Who: Manchester United vs Wolves
When: Saturday, February 1st @ 12:30pm ET
Line: Manchester United +115 | Draw +230| Wolves +160
Manchester United’s last fortnight has been…..eventful. After the loss to Liverpool, they suffered consecutive league losses for the first time this season being shocked by Burnley (of all teams) at Old Trafford.
But the recent 6-0 thrashing of League Two side Tranmere Rovers rejuvenated their confidence. The last task before the two-week winter break is a formidable one. Wolves travel back to Old Trafford after being knocked out of the FA Cup by the Red Devils.
They’ll be eyeing revenge after coming up short the last time. With United reeling, Wolves are going to pack a strong punch to earn a result capable of helping them leapfrog the hosts in the Premier League. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer must raise above the heat to grind out a result for Champions League equation to remain on the table.
Manchester United Likely XI
De Gea, Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw, Fred, Matic, Lingard, Mata, Greenwood, Martial
Marcus Rashford, Paul Pogba & Scott McTominay remain out till the end of the winter break. But apart from them, United have no injury worries.
Wolves Likely XI
Patricio, Doherty, Dendoncker, Coady, Saiss, Jonny, Moutinho, Neves, Traore, Jimenez, Jota
Wolves will only perhaps be missing one known first-teamer, with Ruben Vinagre doubtful for the trip to Old Trafford.
Manchester United vs Wolves Match Preview
Let’s not act like that 6-0 FA Cup win fixes anything for United. The Red Devils still need quality signings to have a chance at cracking the top four or winning any silverware this season. That being said, even IF (that’s a HUGE if) United can complete one or two signings before the game, those players won’t be able to feature against Wolves.
The visitors also come in the more fresher side having last played on Thursday, while United sandwiched to play two more games (FA Cup & mid-week Manchester Derby) before their clash. So OGS must keep working with his thin-as-ice squad and shape them to be as clinical as they were at the weekend.
Anthony Martial’s reputation as a world-class centre-forward is coming under serious doubt. With opposition #9 Raul Jimenez scoring goals left, right & centre, the Frenchman’s struggled to maintain consistency. After a stinker against Burnley, he’ll be hungry to redeem himself.
He did net against Wolves in the reverse league fixture, but facing off against formidable centre-backs without Rashford or Pogba to guide him makes things even harder this time around. Martial must make best use of whatever he gets, try using his dribbling & creativity to churn out definite chances for himself.
But those around need to help him soar. Juan Mata ran Wolves ragged in the FA Cup last time, as he must put in a similar industrious shift to open up their backline. Mason Greenwood should feature after impressing against Tranmere. He must make best use of his unpredictable movement and clinical finishing to trouble Wolves’ compact backline.
Jesse Lingard netted his first goal of 2020 which gave him some confidence. With Andreas Pereira’s poor form, he might get the job for linking United’s attacks swiftly & causing the visitors problems with his energy. Fred & Nemanja Matic have a formidable challenge against the visitors stacked midfield, as they must be clever & strong to keep them from running riot.
But Wolves aren’t the side to be shackled in chains. They’re the kind of team you’d love to root for- as long as it’s not against your team. Nuno Espirito Santo aims to use that Liverpool result as an encouragement to throttle his side to take the fight to United at the weekend.
Considering how average they were in the FA Cup tie, he’ll demand them to rediscover their lethality. Jimenez is a goal-machine. He can score or create them just as easily. His off-the-ball movement, positioning sense & excellent finishing ability is guaranteed to be a thorn at United’s side.
To make things worse, Adama Traore is in beast mode. He made Andy Robertson– a no-nonsense defender himself- look foolish last week. Luke Shaw’s defensively shaky & not so quick, so he must be assertive in order to keep him from running riot.
Diogo Jota is their X-Factor in attack, while Ruben Neves & Joao Moutinho bring enough spice & creativity to their midfield. Wolves’ excellent full-backs often burst forward to box out opposition, which is exactly what they’ll look to do to get points out of Old Trafford.
United must bring their absolute best to the table. Harry Maguire needs to marshal his backline into negating their attacking intensity, while David De Gea must put in another superman performance to redeem his reputation. But regardless of however well they defend, unless the Red Devils’ attackers can capitalize on their own chances, Wolves will surely take some points home.
At this stage, I honestly don’t think United have enough firepower to overpower a resolute side like Wolves. Unless the visitors shoot themselves in the foot with grave errors, I think both sides will split the points with a 1-1 draw.