Five-star United rout Wigan
Manchester United closed the gap on Premier League leaders Chelsea to just two points after ending 2009 with a superb 5-0 demolition of Wigan on Wednesday.
Sir Alex Ferguson's side produced the perfect response to Chelsea's win over Fulham on Monday, which had stretched the west London's club advantage to five points, as goals from Wayne Rooney, Michael Carrick, Rafael Da Silva, Dimitar Berbatov and former Wigan star Antonio Valencia tore Wigan to pieces at Old Trafford.
The injury-hit reigning champions had been written off after recent defeats to Aston Villa and Fulham, but they head into the New Year suddenly in the rudest of health.
South Korean Won-Hee Cho made his first start of the season for Wigan as he came in for Jason Scotland but the visitors were otherwise unchanged from the side that drew 1-1 with Blackburn Rovers on Boxing Day.
Dutch goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar was absent from the United team as he is on indefinite compassionate leave to care for his sick wife, Annmarie, who has suffered a brain haemorrhage.
History has not been kind to Wigan in this fixture as they have lost all nine previous Premier League encounters with United, culminating in the 5-0 thrashing Ferguson's men delivered at the DW Stadium at the start of this season.
Roberto Martinez's team arrived with damage limitation in mind and played with a clearly negative approach early on which briefly neutralised United's attacking prowess.
However, the home side finally started to make a significant impression after 20 minutes when the sheer weight of their possession started to pay dividends.
Firstly, Titus Bramble made a stunning penalty box tackle on Berbatov which somehow stopped him from getting his shot away before teammate Paul Scharner followed that example 30 seconds later when he cleared a Nemanja Vidic effort off the line. Then Rooney then hit the post from an impossibly tight angle just a minute later as fortune favoured Wigan.
However, luck only lasts so long in the Premier League until other qualities are needed. Wigan did not possess them but United did, which was why Rooney finally gave United the lead after 28 minutes.
Da Silva delivered the simplest of crosses from the right wing and Rooney ghosted into the front post to get a crucial touch on the ball to steer past Chris Kirkland for his 14th Premier League goal of the season.
It was soon 2-0 as four minutes later, Carrick, who had otherwise been anonymous throughout the opening parts of the encounter, latched onto a pass from former Wigan winger Valencia to calmly steer into the bottom corner.
Wigan's day then got even worse just seconds before the interval when Da Silva was given far too much room in the box and he drove past Kirkland to make it 3-0.
Mike Pollitt replaced Kirkland at the break but his luck was no better, conceding Wigan's fourth goal to Berbatov just five minutes after the re-start.
Berbatov got his sixth league goal of the season as he poked past Pollitt from close range in an encounter that was becoming an embarrassment for Wigan.
Charles N'Zogbia missed a decent chance for the visitors as they showed a tiny glimpse of flair but the fact he crashed his shot wide from close out summed up their performance.
And when Valencia brilliantly clipped home a fifth goal in the 75th minute, United's dominance and Wigan's humiliation was complete.