Manchester United will travel \south to the Molineux Stadium where they take on Wolves in their final game of the 2020/21 Premier League season this Sunday.
The last round of fixtures of the 2020/21 Premier League season will be played out on Sunday and runners-up Manchester United will be in action against Wolverhampton Wanderers at the Molineux Stadium in what will pretty much be a dead rubber of a contest.
Wolves have seen a substantial dip from their past couple of seasons, with injuries to key personnel, especially Raul Jimenez, hampering Nuno Espirito Santo’s side a great deal over the course of the campaign. As a result, the Black Country outfit, who are in 12th place following back-to-back defeats to Tottenham and Everton are set to finish in the bottom half of the table.
While there may not be much left to play for, Wolves will want to give a proper send-off to Nuno, who confirmed earlier this week that he will be on his way out at the end of the campaign. With fans in attendance as well, a win would be a proper farewell gift to the Portuguese tactician who has done a marvellous job at the Molineux despite the struggles of this season.
🇵🇹 Led Wolves to Premier League in first year
🇵🇹 Highest league finish in 39yrs with 7th
🇵🇹 First FA Cup semi final in 21 years
🇵🇹 Clubs best European run since 1972
🇵🇹 Built up stars like Jimenez, Jota, Neto & Coady
Nuno Espirito Santo leaves Wolves as a legend 👏 pic.twitter.com/O1eBCxQhC2
— GiveMeSport (@GiveMeSport) May 21, 2021
As for Manchester United, the Red Devils sealed second spot earlier this week despite the draw to Fulham as Leicester City lost to Chelsea. It has been a season of progress for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer once again with the team improving on their third-placed finish in the league last term and making it to the finals of the UEFA Europa League as well, which takes place next week.
So, while they do not have much at stakes ahead of Sunday’s game, they could use it as practice for the big game at Gdansk against Villarreal and warm up with a win, especially after having gone without a victory in their last three (D1 L2). There is also the matter of protecting their unbeaten record away from home, having not lost a single game on the road in the Premier League in 2020/21.
The reverse fixture, played in December last year, ended in a 1-0 win for Manchester United courtesy of a stoppage-time winner from Marcus Rashford. Ahead of their latest outing on Sunday, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at both teams.
Team News & Tactics
🇲🇽 Raul back in full training
🦂 Saiss doing 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐬
— Wolves (@Wolves) May 22, 2021
Wolves will be without as many as five first-team stars for the clash against Manchester United as Pedro Neto, Daniel Podence, Jonny Castro, Owen Otasowie and Raul Jimenez all miss out, although there is good news with regards to Jimenez as he is back in training after being cleared.
Nuno, in his penultimate game in charge against Everton, reverted to a back three and is likely to continue with a similar system on Sunday when Manchester United come visiting. There is no looking past Rui Patricio in goal for the Midlands club, with the Portuguese international set to be protected by a back three of Max Kilman, captain Conor Coady and Romain Saiss.
Summer signings Nelson Semedo and Rayan Ait-Nouri ought to be the two wing-backs on the right and left sides, respectively, from where they will look to provide attacking width at pace. Ruben Neves and Joao Moutinho will form the midfield partnership, with the former looking to quell the impact of Manchester United’s creators while the latter looks to fashion openings in the attacking half.
Vitinha will have a key role to play slotting in as the No. 10, with the Portuguese looking to exploit the space between the lines to cause Manchester United grief. The two-pronged attack should once again see Fabio Silva and Adama Traore feature, with January signing Willian Jose set to be an option from the bench.
Probable Lineup (3-4-1-2): Patricio; Kilman, Coady, Saiss; Semedo, Neves, Moutinho, Ait-Nouri; Vitinha; Traore, Silva
Manchester United will welcome Daniel James back into the fold on Sunday afternoon, but captain Harry Maguire and striker Anthony Martial still remain unavailable. Midfielders Fred and Scott McTominay picked up injuries last time out against Fulham but are expected to be fit and available for the trip to the Molineux Stadium.
With second spot sealed, we can expect Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to make wholesale changes to his regular starting XI to protect the players for the Europa League final. In goal, Dean Henderson ought to return after having made way for David de Gea in the last match against Fulham.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) May 21, 2021
Almost the entire backline will bear a new look, with Eric Bailly set to replace Victor Lindelof as Axel Tuanzebe’s partner at the heart of the Red Devils’ defence, flanked by the full-back duo of Brandon Williams and Alex Telles, who should come in at the expense of Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Luke Shaw, respectively.
Despite both Fred and McTominay being fit, they are unlikely to be risked on Sunday, with Donny van de Beek and Nemanja Matic occupying the starting berths in the double pivot, while Juan Mata comes into the side as the No. 10 at the expense of Bruno Fernandes.
Amad Diallo and Anthony Elanga, both of whom made their full debuts recently, ought to get the nod yet again on the flanks with James and Marcus Rashford expected to play some part off the bench. Mason Greenwood, who has been in fine touch of late, gets the chance to lead the line and stake a claim for a starting berth in Gdansk. Under-23 Player of the Year Hannibal Mejbri could be set for his senior bow at some point on the afternoon.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Henderson; Williams, Baily, Tuanzebe, Telles; van de Beek, Matic; Amad, Mata, Elanga; Greenwood
1. Over 2.5 Match Goals @ 1.80
1. Full-time Result – Draw @ 3.75
- Manchester United have lost just one of their last seven Premier League meetings with Wolves (W3 D3), going down 2-1 at Molineux in April 2019.
- Wolves have alternated between winning (3) and not winning (D1 L2) in their six Premier League home games against Manchester United, with the last such meeting ending 1-1.
- If Manchester United avoid defeat, they will become just the fourth side to remain unbeaten away from home across an entire English top-flight campaign, after Preston (1888-89), Arsenal (2001-02) and Arsenal again (2003-04).
- With Raul Jiménez in the team this season (up to the end of November), Wolves had won 50% of their Premier League games (5/10). Since his injury, Wolves have won just 26% of their league games (7/27).
- With 18 goals and 12 assists this season, Bruno Fernandes has become just the fifth player to register 30+ goal involvements in a single Premier League campaign for Manchester United, after Eric Cantona in 1993-94 (30), Cristiano Ronaldo in 2007-08 (37), Wayne Rooney in 2011-12 (31) and Robin van Persie in 2012-13 (35).
Player to Watch
— United Update (@UnitedsUpdate) May 21, 2021
It has not been the easiest of seasons for young Mason Greenwood, who has to go through some difficult times off the pitch, which in turn affected his form on it in the early parts of the campaign. However, the teenage forward has shown great resolve and strength to bounce back and strongly, and has returned to somewhere near his best in recent weeks.
In 51 appearances across all competitions this season, Greenwood has produced a return of 12 goals and 6 assists, with seven of those coming since April. While he has seemingly done enough to earn a starting berth in the UEFA Europa League final next week, another strong display against Wolves this weekend would only serve to enhance his chances of being in the lineup in Gdansk.
Wolves 1-2 Manchester United
Neither team has been in the best of form leading into Sunday’s game, with Wolves losing their last two and failing to score in three of their last five games. However, they could fancy a run at a patched-up Manchester United defence, that has looked quite vulnerable in the absence of Harry Maguire in the past couple of games.
Mason Greenwood, though, has been in good form of late and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has plenty of firepower to choose from if need be, thus giving the Red Devils an advantage, not to forget their top form on the road either. A narrow win for the Red Devils should be on the cards, spoiling Nuno Espirito Santo’s farewell party.