United and Wolves shared the points today in an entertaining and oftentimes frenetic encounter at Old Trafford.
A sublime assist from Pogba set Fred up to put United ahead in the 18th minute. Sanchez’s speculative cross was cleared only as far as Pogba who, after feigning a volley, delicately cushioned the clearance into the path of Fred who smashed the ball past Patricio.
Although the opener may have come against the run of play, United soon grew into the game. For their part, Wolves continued to impress in possession. Jiménez constantly hassled Smalling and Lindelof while Shaw and Helder Costa engaged in a tantalising duel on the left which resulted in the Englishman being booked in the 40th minute.
Fred nearly doubled his personal goal tally and his team’s lead in the 46th minute with a scintillating freekick. Unfortunately for United, the Brazilian’s sublime effort was matched by an equally impressive save by Patricio who kept the deficit to one goal at half time.
Wolves equalised in the 53rd minute with a beautifully worked goal. Helder Costa was dogged in possession as he battled with Shaw on the byline before passing the ball to Jiménez in the six-yard box. The forward then deftly laid the ball off to Moutinho who expertly placed the ball in the top left corner of de Gea’s net.
Wolves looked shaky at the back in the closing stages with United reverting to a more direct route as they looked to feed balls to Fellaini and Lukaku. The late introduction of Traoré gave Wolves a counterattacking option but the forward failed to capitalise on some decent opportunities.
Wolves will be the happier of the two teams as the continue their impressive start to the season while United will be frustrated at not being able to capitalise on home advantage.
Sanchez’s miserable form continues
With no goals and only one assist since the start of the season, Sanchez continues to struggle since his move in January. Gone is the explosive creativity which characterised his impressive spell at Arsenal and the forward often cuts a forlorn figure as he fails to exert any influence on proceedings time and time again. The theory that the 29-year-old winger has already lost a yard of pace may be askew but the stats and poor performances speak for themselves.
Sanchez was weak in possession today, continually being dispossessed and at other time being wasteful with his distribution before being sacrificed for Martial in the 63rd minute. The Chilean has unfortunately become emblematic of United’s oftentimes lacklustre attack and the verdict so far is that he is overpaid and ineffective.
Fred the Red: Mourinho’s All-Action Midfielder
There has been much debate about Fred’s actual position in United’s three-man midfield recently. The Brazilian is a highly-energetic operator who seems to almost vibrate around the pitch, occupying a myriad of positions. At times, he occupies defensive positions alongside Matic while at other times he can be found gallivanting between the 8 and 10 midfield positions.
Neat in possession and a very accomplished tackler, Fred is eager to contribute to both offensive and defensive phases of play. Although he probably won’t win too many MOTM awards for his industrious and understated performances, Fred could well become the engine room of this new-look United midfield.
Wolves and The Portuguese Connection
Wolves have had a great start to their first season in the Premier League since 2011-12 with two wins, two draws and a loss before today’s match. While the stats themselves are impressive, it’s the manner in which Wolves have performed that will really excite their fans. Nuno Espírito Santo’s team play at a high intensity with a technical and tactical prowess which belies the club’s more agricultural footballing roots. Wolves are also defensively sound with their midfield four effectively shielding their back five when not in possession.
While the influence of agent Jorge Mendes may unnerve some Wolves fans, the club’s activity in the transfer market has been very impressive in recent years. Players such as Portuguese veteran Moutinho, Ruben Neves, Diogo Jota and Helder Costa have added a certain verve and confidence which newly promoted teams often lack. This was no more evident today as Helder Costa was instrumental in setting up Moutinho’s equalizer while Neves put in a very commanding performance.
With an exciting young manager, financial backing and an already impressive squad, Mourinho may well be correct in his prediction that Wolves will become a staple of the Premier League for many years to come.
Man of the Match: Wily Boly
The French defender put in a brave and commanding performance today. Boly’s positioning was excellent throughout and he made several crucial challenges to make sure Wolves took a point home from Old Trafford. A centre-half performance reminiscent of the greats.