Manchester United will continue the push towards their 20th top flight title on Wednesday when they journey to DW Stadium to take on Wigan.
United’s 2-0 win over Queens Park Rangers on Sunday, and title rivals Manchester City’s 1-0 defeat at Arsenal, leaves Sir Alex Ferguson’s team within touching distance of the trophy – leading by eight points with six games remaining.
United have been helped by the influence of veteran Paul Scholes, who came out of retirement in January to lend a hand to a depleted midfield.
The 37-year-old – who scored with a sensational long-range drive in the QPR match – has been instrumental in United’s title push, with the club claiming 34 of a possible 36 points since he returned to the fold.
Wigan’s desires, meanwhile, are far more humble – with boss Roberto Martinez’s chief concern being securing Premier League football for another season.
Wigan are second from the bottom of the table on 28 points, the same as the two teams directly above them – Blackburn and QPR.
With a tough run home against United, Arsenal and Newcastle among others, points are at a premium for Wigan, who suffered their first loss in five matches with a 2-1 defeat to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.
But they will need a dramatic turnaround in fortunes if they are to claim a point against United – they have never beaten Ferguson’s side in the Premier League, losing all 13 matches they have played in the competition, conceding 42 goals and scoring just four.
Wigan’s squad is in good health for this stage of the campaign, with only Hugo Rodallega in doubt with a knee complaint.
Ferguson’s team, however, has fitness concerns, with Anderson (hamstring) and Michael Owen (thigh) likely miss the match, while Darren Fletcher (bowel condition) and Nemanja Vidic (knee) are long-term casualties.
But at this stage of proceedings, even a lengthy injury list does not seem to be able to derail the champions’ title defence.