1. How do you make hard work out of beating Wigan? Change your team around and play everyone out of position. I was looking forward to a late Christmas present in the form of United blowing Wigan out of the water, like usual, then the manager had to go and spoil it all. Carrick, our best player of recent weeks, shifted in to defence. Valencia, playing with all the confidence in the world, forced to right back. Our best strike partnership dropped. Then he had to go and throw Gibson in to the mix. I was still confident of a win but I figured we would have to work harder for it. Then we play a blinder and I look like a spoilt little bastard for whinging. Thoroughly impressed with the performance and the result, even with the help of the first half sending off for Wigan.
2. From the stands, it looked like a red card. Having seen the replay, I’d think it was harsh if one of our lads got sent off for that. He did raise his hand to Carrick’s face and it was intentional but it wasn’t an elbow. However, Conor Sammon didn’t appear to be at all surprised and trudged off the pitch, which maybe tells you more about what his intentions were. Fair play to Carrick though for not making a song and dance about it an attempt to get him sent off.
3. I was obviously made up to see Dimitar Berbatov get his hattrick. He scored a lovely goal against Fulham last week and was clearly keen to carry on his good form. His first goal came from a Gisbon assist but his second was his best of the lot. He turned nicely on a Valencia pass and gave Al Habsi no chance. It was his third goal, the penalty, I was most impressed with though. Berba always seems to be lacking confidence and he is not a penalty taker. That woeful effort against Everton in the FA Cup years ago is still reason enough for some reds not to like him. Yet as soon as the penalty was awarded, he went for the ball and decided he was going to take it, despite Wayne Rooney being on the pitch. It was good to see that confidence and determination in him. Has he moved about Chicharito in pecking order now?
4. I do wonder what Park Ji-Sung had for breakfast with the way he was running all over the place, even more than usual. In the first half in particular, he was winning all the tackles, having attempts on goal and chasing the ball down. It was his best buddy and United skipper, Patrice Evra, who should take more of the credit for Park’s goal though, given how well he took on the Wigan defence to get an inch perfect cross in.
5. My favourite goal of the game was Antonio Valencia’s though, with him hitting the ball so hard both feet ended up off the ground. He’s really hit some great form over the past few weeks and it was nice to see that rewarded with a goal. It’s hard to believe he spent three seasons at lowly Wigan, considering how good he has become. He’s still only 26-years-old too.
6. Anders Lindegaard carried on his 100% record in between the sticks for United but didn’t have much to do. After a couple of early decent crosses from the wings, Wigan threatened little. We should remember that he tends to play against weaker opposition, which helps his ability to pick up cleansheet after cleansheet, but he is a top keeper and the manager is sensible to give him enough game time to keep him happy. Ahead of kick-off, he walks towards the Stretford End applauding the fans, before balling up his fists and shaking them. He loves being at this club and it’s good to see him doing well.
7. Ryan Giggs and Darron Gibson are hardly the “dream team” central midfield but they did well enough. Gibson didn’t catch any of his attempts on goal well enough, which I’m sure is more frustrating for him than it is the fans, and Giggs continues dropping his shoulder and skinning his man. You wouldn’t want this pairing for the big games but they did a job.
8. Fortunately Chris Smalling and Phil Jones’ absences were down to them feeling under the weather, not any long term injury, but Jonny Evans was forced off at half-time with a calf injury which will see him out for a fortnight. It’s starting to take the piss a little now but the manager is rotating the team well.
9. If we were City fans, we would say we were joint first, but we’re not, so we won’t. That seemingly insurmountable goal difference of City’s has been reduced to an advantage of five goals, thanks to our big wins against Fulham and Wigan. You’d like to think that come New Year’s Eve we will be top of the league with the possibility of having an even better goal difference than City…
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