Manchester United-Wigan Athletic Preview
LONDON (SE) - Sir Alex Ferguson may ring in the New Year by ringing in some changes for Manchester United in Tuesday's visit to the DW Stadium to face Wigan Athletic.
United ended 2012 with a seven-point lead atop the Premier League over Manchester City with one draw and two victories during the holiday programme. This match is the club's fourth in 10 days, and Ferguson has indicated he will again alter his starting XI.
"The game on Tuesday at Wigan is going to be a difficult game away from home, I'll get a few players I'll freshen up with," Ferguson said.
Defender Patrice Evra says that he wants to play the full 90 for the fourth straight match. He's keen to avenge a 1-0 defeat at the DW Stadium last year. That remains the Latics' only victory against the Red Devils, having lost the other 15 meetings.
"Wigan is an important game, I remember we lost 1-0 last season but didn't show anything," Evra told Manchester United's official website. "It was a really bad performance and that's why we don't have an excuse this time."
Ferguson made five changes from Wednesday's 4-3 victory over Newcastle United for Saturday's 2-0 win over West Bromwich Albion. He brought in Robin van Persie in the 66th minute, and the Netherlands international scored his league-leading 14th goal for the final margin.
"He (Van Persie) changed the game for us,'' Ferguson said. "When I brought him and Paul Scholes, on they settled the game down for us.''
Ferguson remains without Wayne Rooney, who is out with a knee injury. Javier Hernandez, Ryan Giggs and Rio Ferdinand all sat out against West Brom.
Wigan Athletic moved out of the relegation zone with Saturday's 3-0 victory at Aston Villa. The Latics were winless in six before Ivan Ramis, Emmerson Boyce and Arouna Kone all were on target.
Roberto Martinez's side are in 16th place on 18 points.
"We've been in this situation time after time," Martinez said. "We know the fight continues and we've got the second half of the season to be consistent with results. If anything this season we've been very consistent in our performances but until we get 40 points, you can't celebrate anything."
Wigan played well in defeats to Everton and Arsenal before taking advantage of a Villa side that has been outscored 15-0 over three straight matches.
"I feel that the performance we had against Arsenal and Everton was very similar to the one that we had today," Martinez said. "And that was very important, that we were able to maintain the level even when you get the little bit of disappointment of not getting the three points."
United had four different goal scorers in a 4-0 victory over Wigan at Old Trafford on Sept. 15. Ferguson did not start van Persie, Antonio Valencia, Evra and goalkeeper David De Gea in that contest.
Martinez does not expect any such favours at the DW.
"I think we need to reach our best level and try to look at every game as a great opportunity and a great challenge to get points," Martinez said.