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Discussion Starter #1

Old Trafford
Tuesday, 26 December
Kick-off: 1500 GMT, 2030 IST, 2300 HKT

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Wayne Rooney was left out of the starting line-up against Aston Villa because of a family bereavement but could return against Wigan.

Michael Carrick (ankle) is out but he could return for the next game.

Wigan boss Paul Jewell has no fresh injury worries to contend with, but he is still without seven players.

Henri Camara, Andy Webster, Antonio Valencia, Paul Scharner, Steve McMillan and Ryan Taylor are injured, while Lee McCulloch is suspended.


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Man Utd (from): Van der Sar, Neville, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra, Ronaldo, Scholes, Fletcher, Park, Saha, Giggs, Kuszczak, Brown, Rooney, O'Shea, Silvestre, Heinze, Solskjaer, Richardson.

Wigan (from): Kirkland, Jackson, Hall, Kilbane, Cywka, Johansson, Landzaat, Heskey, Boyce, Cotterill, Skoko, Baines, De Zeeuw, Wright, Todorov, Teale, Pollitt.



MANCHESTER UNITED
spent Christmas Day at the top of the table for a record 16th time. On the first six occasions they followed up by winning the title, but have failed to do so on seven of the last nine. Sir Alex Ferguson's side have won the Premiership crown, having been top at Christmas twice (1993-94 and 2000-01). They will need at least a point against Wigan to regain the League leadership, if Chelsea beat Reading in one of Boxing Day's early kick offs.

The Red Devils have only dropped two points out of the last 18 at Old Trafford, when held to a 1-1 draw by Chelsea. Arsenal are the only club to have beaten them at the Theatre of Dreams in 25 Premiership engagements, winning 19.

United romped to a 4-0 victory in their first ever meeting with Wigan, in this corresponding fixture last season. Twelve days later, they put another four past the Latics without reply, in the Carling Cup final. Wigan are one of three League opponents United have a 100% record against. The others are Crewe and York.

WIGAN ATHLETIC are going through their worst slump of the season of three successive defeats (v Arsenal, Sheffield United and Chelsea - all at home). They've only once lost in excess of three consecutive matches in the Premier League - that being five on the spin between 19 November and 14 December last year.

The Latics have won three away matches in this Premiership season, and all three victories have come in their last five outings (0-1 at Fulham on 28 October, 0-1 at Bolton on 4 November and 0-2 at West Ham on 6 December).

Paul Jewell's side have lost all three Premiership matches against Manchester United, with an aggregate of 2-9.


REFEREE
Mike Riley (Leeds, Yorkshire)
 

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now Chelsea finally dropped some points again its time for us to grab those points and hold the lead! Common u reds!
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Match Report

Manchester United 3 - 1 Wigan Athletic


Substitute Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice in four minutes as Manchester United extended their lead at the top of the Premiership to four points.

Ronaldo came on at the break and headed United in front with his first touch before scoring a rebound after Chris Kirkland parried his penalty.

The spot-kick was awarded after Gary Teale fouled Ji-Sung Park.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer then finished with his right foot before Leighton Baines scored a late penalty for Wigan.


United took to the field for the match shortly after rivals Chelsea had been held at home to Reading.

It was a very different United side to that which defeated Aston Villa on Saturday - with Ronaldo, Rio Ferdinand, Louis Saha, Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs either omitted completely or relegated to the bench.


Nonetheless, the home team set about their work with great intensity and were soon peppering Kirkland's goal.

Park cut inside from the left flank and shot narrowly wide after three minutes, while Rooney came within inches of scoring shortly afterwards.

The striker seemed certain to convert Wes Brown's low, powerful cross but the ball struck Kirkland and slowly dribbled goalwards.

Kirkland scrambled after the ball and eventually cleared the danger while a disbelieving Rooney appealed in vain that it had crossed the line.

The Latics keeper later saved from Mikael Silvestre and saw a Rooney strike flash just wide of his goal.

Rooney, who played with great conviction, collected a Darren Fletcher through ball just after the half-hour mark and shot across goal on the turn - his effort missing by inches.

But United's play had become increasingly fractured as Wigan did a reasonable job of stymieing their opponents - and the home crowd fell silent as the first half wore on.

They almost had something to cheer just before the break but Kirkland held on to Solskjaer's diving header.

Ferguson's decision to introduce Ronaldo for Fletcher paid dividends within two minutes of the restart when the Portugal international headed home Paul Scholes' corner.

Ronaldo was left completely unmarked to score his ninth goal of the season.

And Ronaldo struck again four minutes later, stroking the ball home after Kirkland parried his initial penalty kick.

Teale, guilty of the crude hack that led to the penalty, was withdrawn minutes later as Old Trafford found its voice - the United supporters celebrating an extension of United's lead at the top of the Premiership.

Solskjaer latched on to a Rooney header and tucked the ball across goal and into the bottom corner to further add to the party atmosphere.

Matt Jackson almost pulled a goal back for Wigan but directed his header straight at Edwin van der Sar before the luckless Rooney hit the crossbar at the other end from 12 yards.

Wigan scored their consolation goal with virtually the last kick of the game, Baines drilling his penalty down the middle of the goal after Silvestre had fouled David Wright.



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Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson:
"I had a feeling he would change the game.
"We needed a quick response to what happened in the first half and Cristiano is in such great form, it was an obvious move.

"He lit up the crowd and got us two goals, which is just what we were looking for."



Wigan manager Paul Jewell:
"You cannot give any of the top teams free goals. That is two games in a row - Chelsea and Man Utd - where we have conceded from a corner.
"The disappointing thing is not that we have lost but the manner in which we conceded the goals.

"We were always going to be up against it but at least we showed a bit of spirit and got a goal."




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Man Utd:
Van der Sar, Brown, Vidic, Silvestre, Evra (Heinze 70), Fletcher (Ronaldo 46), O'Shea, Scholes (Richardson 62), Park, Solskjaer, Rooney.
Subs Not Used: Kuszczak, Saha.

Goals: Ronaldo 47, 51, Solskjaer 59.

Wigan:
Kirkland, Boyce, Jackson, Hall (Skoko 60), Baines, Teale (Cotterill 52), Johansson, Wright, Kilbane, Todorov, Heskey.
Subs Not Used: Pollitt, Landzaat, Cywka.

Goals: Baines 90 pen.

Att: 76,018. <--- NEW CLUB & PREMIERSHIP RECORD

Ref: M Riley (W Yorkshire).
 

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Discussion Starter #6
An excellent second half, marred only by the needless penalty given away in the very last minute of the match. Silvestre should have known better. Oh well, 'tis the season to be jolly, eh?

I'm extremely glad that 20LEgend scored yet another goal for us. Unlucky evening for Wayne Rooney, especially after his shot rebounded off the cross bar.
 
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