Premier League: Wigan v Man Utd

Nemanja Vidic

Fit-again Vidic: crucial in defence

Relegation-threatened Wigan will be aiming for just a third home victory of the season when they face Premier League leaders Man Utd at the DW Stadium on New Year’s Day (3pm GMT, Tuesday).

Wigan snapped a run of six matches without victory with a comfortable 3-0 win away to Aston Villa on Saturday, a result that moved them out of the bottom three for the first time since the beginning of December.

The Latics are now 16th in the Premier League table with 18 points from five wins, three draws and 12 defeats.

It was an excellent performance from Roberto Martinez’s men, who defended well, were neat and tidy in possession and also displayed an edge in the final third that has not always been present so far this season.

Arouna Kone scored his sixth goal of the campaign and also provided his fifth assist with the pass for Emerson Boyce’s goal. Signed for just £2.9 million from Spanish side Levante, he has already matched the goal and assist totals achieved by Victor Moses last season and is looking like a good piece of business.

The main problem for Martinez has been in finding a reliable partner for Kone. Franco Di Santo has continued his gradual improvement as a footballer, but after an early season flurry of three goals in his first six matches has failed to find the back of net since early October. Jordi Gomez has chipped in with three goals, but otherwise Wigan lack regular scorers.

This deficiency often produces results that belie the team’s performance. Only five of Wigan’s 12 defeats this season have been by more than one goal, showing that they are usually a decent match for their opponents and with a little extra decisiveness in front of goal could be a lot further up the table.

Martinez’s 3-4-3 formation gives Wigan plenty of options in possession. They have a good mix of invention, pace and power and play some very attractive football. The problem is that there is rarely the end product to match their approach play, something that needs to be addressed in the second half of the season if they are to avoid the drop again.

Manchester United have had no such problems in front of goal and increased their haul for the season to 50 (more than double Wigan’s total) during a comfortable 2-0 win at home to West Bromwich Albion on Saturday.

It was a result that extended United’s unbeaten run to eight matches and maintained their seven point advantage over local rivals City at the top of the Premier League table. The Red Devils currently have 49 points to their credit from 16 wins, one draw and three defeats.

Scoring goals has clearly been their primary strength. Robin Van Persie upped his personal total to 14 with a superbly taken last minute strike against West Brom, but while he and Wayne Rooney lead the way, goals have been coming from all corners of United’s squad.

United have had 15 different scorers so far this season, in addition to three own goals. There has been a great variety to their goals, with a noticeably improved output from set-pieces. They already have 15 goals from dead balls this season in comparison to 18 in the whole of last season.

While it has been their offensive capabilities that have most impressed most this season, it was United’s defence that shone brightest against West Brom, thanks in no small part to the return of Nemanja Vidic.

Vidic has been eased back into action in recent weeks following a period of nearly three months on the sidelines due to a knee injury. His importance was made clear by the manner in which he organised an oft-porous back four into a solid unit, constantly communicating with goalkeeper David de Gea and his defensive colleagues.

In the matches Vidic has taken part in this season United have conceded a goal per match on average. In the matches he has missed, United have conceded 1.62 goals per match. This is the difference between having one of the best or one of the worst defences in the league. A fit, in form Vidic could indeed be the difference between United winning the title or not.

Wigan v Man Utd Betting Tips

United triumphed 4-0 when these two sides met at Old Trafford earlier in the season. Although the margin of victory is unlikely to be as comfortable this time around, they are still favourites against an attractive Wigan side who unfortunately lack a clinical touch in front of goal.

  • Back United to win @ best odds of 4/7 with BetVictor or Pinnacle.
  • United have come out of the blocks quickly away from home on numerous occasions so far this season, scoring before the 24th minute in six of their 10 away matches to date. Wigan have conceded before the 35th minute in six of their 10 home matches, leading us to suggest backing the time of the 1st away goal (Man Utd) to be before the 38th minute @ 5/6 with BetVictor.