Community Shield Preview: Manchester United vs. Wigan Athletic

community shield

Premier League champions Manchester United and FA Cup winners Wigan Athletic face off at Wembley in the Community Shield this weekend. Fans of both clubs experienced similar emotions at the end of the 2012/13 season for very different reasons. For Manchester United is was the joy of winning yet another Premier League crown; however they soon discovered that Sir Alex Ferguson would retire at the end of the season. Wigan’s loss was very different; the shock and delight of winning the FA Cup, defeating the team from the blue half of Manchester, was quickly followed up with the misery of relegation.

The match between the two clubs is really a no win situation for David Moyes in his competitive debut as Manchester United manager in the Community Shield; it’s a game that his new club is expected to win and win comfortably:

Man U v Wigan

The Premier League champions are also forecasted to score 2.70 goals as opposed to 0.74 goals for Wigan, with the match predicted to have a 45.0% chance of there being more than 3.5 goals over the course of the 90 minutes. Moyes will be without Wayne Rooney due to injury, although the game could be a preview of life without the England international if Rooney gets his wish to depart the club.

Much has been made about Manchester United’s inabilities in the transfer market over the course of the summer; however Moyes could hand a debut to Wilfried Zaha, who signed for an initial £10 million fee in January and was then loaned back to Crystal Palace. He’s an exciting prospect for both club and country with a lot of pace that he utilises when running at defenders. If Zaha does start, it should allow Shinji Kagawa to move to a more central role behind Robin van Persie – a position that he played regularly under Jürgen Klopp for Borussia Dortmund. Due to a combination of a lack of playing time as well as being used on the left wing (only making 10 starts as a central attacking midfielder), Kagawa’s goal total dropped from 13 during the 2011/12 season to six last season after the move and he also averaged fewer key passes per match:

Kagawa

In Kagawa’s favoured role for much of last season, Wayne Rooney scored 12 goals and created an average of 1.8 chances per match, credited with 10 assists. He also had a pass completion percentage of 82.9%. Kagawa at Dortmund therefore compared well with Rooney last season statistically – so while United are still active in the transfer market, Kagawa could seize his chance early in the season to prove that an addition to the starting XI is not essential.

Wigan also replaced their manager over the summer after Roberto Martinez departed for Everton, with former Bolton manager Owen Coyle hired. It’s not the only change as 11 players have departed the club as well as a further two leaving at the end of their loan spells; with Arouna Koné’s £6 million move to Everton being the highest profile departure. The club have, however, so far been able to retain the services of exciting young players like FA Cup final man of the match Callum McManaman, cup final goal scorer Ben Watson and the much admired James McCarthy; although there is time left this summer for this to change.

Coyle has added ten new faces to his Wigan squad to replace the departed players and has therefore unsurprisingly spent more than Manchester United so far this summer. Wigan has spent £6.2 million on Thomas Rogne, Chris McCann, Marc-Antoine Fortuné, Juan Carlos García, Leon Barnett, Stephen Crainey, James Perch, Scott Carson, James McClean and Grant Holt, spending a combined £4.5 million on the latter pair of McClean and Holt.

Grant Holt may be 32 but he could turn out to be the signing that helps Wigan return to the Premier League. The striker scored eight goals and created a solid average of 0.9 chances per match for Norwich last season, a season after he scored 15 for the Canaries. He also found the net on his debut for Wigan last weekend in a 4-0 win at Barnsley – and after that victory Coyle may elect to retain the same starting XI. Holt has been joined at the club since the win by James McClean, with the Republic of Ireland international taking a pay cut to join Wigan. McClean will be aiming to bounce back after a difficult second season in English football, with a lower level of success statistically almost across the board, notably seeing his cross completion percentage drop from 23.6% to 14.2%. With McClean on the left and McManaman on the right, Coyle will have two very direct wingers who have the ability to create chances for Holt and Wigan’s other options in the middle, although both players may have to settle for a spot on the bench at Wembley.

It’s a game that David Moyes’ Manchester United cannot afford to lose as the Premier League champions are facing a Championship outfit as the manager begins his attempt to break out of Sir Alex Ferguson’s shadow. Furthermore, Manchester United won both ties against Wigan last season, both by a 4-0 score line, although this is a very different Wigan side after numerous changes this summer. Nonetheless, Wigan has been in this position before at Wembley against a Manchester side this year – so while United are the favourites, Wigan know that the shock is possible.

Injuries:

Manchester United: Darren Fletcher (out), Nick Powell (out), Jonny Evans (doubtful), Wayne Rooney (doubtful), Nani (late fitness test)

Wigan Athletic: Ivan Ramis (out), Gary Caldwell (out), Thomas Rogne (doubtful)

Who will you put your money on – Man United of Wigan?

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