Can We Play Wigan Every Week?
Second-half goals from Carlos Tevez, Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney overwhelmed Wigan Athletic and sent United top of the Premier League.
Though being on the summit will probably prove temporary, seeing that Arsenal only have to avoid losing to Sunderland to reclaim the first position, it's nevertheless a relief that we can score goals.
Of course it was clear that here's the ideal chance to start scoring goals: Wigan played four Premiership games against United and conceded 12 goals in those. Add the Carling Cup final which we won 4-0 and it's clear that Wigan hate playing against us.
Their gameplan wasn't exactly difficult: ten men behind the ball, closing down every space which our attackers might exploit. They had no other chance, trying to come out and outplay United at Old Trafford could be disastrous for a club like Wigan.
For 45 minutes it seemed they would get what they want. United exerted some early pressure and were almost gifted a goal when Olembe's attempted clearance went towards his own goal but Kirkland was on hand to push it out. The ball fall to Ronaldo who was clearly fouled by Michael Brown yet Riley waved play on. Brown got off last season with stamping on Giggs though he should have been sent off - it seems he's lucky at Old Trafford.
Unlike United: Nemanja Vidic bruised his head and after lengthy discussions with the staff and Fergie, he was substituted. Not long after John O'Shea came off with what looked like a groin injury. Add them to Louis Saha who injured himself during the pre-match warm-up and you may see it wasn't the best first half for the Reds.
Riley denied another clear-cut penalty when Tevez was fouled. He got just about everything wrong: blew for goalkick when corner should have been given, waved play on when Ronaldo was hacked down mercilessly... he was the poorest performer on the pitch without a doubt.
Regardless of these difficulties, United regained some of their momentum for the end of the half: first Rooney, then Giggs, finally Tevez missed good chances to open the scoring.
The second half started in similar fashion: United pressed for a goal, Wigan soaked up the pressure and hung on. But they should have known what was coming when after a bad clearance, Giggs hit the post with a half-volley from 10 yards.
In the 54th minute there was no mercy. Anderson's fantastic through ball found Tevez who hold off a defender then rounded Kirkland and fired into the far corner of the net. Brilliant goal and no more than what we deserved.
This finally opened the floodgates that kept our flowing at bay during this season so far. After a corner, Giggs' floated cross was headed by a defender towards his own net. Kirkland palmed it away but the lurking Ronaldo headed it in from close range.
Wigan could have pulled one back after Valencia beat Evra on the left but his shot was superbly beat away by Kuszczak. And they missed the last train with that chance: Giggs released Rooney on the left in the 76th minute and his low cross was tapped in by Ronaldo from close range.
The Portuguese could have had a hat-trick but fired well over after chesting down the excellent Anderson's superb ball. But the fourth eventually arrived later: Scholes released Simpson on the right and the young defender's perfect cross was headed into the net from close range by Wayne Rooney who also excelled in the second half.
So, Wigan have now shipped in 20 goals in 6 meetings with United - they provided a much-needed confidence boost for the stuttering champions.