Just when it looked like Manchester United’s narrow title ambitions were ruined with the draw against Leicester City, the teams around them also slipped & failed to gain an advantage. Suddenly, there’s room to dream about a title challenge again. But to do so, United need to start winning games again.
They face a sturdy Wolves side who have been a real bogey team for them in recent years. Indeed, since they returned to the Premier League in 2018, Wolves have not lost a league game to the Red Devils. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer needs something special to change that & will hope that his side’s surging momentum picked up from the 6-2 thrashing of Leeds United is enough to grind out a win – which can do wonders for their title dreams.
Manchester United Likely XI
De Gea, Wan-Bissaka, Bailly, Maguire, Telles, Matic, Pogba, Bruno, Greenwood, Cavani, Martial
Victor Lindelof is unlikely to feature after picking up an injury against Leicester. Marcus Rashford could also miss it due to a shoulder problem. But after missing the last game, Aaron Wan-Bissaka could return into the starting XI.
Wolves Likely XI
Patricio, Semedo, Coady, Saiss, Marcal, Neves, Moutinho, Adama, Podence, Neto, Silva
Wolves big miss is their striker Raul Jimenez, who is still out with a broken skull. Left-back Jonny is also on the sidelines, while Leander Dendoncker & Willy Boly are also unlikely to start.
Manchester United vs Wolves Preview
After their big win over Leeds United at Old Trafford, Man United should be confident of the chances of turning around their fortunes at home. They now know the approach to partake to start winning games more regularly at Old Trafford.
With their next 4 games (in all competitions) at home, they’ll aim to get going strongly against the stubborn Wolves side. Nuno Espirito Santo’s side will definitely defend deep & their sturdy backline & excellent goalkeeper Rui Patricio are hard to get past.
Like they did last week, United need to start the game with a bang. They must maintain their attacking intensity and take risks in sending more men forward to destabilize Wolves’ commanding defensive shape. This game is going to be a special one for Bruno Fernandes.
It was in this fixture that the Portuguese midfielder had made his United debut in January. A lot has happened since. Bruno has consolidated himself among the best midfielders in the league, contributed more goals than games played & single-handedly raised the bar at the club.
He was frustrated by Wolves’ stubborn defence last time around but will aim to be a bigger menace to his Portuguese mates this time. He has of course grown more influential to United’s game over the months & aims to be a thorn with his presence in the final third. The Red Devils will definitely need him to create out-of-the-box chances and get into those dangerous pockets of space to open up opportunities for them.
Edinson Cavani should also get a start after his recent heroics. With his off-the-ball movement & predatorial instincts, he’ll be key in sniffing out opportunities & unlocking Wolves’ shape. Anthony Martial managed 2 assists the last time he played at Old Trafford and he’ll look to keep his creative spark shining by opening up chances for teammates & terrorizing Wolves with his tricky movement.
Mason Greenwood should replace Rashford, but the youngster needs to get more involved in the game. He needs to get into more central areas & carve out shooting opportunities to test the keeper. With Solskjaer possibly going with a more attacking shape, Paul Pogba should get a start to add that extra creative spark with his stunning through-balls & help his side dominate possession.
While they might be missing a lethal striker like Jimenez, Wolves’ attack still boasts impressive firepower. Adama Traore is a nightmare with his running and crossing ability, while Pedro Neto & Daniel Podence have proven to be hugely unpredictable threats with their scoring ability. Like Greenwood, young Fabio Silva also has the talent to do something special if given the opportunity.
Nemanja Matic should provide extra defensive cover, but United’s backline need to come up with a commanding performance. The Red Devils have conceded 2 goals in their last 2 PL games & that isn’t good enough.
Harry Maguire must start playing like a leader, leaping into challenges & form a stronger defensive shape to keep things solid. Alex Telles has a formidable battle against Traore, but this is the game where he proves whether he’s good enough to be a regular. Aaron Wan-Bissaka & Eric Bailly must prove their defensive strengths by shutting down the other attackers.
Wolves will mostly sit back and basically try to hit United on the counter-attack. The visitors could even be happy with one point, but OGS’ side can’t afford that. This is the kind of game that decides whether they’re worthy of competing for the PL title. The Red Devils need to be brave & unpredictable with their attacking style to come out on top, but persisting mistakes could result in another disaster at home.
Wolves look a bit vulnerable without many key stars. United are flying high & seem to be brimming with confidence. I’ll go with a narrow 2-1 win for the Red Devils to end their 2020 on a positive note.