Manchester United return to Premier League action this Saturday when we host Wigan at Old Trafford.
A surprise 1-0 victory for Wigan at the DW Stadium in the run-in last year put a dent in United’s title hopes and helped Wigan secure another year in the Premier League.
Ahead of Saturday, I sat down with a Wigan fan to talk about the game ahead and what Latics fans are expecting from the game.
1. First of all, could you introduce yourself to the readers?
Hello, I am the founder and editor of www.lets-hang-on.com – a blog about the highs and lows of following Wigan Athletic. I’m a communications specialist and freelance writer and a lifelong Latics fan. You can follow me on Twitter @IanHAspinall.
2. Wigan’s form at the start of this season has been good with four points from nine. Do you think you will continue to impress during the entire year or will it be a traditional case of do-or-die at the end again?
I’m optimistic that we can aim for a mid-table position this season. Our form at the end of last season was remarkable and I think we can build on that platform this time around. Roberto Martinez has developed the playing style over the last couple of seasons and I believe this time we have a stronger squad than in previous years.
We had a terrible first six minutes against Chelsea on the opening day of the season but apart from that we dominated the game and created 15 chances to Chelsea’s six. Our away performance at Southampton was very satisfying as we ran out comfortable 2-0 winners.
We cruised past Nottingham Forest 4-1 in the Capital One Cup with some high quality goals. The Forest manager Sean O’Driscoll commented afterwards that he aspired to Wigan’s tiki-taka style of play. In our most recent game against Stoke, we had to contend with Stoke’s physical presence and long ball tactics but we acquitted ourselves very well in the 2-2 draw.
3. Do you think Wigan have improved with the business you did in the transfer window this summer? Are you a stronger side?
We are not a wealthy club in Premier League terms, so we have to be very careful with our signings, we cannot spend the vast sums available to clubs like United, City and Chelsea. Our biggest ever signing was only £6.5m for Mauro Boselli, so it’s pretty obvious that we can’t compete with the top clubs on transfer fees and salaries. Martinez and chief scout Kevin Reeves are however doing some sterling work discovering some talented players from around the world.
Nigerian Victor Moses has now been sold to Chelsea for a considerable profit and we have some promising young players in our squad. New signing defender Ivan Ramis has settled in well following a rocky first six minutes against Chelsea and striker Arouna Kone looks a threat around the penalty box. We also have a young Japanese lad on loan from Arsenal Ryo Miyaichi, who is very quick and likely to make a positive impact from the bench.
4. You comfortably beat United last year at the DW Stadium. Are you confident that you can get a result on Saturday?
We had never beaten United before our win at the DW last season, so I’m not counting on an easy game at Old Trafford. United made a huge statement to the rest of the Premier League when they signed Robin Van Persie, so it’s going to be very difficult for Wigan on Saturday.
5. Who is your most dangerous player going into Saturday and why?
Shaun Maloney is a very underrated player who can make the difference for Wigan. He sits just behind the main striker and his energy and incisive passing could cause United problems.
6. What United player do you think will present the biggest danger to Wigan?
Robin Van Persie is the obvious choice, especially after scoring four goals in the opening three games.
7. Finally, what’s your prediction for Saturday?
I’m going for 1-1, Wigan’s first draw at Old Trafford.