City were expected to be run away favourites following the 6-1 defeat in the derby, but slowly we have chipped away at their lead and we now sit behind them in the table on goal difference.
Performances like this and the one against Fulham are what the fans have craved, often we have ground out results or created tons of chances only to win 1-0. But recently we have played good football, created chances and finished them off.
It appears we have gotten over the hangover of that disappointing loss to Man City, and with the second half of the season coming up the rest of the league must be more than a bit worried.
The team against Wigan was a team created out of our continuing injury problems. Jonny Evans was our only fit recognised CB and was partnered by Michael Carrick. Valencia played at RB whilst the likes of Park, Berbatov and Gibson got rare starts.
Wigan must have been slightly enthused seeing the starting line up, but come final whistle will have learned that though the players may be different the spirit of the team and the club remains.
Here are 5 thoughts on the game:
The striker hit a hat trick yesterday and will have put himself firmly into Sir Alex’s thoughts but with Rooney, the young and talented Danny Welbeck and the ever dangerous Javier Hernandez all ahead of him it appears he will have to wait for the scraps.
His contract is nearly up and whilst Sir Alex said the club can and most likely will exercise their right to one more year, will Berbatov be content with another year of this?
In terms of his goals they were all impressive, the use of his body and strength for the first, the turn and finish for the second and calm almost arrogance of the third. They show he is still a player with a lot to offer and perhaps another club will benefit from his talents.
The average ABU fan will tell you that everything goes our way in terms of decisions, especially at Old Trafford, and yesterday will do little to dispel that notion.
Phil Dowd’s sending off of Sammon was a flash point in the game, and whilst I am under no illusion that the result would have been the same, it severely handicapped Wigan.
Even the penalty decision is being contested as some feel Alcaraz’s impediment took place outside the box (the line is counted as inside the box).With that said, I feel we could have had at least 2 penalties as Javier Hernandez too was toppled in the box.
For me whilst his overall game was decent, Dowd messed up on some big decisions.
Rotation and Selection
The continual rotation of players is often a point of contention but in some cases it is a necessity.
Valencia at RB, Carrick at CB, Gibson starting his first PL game since April, Berbatov starting; these were all decisions made because of injuries or with injuries in mind.
It seems we are forever complaining about injuries, but again yesterday we picked another one up with Evans suffering with a calf complaint.
At the moment we are coping and whilst not full fledged proponents of ‘Total Football’, we have players that are capable of playing in various positions and thus it eases the blow.
This is dependent on us getting players back though, we are getting down to the bare bones and with a tough run of games coming we may not be able to continue getting away with this.
Had a pretty solid game for me. There were a number of players that performed yesterday, but Park worked hard and hassled Wigan incessantly.
He opened the scoring for us, his first since scoring in the 8-2 drubbing of Arsenal, but there is so much more to him than goals and we saw that yesterday.
Park can often be the forgotten man and is criminally under rated but he offers a lot to United and is usually dependable when called on.
Yesterday was a good day
We have now reduced the 5 point lead City had to 0. Our goal difference is rapidly improving and now there are just 5 goals between us, down from 17.
We were being written off but we have been getting better whilst everyone was focusing on City and now the questions being asked of Man City, if they can hold their nerve, will be ringing extremely loud in their ears now we have cranked up the pressure.
In our last 9 league games we have conceded just twice and kept 7 clean sheets, this is a massive turn around from when our defence was leaking goals like a sieve. At the other end of the field the goals are flooding in too, scoring 16 goals in 4 games.
Teams like Chelsea continue to drop points allowing us to focus on City and from being also rans in the eyes of the press, United will fancy their chances of picking up title 20 in May.