Manchester United vs Wolves Preview

Manchester United to start 2022 with a win over Wolves?

Manchester United return for their first game of 2022 on Monday evening against Wolves. United ended 2021 with an almost effortless win over Burnley with McTominay running the show at Old Trafford. United got three early goals and despite Aaron Lennon spoiling the clean sheet, United seemed relatively comfortable throughout the game. This was arguably the first time United have been totally dominant and largely unthreatened in a second half all season.

A lot of people have said this was an average performace. Quite the opposite for me. United won the game in the first half and easily could have scored more but passed it around with confidence and efficiency. This type of performance would be even more impressive if replicated against Wolves as they have far more threat upfront with Traore and Jiminez. Wolves have done well this season and have impressed. However they have only beaten West Ham and Brighton of the eight teams ahead of them but remain solid with only 1-0 losses to City, United, Spurs and Liverpool. This won’t be an easy ask for Rangnick’s reds but will earn the team a much needed win in the race for Top Four. Here’s all you need to know:

Match Information:

Teams: Manchester United and Wolverhampton Wanderers
Date: Monday 3rd January 2022
KO Time: 17:30GMT
Stadium: Old Trafford
Managers: Ralf Rangnick and Bruno Lage
Referee: Mike Dean

Team News:

Manchester United

Manchester United remain without Paul Pogba as he continues to regain fitness following his thigh injury. Victor Lindelof could make a return on the bench as Eric Bailly jets off to the AFCON with Amad for the Ivory Coast. Bruno Fernandes is back after his one game suspension but Fred, Luke Shaw and McTominay could all face suspension with another booking and need to just last one more match before being suspended.

Wolverhampton Wanderers

Wolves will remain without Fabio Silva due to COVID-19. Ait-Nouri is close to a return but will not be ready for the United game. Jonny and Mosquera remain out until February and Neto and Boly are unavailable too. Wolves will certainly remain with Marcal at LWB with both other left sided full-backs out with injury. Wolves have not played since the 19th of December due to multiple COVID cases and so could be out of steam and out of sync as we saw United suffer against Newcastle. It will be interesting to see how they perform and if they struggle to get going in the second half.

Interesting Facts:

  • Manchester United have won three games in a row against Wolves all by one goal margins. In fact, every win by United or Wolves since their promotion in 2018 has been by one goal margins with the highest scoring game being 2-1.
  • In Wolves’ last seven games, there has only been one goal scored at most. The last time Wolves lost by a two goal margin was a 2-0 defeat to Crystal Palace in early November.
  • The last four United goals against Wolves have been different goalscorers; Greenwood, Mata, Elanga and Rashford.
  • Adama Traore has not registered a goal or assist this season. He has not done so since early May against Brighton.

Manchester United vs Wolves Predicted XI:

I think Rangnick will make a few changes. The backline should only swap Bailly for Varane as the rest of the backline looked mostly solid for the match. There have been questions over Maguire again but to be honest he is so important for our ball progression and aerial threats that I don’t think you can. He made one or two minor errors against Burnley but I think keeping him in the team is more beneficial than leaving him out.

In midfield, McTominay and Matic impressed and allowed McTominay to progress further forward. It remains unclear if Matic can play straight after this or if Rangnick will return to McTominay and Fred. He could even go for Matic and Fred.

In attack, Ronaldo has played 180 minutes last week and could be rested for the FA Cup match against Aston Villa. Edinson Cavani could start as the main striker with Fernandes behind him. He is wasted in those wide playmaking roles and is better as the focal 10. Sancho and Greenwood were very impressive too and should retain their starting positions and allow Rashford to come on if they underwhelm or need a rest.

Predicted XI (4-2-3-1): De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Varane, Maguire, Shaw; Matic, McTominay; Greenwood, Fernandes, Sancho; Cavani

Predicted Score:

Manchester United can certainly put Wolves to the sword if they bury their chances. Against Burnley they were almost wasteful at times as Ronaldo could have had three and McTominay forced Hennessey into two great saves after his early opener. Wolves are returning from their COVID outbreak and could take a while to get going but have the dangerous Traore and Jiminez upfront. It will be narrow but United should edge it as they did at the Molyneux.

United to win 1-0

Author: Arjun Handa

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