Manchester United will be aiming to return to winning ways when they travel south to the Molineux to face off against Wolves this weekend in the Premier League.

The mood surrounding Manchester United at the moment is currently euphoric. Friday’s announcement that the Red Devils had reached an agreement with Juventus to re-sign club legend Cristiano Ronaldo has brought in a huge wave of excitement and optimism among the fans. However, the focus will now shift to matters on the pitch as Manchester United get set to take on Wolves in Matchweek 3 on Sunday.

After a blazing start to the campaign that saw them blow past Leeds United to a 5-1 win, Manchester United limped to a 1-1 draw against Southampton last weekend. And, manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be aiming to avoid another such outcome, especially with rivals Manchester City picking up steam, with consecutive heavy wins over Norwich City and Arsenal.

As for Wolves, the new era under Bruno Lage hasn’t taken off as per plans, as the Midlands outfit began their Premier League campaign with back-to-back 1-0 defeats to Leicester City and Tottenham Hotspur. While there were positives in both games, they need to convert those into victories, and the 4-0 win over Nottingham Forest in the Carabao Cup tie in midweek will certainly help matters.

The corresponding fixture last season was played on the final day of the campaign, with Manchester United emerging 2-1 winners with first-half goals from Anthony Elanga and Juan Mata. Ahead of the latest meeting between the two teams, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at both teams.

Team News & Tactics

Wolves

Wolves will have to make do without the services of Pedro Neto, Jonny Castro as well as youngster Hugo Bueno for the game against Manchester United. There are some positives, though, as Willy Boly is closing in on a return to action, as is Yerson Mosquera, although it is unlikely that the duo may feature on Sunday evening.

Under Bruno Lage, Wolves have played in a 3-4-3 formation so far and are unlikely to make any changes to the shape or tactics for the clash this weekend. Having rung in the changes to personnel for the midweek clash, the manager is expected to recall all his regulars when Manchester United come visiting.

That would mean summer signing Jose Sa returns in goal in place of John Ruddy, although the three-man backline of Max Kilman, Romain Saiss and captain Conor Coady will remain intact. How they deal with the movement and pace of forwards like Mason Greenwood and Jadon Sancho could have a telling impact on the proceedings.

Ki-Jana Hoever featured in midweek at right wing-back but is expected to make way for Nelson Semedo, who will look to keep Luke Shaw occupied on his flank. On the opposite wing, Marcal should replace Rayan Ait-Nouri in the lineup, while Ruben Neves and Joao Moutinho form the midfield double pivot for the hosts.

New signing Francisco Trincao is yet to make the desired impact since arriving from Barcelona but is likely to be backed again. However, he will be under pressure after Daniel Podence started and scored in midweek. Trincao ought to line up on the right flank while the dangerous Adama Traore will slot in on the left, with Raul Jimenez leading the line for Wolves.

Probable Lineup (3-4-3): Sa; Kilman, Coady, Saiss; Semedo, Neves, Moutinho, Marcal; Trincao, Jimenez, Traore

Manchester United

Manchester United will be without as many as four players for the trip to Molineux this weekend. Marcus Rashford, Alex Telles, Scott McTominay and Dean Henderson are all definitively ruled out of the contest. In addition, the defensive duo of Eric Bailly and Phil Jones are also unlikely to play a part, while Edinson Cavani could be in line for his first appearance of the season after having returned to training.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will set his team up in a 4-2-3-1 formation again on Sunday, with David de Gea continuing between the sticks in Henderson’s absence. There is no looking past the duo of Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Luke Shaw for the two full-back slots while captain Harry Maguire is nailed on to start at the back as well. This could be the game where star signing Raphael Varane makes his debut for the Red Devils at the expense of Victor Lindelof.

Fred had a poor game against Southampton last time out, as he scored an own goal. However, with McTominay ruled out and Donny van de Beek yet to feature this season, the Brazilian is likely to be retained in midfield. But he will be in for a change of partners, though, with Paul Pogba moving back into the midfield double pivot while Nemanja Matic drops out to the bench.

Bruno Fernandes is the undisputed starter for Manchester United in the No. 10 role, and the onus will once again be on him and Pogba to pick apart the Wolves backline. Meanwhile, another blockbuster summer signing, Jadon Sancho, could be in line for his first start of the season, lining up on the right flank while Jesse Lingard should get a run out on the left.

Mason Greenwood, who has scored in both of the games so far this term, will line up as the centre-forward for Manchester United, with Anthony Martial and Cavani both available as backup.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Varane, Maguire, Shaw; Fred, Pogba; Sancho, Fernandes, Lingard; Greenwood

Key Stats

  • Manchester United have lost just one of their last eight Premier League meetings with Wolves (W4 D3).
  • Wolves have not lost consecutive home league games against Manchester United since December 1967.
  • Manchester United are unbeaten in their last 27 Premier League away games (W17 D10). If they avoid defeat on Sunday, they will set a new record for the longest unbeaten away run in English Football League history.
  • Wolves have lost each of their last five Premier League games, scoring just one goal during the run. They have also lost five of their last seven league outings at the Molineux (W2).
  • Mason Greenwood has scored in both of Manchester United’s opening two games of the 2021/22 Premier League season. He could become just the second teenager to score in his team’s opening three games of a Premier League campaign after Robbie Fowler for Liverpool in 1994/95.

Player to Watch

Paul Pogba

Despite all the speculation surrounding his future at Old Trafford, the 28-year-old Frenchman has started the new season like a house on fire. Pogba has already assisted five goals for Manchester United in the Premier League this term, starting with four in the opener against Leeds, followed by another peach of an assist against Southampton.

It is the most ever by a player after two games of a season in the competition. His assist against Southampton last time out saw him equal Cristiano Ronaldo’s tally for the Red Devils in the Premier League (34). The 2018 World Cup winner has had a fine year so far and will need to carry on in the same vein of form if Manchester United are to taste success this season.

Pogba’s ability to see passes and engineer openings when on song, is absolutely unmatchable. And this quality will be needed in bundles on Sunday if the Red Devils are to get past a stubborn Wolves’ defence and pick up all three points.

Prediction

Wolves 0-2 Manchester United

Wolves enjoyed a solid game against Nottingham Forest in midweek, bagging a resounding 4-0 win. However, the level of opposition will be much, much superior when they take on Manchester United on Sunday. Despite the result against Southampton last weekend, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side oozes quality in abundance across all areas of the pitch.

Add to it, with Jadon Sancho potentially starting, the attack will take an even more menacing look, and with Edinson Cavani on the bench as an option as well, they go into the game as favourites. The Hard Tackle predicts a 2-0 win for the Red Devils, making it a record 28-game unbeaten run away from home in the Premier League.

Leave A Comment...

*