This weekend sees Wigan Athletic travel to Old Trafford, marking Warren Joyce’s return to the club after leaving the position as Manchester United U23 manager earlier this season. It will be a nice occasion for him and his players, but the home side will go into the match as overwhelming favourites. They reached the EFL Cup final during the week and they will want to treat the FA Cup with similar respect. Although their priority has to be the Premier League, the cup competitions provide a good opportunity for success and Mourinho knows that.
Manchester United have been improving in recent weeks and they have been very unlucky not to have reached a higher position in the league table. No side in the country will want to play against United at the moment and they should have more than enough for Wigan, especially considering their midweek game against Hull City. They may have qualified for the EFL Cup final, but they lost on the night and Mourinho will demand a positive reaction from his players. At this stage of the season, it is important to build momentum, which means trying to win every match, regardless of the competition.
Wigan have had a difficult first season back in the second tier, but Warren Joyce is beginning to make progress at the club and has led the side out of the relegation zone. It may only be on goal difference, but it is a huge mental victory and one that should mean that his players arrive at Old Trafford in good spirits. They have won their last two matches and will be under no pressure to perform on Sunday. Wigan could provide a more difficult test than Reading, because they are more suited to playing on the back foot. Their defensive record isn’t bad and they have players on the counter attack that could create problems for Manchester United.
In the 18 meetings between the two clubs, Manchester United have won all but one and that highlights the difficulty of Wigan’s task this weekend. They haven’t met in the FA Cup before and it is a competition that the visitors have a good record in. They managed to win the competition in 2013 and had another good run in the tournament during the following campaign. Manchester United need to be on their guard this weekend.
Sergio Romero will start in goal for Manchester United, while Luke Shaw and Eric Bailly could return to the squad this weekend. They will make several changes, which could see several squad players get an opportunity to show what they can do.
Nick Powell and Reece James are both injured for the visitors, while David Perkins and Alex Gibley are doubts. Craig Morgan could start after recovering from a groin injury.
Manchester United have been eliminated in only one of their last 40 FA Cup ties against lower division sides.
Wigan’s win over Brentford marked the first time this season that they have managed to win back-to-back matches.
Although this season has been a quieter one for the England international, he remains a key player for Manchester United, with his dynamism from the bench an asset in league matches. It will be in the cup competitions that he takes on a more important role and he is likely to start this weekend. He has the ability to dominate against lower division sides, as he showed against Reading. His pace, power and dynamic movement can cause havoc, and he will be central to United’s attack as they attempt to break down Wigan on Sunday. He has the ability to beat a man and create a bit of space for himself. Against Reading, his finishing was slightly below the level that we expect from him and he will be eager to deliver an improved performance in front of goal this weekend.
This is a good opportunity for the striker to show what he can do in one of the most iconic stadiums in the world. He has become famous thanks to his terrace chant, but Grigg has struggled to hit the back on the net as frequently in the Championship. Although he hasn’t been helped by playing in a struggling team, he will hope to improve his strike rate over the coming months. Currently, he has five goals in the league this season, but he did score in the previous round of this competition and that will give him confidence ahead of this match. Wigan won’t get many chances at Old Trafford, which is why it is imperative that he takes any chance that does come his way. If Grigg has his shooting boots on Sunday, Wigan may have a chance of getting something from the match.
It is difficult not to see Manchester United qualifying for the next round, but Hull City showed that it is possible to beat Jose Mourinho’s side. Wigan will have to deliver a similarly disciplined performance to stand a chance, but they lack the talent level that Hull have. If the Championship side are to prevail, they will need a great deal of luck. It isn’t beyond the realms of possibility, but it is unlikely considering the difference in quality of the two sides. Mourinho will demand a reaction from his side after falling to defeat in the week and that could lead to a one-sided game, with a few goals for the home side.