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The Lactics have only lost one of their last six games, including home draws against Liverpool and Chelsea, with the 69-year-old backing their Premier League credentials

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has praised Wigan ahead of the two side's Boxing Day clash, and revealed his belief they will stay in the Premier League this season.

The Latics currently sit 18th in the top flight above Bolton and Blackburn Rovers, but have seen a marked improvement in form lately, having only lost once in their last six games.

Roberto Martinez’s men drew against Liverpool and Chelsea at the DW Stadium this week, and the 69-year-old has hailed the Premier League strugglers' impressive form ahead of their visit to Old Trafford on Monday.

Ferguson told reporters ahead of the clash: “I watched Wigan versus Chelsea the other day and I thought Wigan were terrific.

“It says a lot for Roberto Martinez – he continues to play good football irrespective of what position they're in.

“We have a good record against Wigan but we won't take anything for granted. We need to keep out foot on the pedal.”

Despite being regularly touted as favourites for the drop in the last few seasons, the club have consistently avoided a return to the Championship, yet Ferguson does not believe Martinez' side will be at threat from relegation this term.

Ferguson added: “I don't think they're a relegation team – they do well against the bigger teams.

“Last year, I think they lost heavily to Chelsea [6-0 at the DW Stadium] and, this season, they got a draw and could have won.

“I think Wigan will stay in the Premier League.”

Whilst United find themselves just two points behind league leaders Manchester City, his side have faced criticism following the 6-1 defeat to their city rivals, as well their League Cup and Champions League exits to Crystal Palace and Basel respectively.

“The criticism has been understandable,” the 69-year-old added.

“You lose a derby game 6-1, you're knocked out of the [League] Cup and you lose to Basel, who aren't a powerhouse. You can understand the criticism.

“But we show the resilience and determination to do something about it, each time it happens. That says a lot about the character of the team.”

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