deflection led to a Di Santo cross which Kone stuck home. In truth this was the exception not the rule though as United were still dominating midfield, and creating many of their own chances.
The third goal came after 63 minutes as a van Persie freekick hit the wall, and Hernandez was first to react once again, striking it past Al Habsi from the just inside the area. The most pleasing part of this goal however came off the pitch as Wigan’s drummer decided enough was enough, and with just under a third of the game to go, packed up his drum and went home to a chorus of ‘cheerio’.
Lucky for us that Wigan had failed to find the net while he could be bothered to stay, lest we be forced to suffer the horrific goal music and drum combination that was foisted upon us last season.
Van Persie wrapped up the scoring in the 88th minute as a defensive mixup from Wigan let Danny Welbeck in behind them to square for a tap in.
United should be pleased with their performance which was dominant in every facet of the game. Rafael was particularly impressive, Carrick once again continued his world-class run of form, and with a brace a piece for Hernandez and van Persie, it was more than just the incredibly cheap drinks that saw United’s following head home happy.
GIF: Javier Hernandez makes it 1-0 here
GIF: Robin van Persie makes it 2-0 here
GIF: Javier Hernandez makes it 3-0 here
GIF: Robin van Persie makes it 4-0 here
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