Manchester United look to complete title in style
Tuesday 12 May 2009
Manchester United look likely to move to the brink of a third straight Premier League title at Wigan on Wednesday, with or without Cristiano Ronaldo.
With what should be a tougher game against Arsenal coming up on Saturday, United may leave out their leading scorer and Fifa's World Player of the Year following his petulant reaction to his substitution against Manchester City at the weekend.
Manager Alex Ferguson was publicly unconcerned by Ronaldo spending the last 30 minutes on Sunday shrugging and rolling his eyes from the bench, with the comfortable 2-0 win taking United to within four points of the title.
Victory against a Wigan side with just one point from its last five matches would leave United needing only to avoid defeat against Arsenal to lift the trophy with a game still to play.
Ferguson, though, is aiming to finish the season with three more victories.
"He tells us we need to win every game," United defender Patrice Evra said. "At United, the aim is always to win.
"In March, we lost to Liverpool and Fulham and that was the first time since I arrived that we'd lost two league games in a row. I've never felt pain like that before and I don't want to again. That's why I'm confident we'll finish the job and win the league."
Those two losses in March left United contemplating the prospect of surrendering their title to fierce rivals Liverpool, but the Red Devils promptly shrugged off the pressure to take six straight wins.
"It's a joy to play in these games and be involved in the title race," Evra said. "It's a privilege to play for a club where you have the opportunity to make history. Yes, it's a lot of pressure, but pressure I'm happy to have."
Ferguson could start John O'Shea in central defense if Rio Ferdinand and Jonny Evans fail to recover from minor injuries they sustained against City, while Paul Scholes, Michael Carrick and Wayne Rooney could also be recalled.
Wigan, meanwhile, are in mid-table with little to play for except pride.
The game could have meant more to the home side had it not been postponed because of United's involvement in other competitions. Wigan were in contention for a European place until their recent poor run of form.
"The most important thing when you're on a good run is to protect your form and keep it going," Wigan defender Mario Melchiot said. "You have to keep your focus when the going is good because it's hard to get back once you're going through a bad patch."
Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes
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