Wigan started the New Year with one of their worst performances of the season, ensuring Sir Alex Ferguson a late birthday present by gifting a Manchester United side four goals and not mustering a single shot on target with De Gea having the easiest afternoon of his fledgling Old Trafford career.
Roberto Martinez opted to make one change from the side that totally dominated Villa at the weekend, surprisingly replacing Jones with the more defensive minded McArthur. If this was with the aim of shackling their opposite numbers it didn’t work as Cleverley and Carrick had the run of midfield, ably supported by Van Persie who operated in a role just behind the pacy Hernandez.
It could have been a different story though but for the defensive errors, as the first twenty minutes was an even matched affair with very few chances for either side. Wigan’s passing was slow and methodical but lacked any penetration with Beausejour the only outlet and all too often the defenders found it easy to clear. Wigan’s only effort of note in the first half fell to Beausejour, when a pass found him racing onto the ball unmarked at the edge of the area but the Chilean shot way over the bar.
At the other end, Hernandez and Van Persie were linking well and stretching the Wigan back three and as the half went on United starrted to exert their dominance with Van Persie and Cleverley having efforts blocked and it seemed only a matter of time before United scored .The first goal when it came was not for the first time this season came from a set piece when a corner wasn’t cleared and Evra’s shot was only parried by Al Habsi and Hernandez fired home the opener.
Soon after it was two, when McArthur and Beausejour both went for the same ball on the half way line and in something reminiscent of a cartoon they both ended up on the floor and a quick through ball found Van Persie and with Ramis slipping , the Dutchman fired the ball past Al Habsi to re-enforce United’s control over the game.
WIgan huffed and puffed but with the team seemingly devoid of a creative player, too often balls were over hit or passed to a player in a red shirt and half time came with United deservedly two goals in front.
The second half brought an increase in the tempo from Wigan but very little change in terms of an end result although Kone thought he had reduced the deficit when he fired home from close range after good work by Di Santo only to be correctly called for offside.
That was it in terms of chances on target for Wigan and it was very sooon three when a clumsy challenge resulted in a Van Persie free kick and the ball hit the wall rebounded to Hernadez who reacted quicker than the Wigan defence and increased the lead.
Wigan brought on Gomez and Stam and looked more purposeful in attack if not in defence and Untied can consider themselves lucky to finish the game with eleven men when Kone was brought down and despite Smalling being clearly the last man, Mr Marriner opted to brandish a yellow card instead of a red.
With the game drifitng towards another poor defeat, the goal difference was further exacerbated when Beausejour and Boyce bumped into each other, the ball falling to Welbeck who passed to an unmarked Van Persie in the centre who had an easy tap in.
The full time whistle brought to an end a painful afternoon for both WIgan and their fans and the lack of efforts on target despite a significant amount of possession will be a worry to manager Martinez especially with top scorer Kone flying out to the African Cup of Nations this week.
Line up and Player Ratings
Al Habsi….6 not at fault for any of the goals.
Boyce…..5.5 tried hard not his day.
Caldwell….5 given a torrid time by Hernandez, withdrawn.
Ramis…..5 a bad day at the office.
Figueroa…..5, tried hard.
Beausejour….5 Poor in attack and defence.
McCarthy….5.5 Outclassed by the United midfield.
McArthur…..5, a poor performance but never stopped trying.
Maloney….6, tried hard but in vein.
Kone…..6, worked hard, too often offside.
Di Santo….6.5, ran hard all afternoon, withdrawn.
Gomez for Di Santo…..6 brought a creative spark to a game already lost.
Stam for Caldwell…..6 attacked well down the right wing.
McManaman for Maloney N/A
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