Manchester United secured their place in the League Cup Final in mid-week and on Sunday afternoon they will have another opportunity to progress in a domestic cup competition when they host Wigan Athletic in the fourth round of the FA Cup.
Jose Mourinho’s side are the current FA Cup holders and will be aiming to avoid any potential upset against their opponents from The Championship much in the same way that they eased past Reading in the previous round. However, Wigan have overcome the odds in the Cup in the past, most notably when they won the competition in 2013, and they will be looking to make history once again when they travel to Old Trafford.
Manchester United may currently be sitting in the slightly underwhelming position of sixth place in the Premier League table but Jose Mourinho’s men were in the midst of a lengthy unbeaten run until their mid-week defeat to Hull City. The Red Devils were unbeaten in their previous 17 fixtures across all competitions prior to Thursday’s League Cup Semi-Final second leg and enter Sunday’s FA Cup tie as the clear favourites to progress. United are the current FA Cup holders and you would expect them to be in contention for the trophy when the final is contested in May.
Wigan Athletic are sitting precariously above the relegation zone in The Championship due to goal difference and have struggled to adapt to life in the second tier of English football after securing promotion last season. However, The Latics have been much-improved in recent weeks under the guidance of Warren Joyce and have won all of their previous three fixtures in all competitions, including a two-goal victory in the FA Cup third round against Nottingham Forest. However, Wigan have only beaten Manchester United once in their history, courtesy of a Shaun Maloney wonder-strike in 2012, and have suffered defeat in 17 of the 18 games that the two clubs have contested.
Manchester United’s team selection will depend on how Jose Mourinho chooses to juggle his playing squad over a busy period that will have seen them play five games in two weeks. The Portuguese maestro is likely to ring the changes against Wigan on Sunday but will still be able to call upon an impressive array of ‘fringe’ players. David de Gea is almost certainly set to be rested with Sergio Romero having a rare opportunity to impress having spent the vast majority of the season warming the bench. Anthony Martial, Jesse Lingard, Marcus Rashford and Wayne Rooney, fresh from breaking the club’s all-time goal scoring record after scoring a last minute equaliser against Stoke City, could all be called upon to start.
Warren Joyce is unlikely to alter the Wigan team that secured a 2-1 victory against Brentford last weekend. Nick Powell is a long-term injury absentee and Jamie Hanson, who joined the Latics from Derby County earlier this week on loan for the remainder of the season, will be unable to feature due to being cup-tied. Reece James and Alex Gilbey could both be included in the match-day squad having successfully completed 45 minutes in an under-21 fixture in mid-week.
Key Man: Jacob Haugaard
The Danish goalkeeper has made an instant impact at the DW Stadium after agreeing to join The Latics on loan for the remainder of the season from Stoke City. Wigan have won all three matches in which Haugaard has played since his arrival, including securing two clean sheets. You would assume that he will need to be at his very best if his team are to pull off an FA Cup upset on Sunday afternoon.
- Manchester United have won 17 of the 18 competitive fixtures between the two clubs.
- Wigan Athletic have only ever beaten Manchester United once, in a 1-0 victory in 2012.
- Manchester United and Wigan Athletic have never drawn a competitive game.
- Manchester United have won the FA Cup 12 times in their history.
Manchester United are in fine form and are finally starting to click into gear under the guidance of Jose Mourinho, who will undoubtedly be determined to retain United’s FA Cup crown. However, Wigan are in decent form themselves and look to have turned the corner in recent weeks. The Latics will have nothing to lose when they travel to Old Trafford and will be backed by 3,000 traveling supporters – having said that, it is hard to look beyond a comfortable home victory.
Predicted Score: Manchester United 3, Wigan Athletic 0
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