Anthony Martial was one of the few bright sparks for Manchester United as they were held to a 1-1 draw by Wolves at Molineux on Monday night.
Manchester United had a blister of a first half. Wolves just couldn’t get hold of the ball for long periods, which meant they were relegated to counter-attacks, albeit not by choice, as explained by their manager Nuno Espirito Santo in the post-match interview.
United, like they did in the pre-season and against Chelsea, pressed high and reaped rewards in terms of recovering possession deep into the Wolves half. The goal came through some neat passing between the United players. Marcus Rashford manoeuvred around the Wolves players with quick movement off the ball and through an able one-two.
The Englishman was then assisted by two neat runs, one from Anthony Martial from the inside and one from Scott McTominay from the outside. Rashford played the ball through in the danger area and Martial latched on to it before slotting it home with ease.
Wolves though, came back strong in the second half. But, the home side were just unable to break the United defence and the last line in the form of David fe Gea. Just when it seemed like Wolves were heading towards another goalless 90 minutes, Ruben Neves came up with the goods with another long-range screamer for the equaliser.
Manchester United earned a penalty via some neat play between Rashford and Paul Pogba. The latter however, seemed to ask for the penalty and Rashford agreed. The Frenchman proceeded to then have his penalty saved and the match then became an engagement wherein Wolves defended in numbers. United were just unable to score another and the game ended in a draw.
David de Gea – 6.5
The Spaniard definitely cannot be faulted for the goal that Wolves scored as the shot Ruben Neves hit was top corner and just not saveable. Apart from that, de Gea had just one more save to make, which he did comfortably. His distribution was very good and all in all, de Gea looks to be slowly getting back to his confident self.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka – 8
Quite possibly, Wan-Bissaka could turn out to be a bargain for the fee if he continues to perform at this level. Wan-Bissaka made 9 successful tackles in the match against Wolves, more than twice the number of tackles completed by anyone else on the pitch. The Englishman also completed two dribbles and was, in general, dominating on the right flank.
Victor Lindelof – 6.5
A routine performance from Victor Lindelof. This is the least you have come to expect from the Swede. Moved the ball well, with 93% passing accuracy and never looked out of position or caught dwelling on the ball. Did not have much to do and was good whenever he had to.
Harry Maguire – 7.5
Honestly, the two defensive signings made by Manchester United could be the difference for them this season. Maguire, like Wan-Bissaka, was brilliant and showed his aerial prowess. The English international won 6 headers and made the aerial zone his own against Wolves. Maguire completed the joint most number of passes.
Luke Shaw – 7
A better performance than the one against Chelsea. Shaw was dominant aerially and was a threat going forward as well. Was heavily involved in the build-up leading to United’s goal and seems to have a lot of space to run into, with Rashford and Martial preferring to cut inside. More of the same!
Scott McTominay – 6.5
McTominay has been incredible for Manchester United these two games. His presence in midfield is reassuring for the other stars and his ability to join with the rest of the attackers was key on Monday night. His run stretched out the Wolves defence and allowed Martial to slot the ball home for the goal.
Paul Pogba – 6.5
Pogba was back to his best against Wolves. Participating in attack but also playing the Quarterback role to say, with McTominay venturing forward more often than the Frenchman. But, it was Pogba who earned the penalty that could have restored United the lead and given all three points to the away side.
However, his penalty attempt was at a comfortable height for the keeper and there have been calls that Pogba shouldn’t have asked to take the penalty in the first place, with Rashford converting his with ease against Chelsea. Another mixed 90 minutes from Pogba.
Daniel James – 5.5
A poor first start for Daniel James in a Manchester United shirt. Received a yellow card for simulation and was in general, looking for excuses to fall to the ground throughout his performance. Had space while hugging the touchline a few times but could not convert it into a dangerous ball in the box. Couldn’t trouble Wolves much with his pace.
Jesse Lingard – 7.5
Lingard is often criticised for a lack of end-product. It was the same against Wolves, but the Englishman put in an incredible shift. The academy graduate tormented Wolves with his off-the-ball movement and ability to find teammates in close quarters. To have a passing accuracy of 87% in the role that Lingard plays was excellent.
But, beyond the numbers, Lingard is in the team for his ability to press high and that is exactly what he did. Wolves were just unable to play their game and were constantly under threat of losing the ball to Lingard, Rashford and Martial in their own third. A vintage performance from Lingard, whose work often goes unnoticed.
Marcus Rashford – 7
Was quieter than usual. More lively first half compared to the second. Rashford’s link-up play was exquisite at times and his ball for Martial’s goal outlined his growth from being a striker to an inside forward. But, Rashford cannot afford to go missing in portions of the game and should have ideally, stepped up and taken control of the penalty situation.
Anthony Martial – 7.5
Anthony Martial’s first half vs. Wolves by numbers:
89% pass accuracy
AM9 is clinical. 👌 pic.twitter.com/pCCBPfuoJ4
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) August 19, 2019
Mint Martial is back again! The Frenchman started a bit shakily. But, he took the goal well and there was no looking back since. Martial completed 4 dribbles, the highest of any Manchester United player and joint-highest in the game. Was dispossessed a few times but all in all, Martial connected with Rashford well, with the duo seemingly starting to create a bond that will serve United well in the future.
Juan Mata – 5
Mata came on with less than 10 minutes of regulation time left. But, he just looked out of rhythm and pace. The Spaniard was caught on the ball once and gave away the ball with poor passes on a couple of occasions when United were looking to threaten the Wolves goal. A poor cameo.
Mason Greenwood – N/A
Did not have much time to affect the result but could have done better after coming on. Lost the ball a couple of times while going forward, which was crucial at that point of time.
Andreas Pereira – N/A
Pereira should’ve been brought in way before when he came. The Brazilian’s arrival immediately saw United winning the midfield battle once again and while there wasn’t much time to do anything, ideally, Solskjaer should look to bring changes in with some minutes to spare in the games to come.