Manchester United will be aiming to start building a winning run again when they travel to the Molineux to take on Wolves on Tuesday night.
The games continue to come thick and fast as the penultimate month of the club season begins this week. The abridged Gameweek 32 of the 2018-19 Premier League season sees one of the games from the next matchday being moved forward as Wolves play hosts to Manchester United at Molineux on Tuesday.
Wolves have been one of the surprise packages of the season, which has particularly been characterised by their performances against the best of sides in the Premier League. Nuno Espirito Santo’s men have already beaten Tottenham and Chelsea in the league, while Liverpool and Manchester United have been their victims in the FA Cup.
Now firmly in control in the race to finish seventh, a win will be imperative for Wolves, especially after their 2-0 loss to Burnley at the weekend that left them a mere two points ahead of 11th-placed West Ham United. Manchester United, on the other hand, need all three points to return to the top four, with Arsenal beating Newcastle United on Monday.
The Red Devils’ recent form has been a bit concerning, with the spark missing from their attacking play, while the midfielders have stagnated a bit as well. United did beat Watford 2-1 in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s first match in-charge as permanent boss, but will need to do even better to take all three points away from Molineux.
The reverse fixture, played at Old Trafford in September, saw Manchester United being held to a 1-1 draw by Wolves, courtesy of a late Joao Moutinho goal. Ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the Premier League encounter.
Team News & Tactics
Nuno Espirito Santo has a luxury that managers crave for at this stage of a season. The Wolves manager has his entire first-team squad at his disposal for the visit of Manchester United on Tuesday, with Ryan Bennett available after serving his two-man suspension.
The English defender should slot into the back-three straightaway, replacing Roman Saiss in defence. The rest of the backline is expected to be unchanged, with Conor Coady and Willy Boly keeping their places. Rui Patricio is unlikely to be rested either, meaning he starts in goal once again.
The changes, keeping one eye on the upcoming FA Cup semi-finals against Watford, should start coming into effect in the middle of the park, with Matt Doherty reclaiming his place as the right wing-back. On the opposite flank, Jonny Castro might end up conceding his place to Ruben Vinagre.
In the thick of things, however, the first-choice trio of Leander Dendoncker, Joao Moutinho and Ruben Neves should continue, although Saiss provides an option. Up ahead in attack, Raul Jimenez will be set to return to the starting lineup after being rested against Burnley. The Mexican international should have Helder Costa as his strike partner.
Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Patricio; Bennett, Coady, Boly; Doherty, Dendoncker, Neves, Moutinho, Vinagre; Costa, Jimenez
Unlike his counterpart in the Wolves dugout, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer does have a few concerns to deal with ahead of the trip to Molineux. On Tuesday, the Manchester United manager will be without four first-team players, although none of them are exactly regular options.
Those who miss out for the visitors are Eric Bailly (head), Matteo Darmian (knock), Antonio Valencia (calf) and Alexis Sanchez (knee). In fact, there is more good news than bad for Manchester United, with Victor Lindelof available after missing the game against Watford due to personal reasons.
Lindelof should face Wolves on Tuesday, slotting back into the heart of the Manchester United defence alongside Chris Smalling. Ashley Young is likely to continue as the right-back, while Luke Shaw will be hoping to continue the form he displayed this past weekend.
In midfield, the first-choice trio of Paul Pogba, Ander Herrera and Nemanja Matic should retain their places despite not quite being at their best last time out. Fred and Scott McTominay would hope to be in contention but might have to suffice with a place on the bench.
Jesse Lingard is likely to line up on the tip of the midfield diamond, replacing Juan Mata. Upfront, both Anthony Martial and Romelu Lukaku are fit after shrugging off their niggles. But, Lukaku might get the nod in attack to partner Marcus Rashford.
Probable Lineup (4-1-2-1-2): de Gea; Young, Smalling, Lindelof, Shaw; Matic; Herrera, Pogba; Lingard; Lukaku, Rashford
- Wolves, who knocked Manchester United out of the FA Cup last month, are looking to beat the Red Devils twice in the same season for the first time since 1979-80.
- Manchester United have earned more Premier League points than any other side since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer replaced Jose Mourinho. Their tally of 35 is one more than Liverpool over the same period.
- Wolves have won just one of their last six Premier League matches (D3 L2). But, they are unbeaten in seven home games in all competitions, winning six of them.
- Wolves have earned 10 points against the established top six, more than any of the other teams outside that group (W2 D4 L3).
- The last time United failed to beat a promoted side either home or away in a Premier League campaign was in 2002-03, when they drew at home and lost away to Manchester City.
Player to Watch
For a long time, Paul Pogba had been the symbol of Manchester United’s turnaround under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. But, since being sent off in the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 first leg against PSG, it seems as if a switch has been turned off, with the Frenchman being rather subdued.
Pogba was far from his best last Saturday as well, as the Hornets’ plan to crowd him out proved to be successful. To make matters worse, talks of an impending exit in the summer transfer window have not helped one bit. Therefore, it is imperative that Pogba tuns back the clock and rediscovers the form of two months ago, if Manchester United are to get the better of Wolves.
Wolves 1-2 Manchester United
Wolves may have been successful in the last meeting between the two sides, but they have been rather sombre in their last few Premier League games. Additionally, Nuno Espirito Santo will surely have one eye on the FA Cup semi-final tie against Watford, which should surely impact the hosts.
Manchester United, on the other hand, have no such commitments to look forward to, which might just be what they need to end their short-lived (so far) Wolves curse. The Hard Tackle predicts a 2-1 win for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer & co. to return to the top four.