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A goal either side of half-time from Javier Hernandez and late strikes by Wayne Rooney and Fabio da Silva settled an entertaining, end-to-end affair at the DW Stadium in Wigan on Saturday.
The victory, only United’s fourth away from home in the league this season, wasn’t as straightforward as the scoreline suggests, but restores the Reds’ four-point lead at the top of the table.
With United next in action on Tuesday evening at Stamford Bridge, Sir Alex’s men have a chance to stretch that lead to seven by the time title rivals Arsenal play again. And that gap could prove psychologically damaging to a Gunners side that haven’t won the league since 2004.
At Wigan on Saturday, Ryan Giggs and Michael Owen had been tipped to return, but neither was involved in the Reds' matchday squad. Sir Alex did make two changes from the side that drew away in Marseille during the week, though, with Paul Scholes replacing Darron Gibson in the centre of midfield and Dimitar Berbatov making way for Hernandez.
The home side started brightest and enjoyed plenty of possession in the opening quarter of an hour. Nemanja Vidic was forced into a fine block tackle on the edge of his area to deny the onrushing Charles N’Zogbia while Hugo Rodallega volleyed over the bar from 12 yards.
The biggest scare came on 13 minutes, when Victor Moses charged down a Paul Scholes pass and ended up clean through on goal with only Edwin van der Sar to beat. The Dutchman, in his 250th United appearance, stayed big to block Moses’ effort with his shoulder and keep the match goalless.