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Wigan Athletic vs. Manchester United (Kick-off 15.00 GMT, Jan. 1st)

Sir Alex Ferguson will take his high flying Manchester United side to the nearby JJB Stadium to take on Wigan Athletic on New Year’s Day as the wily old Scottish manager looks to consolidate his side’s lead at the top of the Premier League, which currently rests on seven points. Wigan are themselves in sparkling form, playing some of the best pure football in the country and although they hadn’t been winning matches, their 3-0 mauling of Aston Villa away from home at Villa Park on Boxing Day is sure to add some much needed confidence to the side.

United had to make hard work of their match against West Bromwich Albion at home, and had to bring Robin van Persie off the bench in the second half to finally secure the three points as the Dutchman scored a screamer of a goal late in the match to secure a 2-0 win. United were extremely poor in the second half and after taking a lead in the 10th minute, it seemed as if the Baggies would take a point or even three from the game and looked the side most likely to score in the second half.

Had it not been for some astute substitutions on the part of Manchester United’s Scottish manager, United could easily have slipped up in the match and handed Manchester City another few points in the title race as it heats up the New Year fast approaching. Traditionally, this is the time when United actually step into full gear but having had to come back from a goal down early in the match in so many games throughout the season that it seems to be starting to take a toll on the players.

And Fergie will know the match against Wigan will throw up a lot of challenges in front of his side, with Wayne Rooney still missing in action from the side and he will have to go with the strike pairing of van Persie and Mexican hot shot Javier Hernandez up front with England international Danny Welbeck slated to come in at some point in the game if the Red Devils manage to put the match in the bag early on.

Fergie will however, be pleased with the effort of skipper Nemanja Vidic as his side kept their first clean sheet in ages and will be looking for much of the same against Wigan.

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