Manchester United and Wigan Athletic will contest the 91st Community Shield at Wembley Stadium this Sunday. 

It will be the first time since 1980 that a side from outside the top division has featured in the pre-season match, with FA Cup winning Championship side Wigan, taking on the reigning Barclays Premier League Champions Manchester United.

The traditional season curtain raiser is normally a game that the two contesting sides take pretty lightly. 

Often, certainly in recent years, the match has been played between two teams who will be fighting for the Premier League title in the year ahead.

Therefore it is normally only a match that matters if you win. This time round however, there feels more to the game than normal, certainly for Manchester United, who under new boss David Moyes could do with a morale boosting victory.

It has been a difficult summer for Manchester United. No transfer activity, coupled with a wantaway Wayne Rooney and indifferent pre-season form, leaves United heading into the shield match with more questions than answers. 

Fans will want to see a commanding victory over one of last season's relegated clubs, to give some momentum heading into the new season. 

As for Wigan, their season got off to a flying start last weekend, with a 4-0 away win at Barnsley. 

They too have a new manager, with Owen Coyle taking over from Roberto Martinez, who has headed to Everton. 

On paper, Wigan look very strong contenders for the Championship, and this game is little more than an extended celebration of their remarkable FA Cup victory.

United have an impressive head to head record against The Latics. In 17 previous meetings, United have lost just once, in 2011/12, where Wigan dealt a huge blow to United’s title challenge.

This is the first appearance in the shield for Wigan, while United will be looking to follow up their 20th League title by winning their 20th shield match. 

As the most successful club in the competition, Manchester United head in to the game as firm favourites to claim victory.

While United have been very quiet on the transfer front, there have been plenty of changes at Wigan. 

Roberto Martinez returned to raid his old club for striker Arouna Kone and defender Antolin Alcaraz. 

Maynor Figueroa moved to Hull, while Franco Di Santo was released by the club.

Apart from those departures, Wigan have acted smartly in the transfer window, bringing in some useful acquisitions. 

Striker Grant Holt has joined from Norwich, where he had an impressive goalscoring record. 

As such he is 9/1 to score the first goal in this match, the favourite among the Wigan players. 

England international Scott Carson has joined as the clubs new goalkeeper while they have also captured Sunderland and Republic of Ireland winger James McClean. 

Mcclean and fellow winger Callum Mcmanaman will be two of the players to watch out for on Wigan's side.

For United, the key player to watch out for as always will be Robin van Persie. 

He scored 26 goals in United’s successful Premier League campaign last season and unsurprisingly is favourite to score first on Sunday. 

Van Persie played two shield matches in his Arsenal days and currently has won one lost one record.

The only new player for Manchester United is Wilfried Zaha, signed in January by Sir Alex Ferguson. 

The shield match is often the place where new arrivals can make a good, or not so good first impression. 

David De Gea for example, had a shield match he would much rather forget.

Zaha has been impressive in pre-season and will want to follow up his England call with a good showing at Wembley.

The 2013 Community Shield may not feature two top class Premier League sides, but is not lacking in intrigue. 

There will be pressure on Moyes’ Manchester United to win and win well. For Wigan there is very little pressure on the game. 

It ought to be an occasion for celebration for them and the chance to build up more fitness at the start of the season. 

United should win it, but how they win it may well be more important than simply getting their hands on the trophy.

Prediction: Manchester United 3-1 Wigan Athletic

Did you Know? – Manchester United featured in the highest scoring game in Shield history in 1911, when they won 8-4 against Swindon Town.


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