Writer: Barry Worthington
Date:Wednesday December 30 2009
Wigan Athletic play their last game of 2009 hoping that another voodoo can be laid to rest when they face Manchester United a team they have lost every encounter with.
Roberto Martinez says that Old Trafford holds no fear and that the Latics wont go and lie down, a similar display to the one against Chelsea earlier this season and he might just get some reward for his confident demeanour.
Latics will come face to face with old boy Antonio Valencia this evening and the speedy Ecuador international has settled well into life at Old Trafford though he was replaced in Sundays clash at Hull after failing to get the better of Hull defender Dawson, tonight he will be up against his good friend Maynor Figueroa.
Both sides need the points for different reasons, United chasing Chelsea at the top of the table whilst the Latics would like to put some breathing space between themselves and the bottom three.
Latics boss Roberto Martinez:
'We all know how good Manchester United's home form is, only a few teams are able to get a positive result, and sometimes you need things to go your way.
'From 11th down to 20th the league is very tight, I can't remember the Premier League being so close before.
'Any points can make a big difference to your position and that's why it's important that we are consistent with our level of performances, which will allow us to climb up the table.
'It's an exciting challenge that lies ahead for us going into the second-half of the season, there will be a lot of teams fighting for places.
'We've had one home game postponed which makes a huge difference; a win at the moment can move you up the table considerably, and a defeat can have the opposite effect, so in that sense it's not a clear indication of where you are.
'So it's important we stay realistic about the areas we need to improve in, and we reach a level of consistency that will make us competitive in every game we go into.'
United boss Sir Alex Ferguson:
'I know we have a good record against Wigan, but we have to respect the victories they have had against Aston Villa and Chelsea this season.
"They play football and that is the way Roberto Martinez wants them to play. He has a good philosophy, so it should be an entertaining match.
"But we're coming to that time of the season when the challenge is there. We've got a league that is so tight now.
'Teams are taking points off each other that you don't expect and it is tightening up the whole league.
"It means a consistent run from any team will give them a great chance'
United will see the return of both Scholes and Neville but Edwin van der Sar is on compassionate leave.
Man United probable:
Kuszczak, Neville, Vidic, Brown, Evra, Valencia, Fletcher, Scholes, Giggs, Rooney, Berbatov.
Without doubt Rooney is Uniteds main man and he is capable of winning a game on his own
Momo Diame is still struggling with a knee injury and unlikely to feature.
Kirkland, Melchiot, Bramble, Boyce, Figueroa, N'Zogbia, Scharner, Thomas, Gomez, Rodallega, Scotland
Little Charlie has been in excellent form so far this season and he poses Latics biggest threat going forward
Latics and United have met 12 times previously in all competitions and the result is:
United 12 wins, Latics 0, draws 0
Lee Mason (Bolton)
Meet the ref article can be read here
Heart says 1-1 draw
Head says 2-0 United win
Date:Wednesday December 30 2009
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