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Manchester United vs Wigan Athletic: Match Preview

Following the midweek international break Manchester United are back in action against a lowly Wigan Athletic side who make the short trip to Old Trafford, with Latics boss Roberto Martinez hoping to spring a shock on Saturday after a poor United performance against Aston Villa last weekend.

They will have a mountain to climb though as United have won all 11 of their previous games against Wigan – ten Premier League matches and the 2006 League Cup final.

Despite such a commanding record and the fact that Wigan sit 17th in the Premier League, Sir Alex Ferguson is full of praise for his counterpart Martinez, ?”I think he gets the rewards by sticking to his philosophy,” said Sir Alex on Friday. ??

“He sticks by what he believes in and that’s good. It shows he has strong management and I think his players now believe in him too. ?

“There is a bit of inconsistency about them but they are capable. They beat Tottenham at their place, had a good result against West Brom and drew with Liverpool.

“There are surprise results coming about. We saw some evidence of that last season and it has been the same this season,” he added. ?

“People make a story about us being undefeated, but we’ve thrown points away, whereas last week we stole a point.”

United though may have to do without the services of Rio Ferdinand who came off against France due to a hamstring complaint. Ryan Giggs is also doubtful with a hamstring problem.

Defenders Chris Smalling and Rafael may also miss out with respective thigh and groin problems.

One moment of anticipation will be the return of Wayne Rooney, as it seems, according to Sir Alex he may be a substitute on Saturday.

“I don’t think he’ll start tomorrow,” Ferguson said.

“Maybe he will reach the bench. But he will certainly play on Wednesday against Rangers.”

The Wigan boss is a little wary over the return of Rooney and said: “You don’t want Wayne Rooney to come back against you.

“He is more than capable of getting back to his best level. How long it will take him, we don’t know.

“But when you talk about world-class players, they do not have to be 100 per cent to make an impact in any game. Wayne Rooney will do that when he plays.

“When you have his talent you don’t have to be 100 per cent fit or play well for 90 minutes to have an important role.”

“At the moment it is going to be as if he is a new player, a fresh player,” he added.

Whether or not Rooney plays is one thing, but Wigan will be without on-loan midfielder Tom Cleverley who is ineligible to face his parent club.

Other absentees for the away team will be Gary Caldwell, who could be out for up to six weeks with a thigh problem and Emmerson Boyce is also out with a muscle complaint.

Victor Moses could earn his first start since the opening day of the season after his match-winning strike against West Brom.

It looks as though Wigan will have a tough time against a still unbeaten United and a United side unbeaten in their opening 13 league matches for the first time in Premier League history.

Wigan have it all to do and won’t be helped by the fact they have only scored 10 league goals this season, and are the Premier League’s lowest scorers.

Prediction: 3-0 United

Probable Line Up: Van der Sar; O’Shea, Vidic, Ferdinand, Evra; Nani, Fletcher, Scholes, Obertan; Macheda, Berbatov