United target 13th straight win over Wigan

LONDON- There has been much talk about how the Premier League has evened out this season and plenty of upset results but when it comes to Manchester United and Wigan, who meet at the DW Stadium on Saturday, all bets are off.

Since Wigan reached the top flight in 2005 the teams have met 11 times in the league and once in the League Cup and United have won all 12.

They have scored 39 goals, including home and away 5-0 wins last season, and conceded only four.

United beat Wigan 2-0 at Old Trafford in November when red cards for Antolin Alcaraz and Hugo Rodallega blew the visitors' chances and they go into the game top of the league, albeit only a point ahead of Arsenal with a game in hand.

Wigan are third-from-bottom and fighting for survival.

Having played at Olympique Marseille in the Champions League on Wednesday, drawing 0-0 in the first leg of their last-16 tie, Alex Ferguson might be tempted to rest many of his big names with an eye onTuesday's Premier League trip to Chelsea.

But with Arsenal breathing down their necks, United cannot afford to drop points in such a fixture and the manager will need to produce a delicate juggling act, especially as Chelsea are not playing this weekend and should be fully refreshed from their 2-0 Champions League win at FC Copenhagen.


Wigan have put together a decent run in recent weeks, gaining draws at Liverpool and West Bromwich Albion and beating Blackburn Rovers, and young midfielder James McCarthy said the run has put his side in an upbeat mood.

"Coming off some positive recent results we're in a great moment of form to take on United in what is going to be a massive game for the club," he told the club's website.

"We've watched a lot of their recent games and although people say they haven't reached their peak this season they're still getting results and sitting on top of the league, so we know how effective and dangerous they can be."

United have 57 points, one ahead of Arsenal, who play Birmingham City in the League Cup Final on Sunday. Manchester City, who host Fulham, are third on 49 with Tottenham Hotspur, who have the weekend off, fourth on 47.

With Chelsea floundering in fifth on 45 points a win for United on Saturday would take them a massive 15 points clear of the champions.

Chelsea are also under pressure from below as Liverpool can close to within three points, albeit from two more games, with a win at West Ham United on Sunday.

Last week's 1-1 home draw with Wigan ended a run of four straight wins, all without conceding a goal, for Kenny Dalglish's team and there could be tired legs travelling to London after Thursday's Europa League game against Sparta Prague.

Manchester City also have a Europa Cup game, against Aris Salonika, but they are at home on Sunday when they will look to consolidate third place with victory over Fulham and former boss Mark Hughes.