Man United close gap on Chelsea and Arsenal with Wigan win
Manchester United moved level on points with Chelsea at the summit of the Premier League after a comfortable victory over Wigan Athletic at Old Trafford.
It proved a pleasing afternoon for Sir Alex Ferguson. Wayne Rooney was able to make his much-anticipated comeback in the second half and title rivals Arsenal and Chelsea both suffered defeats at the hands of Tottenham and Birmingham.
And the Scot will have enjoyed the comfortable manner of his side’s victory. Wigan rarely threatened Edwin van der Sar in the United goal except for an early chance during the opening exchanges when Jordi Gomez blasted his effort into the stands with the goal at his mercy.
It proved a harsh lesson for Roberto Martinez’s side as the visitors failed to manufacture any other opportunities of note for the remainder of the afternoon as they submitted to United’s dominance.
Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand held the defensive line superbly, neutralising the dangerous Hugo Rodallega who was devoid of any support apart from the sprightly Charles N’Zogbia.
After a straightforward 45 minutes the crucial opening goal came on the stroke of half time. Park Ji-Sung and Patrice Evra combined well for the French left-back to nod past Ali Al Habsi.
And any suggestion of a resurgence from the Latics was categorically ruled out when Wigan captain Antolin Alcaraz and Rodallega were both sent off in quick succession mid-way through the second half. Alcaraz walked for a second bookable offence while Rodallega’s two-footed lunge was greeted with an immediate dismissal by Martin Atkinson.
The match was wrapped up by a surperb diving header from substitute Javier Hernandez. The Mexican striker displayed great reflexes to meet Rafael’s cross and head past the Wigan goalkeeper.
Rooney’s introduction after 56 minutes was greeted by a relatively warm response from the United supporters and the England striker went close to adding to his side’s lead soon after. Both Evra and Rooney then spurned wonderful opportunities in the dying moments.
Speaking about Rooney’s return, Fergsuson said: “It was a good reception; it will be pleasing for him. It will settle him down and make him realise he is at the right club.
“It was a quiet comeback. He got involved in a few bits of the interplay. He needed 25 minutes or so.
“He will play against Rangers on Wednesday, that is the perfect game for him to come back and get 90 minutes.”