Ferguson expected Van Persie to make all the difference for Reds
ALEX Ferguson claimed he knew striker Robin van Persie would make the difference for Manchester United this season.
Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini expressed his fear that the failure to land Van Persie will prove pivotal in the title race.
And Van Persie offered more evidence to back up that theory with a double in United's 4-0 win over Wigan Athletic at the DW Stadium that takes his tally for the season to 19.
The first goal in particular was a gem, as he took Javier Hernandez's square ball before stepping inside Ivan Ramis and then belting a superb shot into the corner with his supposedly weaker right foot.
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"We knew we were getting a top player who would make a difference to the team," said Ferguson. "That is why we went for him.
"Robin is a completely rounded footballer. He has great international experience, he's played for Arsenal for seven years and he came to us at the very peak of his career.
"His ability to make and take goals is fantastic.
"His play for his first goal was absolutely magnificent, his turn, his balance, no drawback, just side-footed it in. It was a really good goal."
Van Persie's contribution was matched by that of strike partner Hernandez, who took his own tally to 12, just eight short of his stellar first season in England.
"Since Javier came, he has shown he is a penalty-box player," said Ferguson. "He is tremendous.
"He latches on to things. He is brilliant."
The victory completed an impressive 10-point haul for United from their four festive games and they even managed to keep a second consecutive clean sheet.
Sergio Aguero could miss Manchester City's next two games after suffering a hamstring injury in the reigning champions' 3-0 Barclays Premier League win over Stoke City.
The Argentina striker was forced off moments after scoring the third goal at the Etihad Stadium from the penalty spot in the 74th minute.
City do not expect to know the extent of the injury until tomorrow at least but first-team coach David Platt has already ruled out the possibility of Aguero facing Watford in the FA Cup third round on Saturday.
Last season's top scorer could also be doubtful for the January 13 trip to Arsenal.
Platt said: "It is difficult to assess an injury like that, how long it is going to be.
"But there are different degrees of hamstring injuries – that's why we need 48 hours."
Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert described his side's 2-2 draw at Swansea City as a huge point, despite seeing them denied all three by Danny Graham's injury-time equaliser.
The Villans had conceded 15 and scored none in their previous three games and Wayne Routledge added to their woes as he fired the hosts ahead in the ninth minute.
But relegation-threatened Villa had looked set to take the points when Andreas Weimann levelled just before the interval and Christian Benteke scored from the spot when Nathan Dyer conceded an 84th-minute penalty for a foul on Weimann.
However, Graham had the last word to rescue a point for the Swans.
"We have been beaten heavily in the last three games so this is a huge point for the future of the club," said Lambert. "The young lads in the side have been excellent and when you get beaten heavily you learn a lot about people and today showed they are mentally strong.
"In the first half they were coming at us from all angles and we had to weather that storm and we needed a couple of good saves, while they also hit the woodwork.
"But to get the goal before half-time certainly helped us and it had a galvanising effect."