35 minutes. That was how long we remained on parity with the League Leaders, and who to me look like this seasons Champions. The rest of the big sides which have come to the DW Stadium have all looked as poor as United, but none of them have managed to take advantage of us, a sign of Champions? Well that is to be seen. For us, it was a sign we had gone one game to far in the festive fixtures.
The side was tired and out of sorts, and I think many were longing to still be in bed after the night before. But instead a full strength starting 11 faced a United side, which defensively is poor, yet oozes striking ability. Stiking ability is something we needed in those first 35 minutes. The amount of times we had good openings and either none had a shot, or the ball went high and wide.
A prime example of this, was the wing play down the right. Good work between Emmerson Boyce and James McCarthy (who yet again was outstanding) saw a cross swung in. Johnny Evans just managed to head the ball away from a waiting Arouna Kone, but it fell to a Jean Beasejour eager to strike. A slice of a shot and the ball went high and wide.
The story of our season! On top, better openings, more possession and the better heart. Yet we couldn't take advantage. Yet the little Mexican could. Javier Hernandez who Wigan nearly signed before he went to Old Trafford popped up with the opening goal. Patrice Evra having a shot which was low and hard against Ali Al Habsi, all the keeper could do was push the shot away. None of our players reacted quickly enough so Hernandez slotted home.
Our heads dropped and from then on we were really out of this game. Our passing went, the defense lost their heads, and the ball was all United's.
Yet it still took them one minute till half time to double their lead, and even that was lucky. The ball was out wide on the left hand side with Ashley Young. The winger had to beat both James McArthur and Jean Beasejour, yet he managed to after the biggest slice of luck. McArthur sliding in and winning the ball, saw it bounce up and hit Beasejour in the chest, before rolling through the Young. Young then found Robin Van Persie. Tight went Ivan Ramis and slip went Ramis leaving Van Persie to slot home.
How typical for United. Lucky and they get their goal, that would never happen for a Wigan attack fact!
The second half isn't really worth mentioning. United weren't in the mood to chase the game knowing we could fire back, and we looked tired and wanting to keep the score low. Not many chances came for either side as the ball was held in the middle of the pitch.
We did have the ball in the net Arouna Kone turning home a low cross by Franco Di Santo early into the second half and the decisions was offside. How our players can get themselves offside their is ridiculous, it was the right decision, but we should have had a goal from that.
Instead it was Manchester United who added to the score line Javier Hernandez again with a lucky chance. The referee awarding a free-kick about 20 yards out, Van Persie hits it straight at the wall, a slipping Hernandez stuck out a foot and managed to send the ball into the goal. You just don't get that lucky!
That was our heads gone and United now happy like a fat cat. They would get a fourth again of our own doing. That would be after a double change to bring on Ronnie Stamm and Jordi Gomez for Franco Di Santo and Gary Caldwell. The changes settled the ship, but not for long.
In the last 5 minutes, Danny Welbeck would manage to get an assist after some stupidity by Jean Beasejour. The wing back came across to take the ball off the forward. He did and instead of welling it clear, Jean decided to pass it to Emmerson Boyce who had already backed off to all Jean space to clear. The result was the ball feel to Welbeck who could simply cut it back to Van Persie for his second and United's fourth.
Four goals, all of our won fault, much to be improved upon, yet at least we know why we are losing.