Manchester’s Patrice Evra vows to exorcise Wigan’s ghost
MANCHESTER UNITED defender Patrice Evra has promised there will be no repeat of last season’s debilitating defeat at Wigan Athletic when the sides meet again on New Year’s Day.
Alex Ferguson’s side were beaten 1-0 at the DW Stadium at the start of a run of just one win in four matches that led to Manchester City regaining control of the title race on the way to winning the Premier League.
Although United have endured defensive problems this season, they have picked up six wins from their last seven matches and begin 2013 seven points clear of City.
Shaun Maloney scored the only goal of that defeat in April and Evra, 31, has vowed that United will not experience similar emotions this time around as they look to maintain consistency over the busy holiday period.
Evra is also adamant that with the options that Ferguson has available, tiredness cannot be an excuse.
“I think about the 4-3 win over Newcastle — last year we lost at this time, 3-2 against Blackburn,” said the French left-back.
“I think we have to use the bad experiences we had last year. I remember last year we lost 1-0 at Wigan and we showed nothing. It was a really bad performance for Manchester United.
“This year there will be no excuse. We will just go there, play like Man United, and make sure we get the three points, because it’s really important we do that.
“I always say to myself that I’m lucky to get to play in so many games. I will say to the boss I am ready to play, but if he says I need a rest, then I will have a rest.
“I just want to keep going. I will rest when I retire. That’s the name of my game.”
Defenders Phil Jones and Rafael should return from injury for the game at United’s north-west rivals.
But England striker Wayne Rooney is set to miss out again with a knee problem, while Anderson and Nani are both struggling with hamstring injuries.
Ferguson believes the changes he made for the 2-0 win over West Bromwich Albion on Saturday will also have a positive effect against a Wigan side who picked up a 3-0 victory at Aston Villa.
The United manager said: “Phil could be ready and Rafa will be ready.
“We rested Robin (van Persie), Chicharito (Javier Hernandez), Ryan (Giggs) and Paul (Scholes) against West Brom, so we’ve got enough freshness to bring in.
“Wigan had a great result and it’ll be a hard game on Tuesday.”
The Latics have been beset by defensive injury problems but after recalling Gary Caldwell earlier in the festive period, manager Roberto Martinez was able to include Spanish defender Ivan Ramis at Villa for the first time in more than a month after knee trouble.
That win at Villa Park ended a miserable run of five defeats in six games for Wigan, who had also conceded at least two goals in eight of their previous nine matches.
After finally keeping a clean sheet Martinez feels his team have now come through a difficult time and look more imposing at both ends of the pitch.
“At Aston Villa, their intensity was magnificent and meant the quality we had going forwards could open up the pitch and create opportunities,” he said.
“We were dominant in both boxes, which is what has been missing in recent games, and we’ll aim to take that into Tuesday’s game against Manchester United.”
Antolin Alcaraz is still out with a groin problem and Antonio Lopez, Ben Watson, on-loan Arsenal winger Ryo Miyaichi and Albert Crusat are also absent. – AFP