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LONDON: Manchester United will seek to pile the psychological pressure on its absent Premier League rivals on Saturday with a victory against Wigan to increase its lead at the top of the table.
With second-placed Arsenal preparing for the League Cup final against Birmingham, and defending champion Chelsea with no fixture, a United win at Wigan will leave its rivals with little margin for error.
A United victory would leave it a mammoth 15 points clear of Chelsea ahead of the two sides' re-arranged fixture at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday.
United manager Sir Alex Ferguson will be certain to remove any trace of complacency from his team's ranks as it prepares to meet a Wigan side mired in a relegation dogfight at the foot of the table.
Ferguson's team has struggled to find its best form in recent matches, with a lacklustre 1-0 win over non-league Crawley last weekend followed by a mind-numbing 0-0 Champions League match with Marseilles on Wednesday.
United captain Nemanja Vidic believes the club is entering what could be the decisive part of its season, with next Tuesday's clash with Chelsea followed by games against Liverpool and Arsenal in coming weeks.
Vidic is insisting that the club abides by the old adage of taking each game as it comes — starting with Wigan.
“We have other important games to play first and the next is Wigan. We have to take three points and I believe we can,” Vidic told the club's website.
Wigan, meanwhile, has prepared for the game by re-laying the notoriously boggy playing surface at the DW Stadium, a move that will assist both sides, who favour a slick passing game.
Latics boss Roberto Martinez said he had qualms about preparing a surface which is likely to benefit United as much as his own team.
“You don't want to go into a game where the players cannot express themselves and cannot play the game they want to play or we want to play,” he said. “I'm extremely proud of that.
“From now until the end of the season every point is going to be valuable and it is important we do everything we can to help our players.”
Elsewhere at the top of the table, Manchester City, which sits in third spot, eight points behind United, will attempt to keep its flagging title hopes alive with a win over Fulham, managed by former City boss Mark Hughes.
Fulham has prepared for the game with a trip to Portugal, as Hughes seeks to rejuvenate his squad following last weekend's disappointing FA Cup exit to Birmingham. — AFP
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