Home » Three starlets’ involvement holds key to cup success versus Wigan for Manchester United

Three starlets’ involvement holds key to cup success versus Wigan for Manchester United

by Alex Browne
Amad Diallo

Manchester United and Wigan square off in the final game of the third round of the FA Cup tonight.

The Red Devils will be hoping to avoid a potential banana skin against their Lancashire rivals and secure safe passage to the fourth round of the cup.

Neither team comes into the game in any sort of form, so both will be looking to kick start the new year in the best way possible.

Wigan usually play a 4-2-3-1 formation. They will look to be defensively solid and hit United on the counter like Nottingham Forest did so effectively in the second half of the previous match.

Here is what Erik ten Hag’s need to do to show their superiority over the League One side.

1) Defenders need to be ready for a physical battle

As is typical in the lower leagues, Wigan rely on physically imposing strikers who are all over six foot (182 cm). Their top scorer Stephen Humphrys and fellow strikers Charlie Wyke and Josh Magennis are all tall, strong attackers who will keep whoever United play at centre back honest all night long.

Once again, it must be stated that United don’t always relish the physical battle and it is a loss that Harry Maguire cannot play this match, as he would be in his element.

Special attention should also be paid to Northern Ireland international Magennis, who works tirelessly and who has a wealth of top level experience having played 75 international fixtures.

Luckily, his international teammate, Jonny Evans, should know his game better than anyone and alongside Raphael Varane, should deal with the threat.

2) United need to dominate the midfield

The Red Devils will need to keep the ball for a long time but not allow themselves to get turned over on the counterattack like they have so many times this season. Such is the strength of the English footballing pyramid, a League One team can still devastate a Premier League side if they give them space to run into. Especially when the team is one as vulnerable as United.

The introduction of Scott McTominay alongside Christian Eriksen simply did not work against Forest and it is essential that Ten Hag chooses midfielders with better discipline and craft on the ball. Kobbie Mainoo is a key player to maintain patience with the ball but also hold his defensive shape.

It was a testament to how good the youngster is that when he was subbed off for tactical reasons against Nottingham Forest, all midfield control was lost.

3) Wingers need to get Hojlund in the game

After scoring his first Premier League goal on Boxing Day, the Dane was robbed off a chance to build on the momentum, as he was ruled out with through illness against Forest.

Playing against weaker opposition is a great chance for the youngster to find his goal scoring boots again but he can only do this if the ball is passed to him.

Whether it is Antony, Alejandro Garnacho, Amad Diallo or Marcus Rashford, they need to provide service for the Danish international.

Logically, Amad could be a good shout to play as he is the most naturally creative out of the four and will look to make the killer pass when the others may just choose to shoot more often than not.

Hojlund’s speed and movement should cause all sorts of problems for a League One defence so it is vital that the ball arrives to him with frequency.

All in all, if Erik ten Hag can get his men to successfully carry out all three of these tactical instructions, it should be enough to ensure safe passage to the fourth round of the FA Cup.

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