MANCHESTER UNITED

v

WOLVERHAMPTON WANDERERS

Old Trafford, Manchester

December 10, 2011; 15:00 GMT

***

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After the Catastrophe in midweek, Sir Alex Fergusonai??i??s beleaguered Red Devils await Mic Mcarthyai??i??s Wolves. Manchester Unitedai??i??s season went from average to awful as FC Basel ended the Old Trafford clubai??i??s miserable run in this seasonai??i??s premier European competition- the UEFA Champions league. Now the focus shifts back to the league and Fergieai??i??s men donai??i??t even find time to heel their wounds, perhaps a blessing in disguise to take their minds away from that tragic night in Switzerland.

Wolverhampton Wanderers, on the other hand, have themselves flattered to deceive and just as their season was nose diving alarmingly, Steven Fletcherai??i??s match winning brace against the Black Cats must have infused new light among the Molinuex faithful. Wolves would be salivating at the sight of a United side who are probably at their lowest ebb and possibly there for the taking.

All roads lead to a fascinating duel at the Theatre of Dreams this weekend. Can Manchester United finally wake up from their deep alarming slumber or will Wolves prey on the wounded animal and conceivably finish off the title challenge for Alex Ferguson and his United side?

Team News and Tactical Brief

Manchester United

The night in Basel not only brought disappointment for Sir Alex, but it also struck a major injury blow as skipper Vidic suffered a knee ligament damage and will be out for a lengthy period of time. Vidic’s injury added him to the already long list of casualties in United’s medical ward with the likes of Anderson, Cleverley, Owen and Chicharito already among long term absentees. Also, Dimitar Berbatov and the Da Silva twins are still injured and are likely to miss the game on Saturday.

There aren’t too many options for the manager at the moment as far asAi??choosingAi??the first team is concerned given the number of injuries to the players. Michael Carrick is sure to return to the starting line-up after missing the midweek game due to suspension. He is likely to be paired alongside Fletcher with Jones moving back in defence after Vidic’s injury. Also, Giggs is likely to be benched after playing the full 90 minutes against Basel.

The biggest problem for Sir Alex and United has been the form of their wingers which has been way below par. With the evident lack of a world class attacking midfielder, the poor performance of the wingers is to be blamed for the lack of creativity for the Red Devils. Nani had been good in patches while the early season form of Ashley Young hasAi??deterioratedAi??far too quickly for anyone’s liking. However, the manager has been known to put his faith in his players in the past and he can be expected to do the same again on Saturday.

The defence, which looked settled since the return of Vidic, will be put to test again. It will be interesting to see whether the manager opts for Evans in the heart of defence or goes for young Smalling to partner Ferdinand. If Evans plays, Smalling will take his position at right back with Jones available as an option in midfield from where he has scored two goals in his last two games. De Gea should start in goal even after his error in the UCL game whileAi??Rooney and Welbeck are expected to start upfront.

Probable Starting Line-upAi??(4-4-2) :Ai??De Gea (GK); Jones, Smalling, Ferdinand, Evra; Nani, Carrick, Fletcher, Young; Rooney, Welbeck

football formations

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Wolverhampton Wanderers

Unlike his counterpart, Mick McCarthy does not have too many injury worries going into this encounter with only Jody Craddock amongst the first choice players missing the game. McCarthy has also reiterated that his star striker Kevin Doyle is fully fit and raring to go after making his return in the last game against Sunderland.

Usually, the managers tend to go with a 4-5-1 formation at Old Trafford but with United struggling to find form in front of goal, McCarthy is likely to go in with two strikers in the form of Doyle and Fletcher upfront. The manager is likely to use his wingers – Stephen Hunt and Matt Jarvis, who has troubled United in the past – as his main source of attack. Both men will be trying to get the ball in the box from wide areas with the strikers looking for every opportunity to get their head to the ball especially in the absence of Nemanja Vidic. Jamie O’ Hara and David Edwards are expected to be the central midfielders.

At the back, Roger Johnson is certain to start in central defence in place of Jody Craddock and will be partnered by Christophe Berra. Zubar and Ward will be the full backs but won’t be expected to go to far forward unless Wolves find themselves trailing in the game.

Probable Starting Line-upAi??(4-4-2) : Hennessey (GK), Zubar, Johnson, Berra, Ward; Hunt, Edwards, O’ Hara, Jarvis; Doyle, Fletcher

Key Facts

  1. United have had more points after fourteen games in only two of the Premier League seasons.
  2. This is Wolves’ best start to the Premier League campaign in terms of points scored after 14 games.
  3. The Red Devils have conceded just once in the league with Michael Carrick on the pitch – A penalty against Newcastle.
  4. Wolves have conceded most first half goals in the league this season while United have conceded the most in the second period.

TheHardTackleai??i??s PLAYER TO WATCH OUT FOR

Steven Fletcher (Wolves)

Wolves’ Saviour

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Feltcher has scored the most headed goals in the Premier League since the start of 2010-11 campaign and with Vidic out for the home side, the Scottish international must be fancying himself to add to that tally. Fresh from a brace in the last game, Fletcher could pose a lot of problems for the United defence.

TheHardTackleai??i??s PREDICTION

Manchester United 2-1 Wolverhampton Wanderers

It will be very hard for United to keep a clean sheet without their captain, but nonetheless they will be determined to put the European heartbreak behind them. With Old Trafford faithful guarded in the stands, the Red Devils will grind out another win to keep in touch with their neighbours who themselves face a tough trip to Stamford Bridge this weekend.

TheHardTackleai??i??s BLAST FROM THE PAST

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One Response to “Manchester United v Wolverhampton Wanderers Preview: Wolves Out To Put Red Devils’ Character To Test”

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  1. Anil says:

    Berbatov is available, and tipped to start tomorrow. We may see a 4-5-1 with Berba upfront and Rooney playing just behind him and also helping the midfield. Totally agree that the wingers have been disappointing off late and they need a kick in their back. Evra is another important player in this game. He has been off pace and lost the battle against some ordinary wingers this season, but as a captain he needs to step up his game and motivate the team from now on. Lindegaard can start which would take some eyes off De Gea, the poor lad needs a break from the media.