|Wolves vs Manchester United -FA Cup.
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Saturday 4th January 2020, Wolverhampton Wanderers host Manchester United in the FA Cup third round at Molyneux in an intriguing encounter. Wolves have experienced mixed fortunes recently in the Premiership. Nuno Espirito Santo’s team head into this game on the back of just two wins in their last six games. Despite their recent poor run of form, the side from the Midlands are still seventh place in the table, just a point behind the visitors, who are fifth-place. Wolves have a recent excellent record in the FA Cup as they reached the semi final last season and lost 3-2 in extra time to Watford. As far as home records are concerned Wolves are unbeaten in their last four matches with three wins and a draw. Their last defeat in the FA Cup at home was against Chelsea in 2017.
The inaugural FA Cup tournament kicked off in November 1871, and was won by Wanderers in the final at Kennington Oval on 16 March 1872. Manchester United have won the FA Cup on 12 occasions – a feat bettered only by Arsenal’s 13 triumphs – and have appeared in the final 19 times in total. The Reds are also the only club to appear in an FA Cup final in every decade since the War. A nine-year absence from the FA Cup final ended in May 2016 when Louis van Gaal’s United team travelled south to Wembley to face Crystal Palace. After both sides cancelled each other out for much of the contest, the Eagles took a shock 78th-minute lead through Jason Puncheon, only for Juan Mata to equalise three minutes later. In extra-time, the Reds suffered another blow when Chris Smalling was sent off for a foul on Yannick Bolasie but Jesse Lingard’s superb winner ensured the 10 men claimed the trophy for the 12th time in the club’s history.
United’s performances have proven frustratingly inconsistent with another defeat at Arsenal in the League, which was not the ideal way to start a new decade especially after the promising end to 2019. The Red Devils have now won two and lost two of their previous four outings in all competitions. Their away record in particular leaves a lot to be desired, having won just two of their last seven games in all competitions. Solskjaer has stated the season intention is to finish in the the top four however the performance against Arsenal its difficult to see how the Red Devils can close the gap on the teams jostling for the all important Champions Leagues spot. The FA Cup offers Solskjaer and his team the opportunity to win some silverware and lift a sense of disappointment with regards to the current Premier League campaign. Manchester United’s recent record in the FA Cup is a mixed one, winning five of their last eight games. However, last season the Red Devils suffered a 2-1 defeat at Molineux in the fifth round of this competition after beating both Arsenal and Chelsea on the road in previous rounds.
Wolves have proven to be difficult opponents and Man Utd have not been able to get a win in their past four meetings with the team from the Midlands. Team selection is always key bearing in mind that three days later the Red Devils face their derby rivals Man City in the Carabao Cup semi final. The Paul Pogba injury is the latest to hit the squad with an admission that key playmaker Scott McTominay’s injury is worse than what was initially suspected and he could be ruled out of action for a few months. This leaves the midfield area in particular very vulnerable and may force Man Utd into the transfer market to find one or two midfield players.
Predicted Man United line up is as follows:
Sergio Romero, Ashley Young, Phil Jones, Harry Maguire, Brendan Williams, Nemanja Matic, Fred, Juan Mata, Andreas Pereira, Mason Greenwood, Anthony Martial
Predicted result Draw 2-2