Wolverhampton Wanderers vs Manchester United
Referee: Jon Moss
TV: Sky Sports Main Event
Manchester United carry the momentum of their 4-0 opening day triumph over Chelsea to Wolves where they seek redemption and aim to avoid another David and Goliath defeat which they encountered at Molineux twice last season.
Wolves endured a goalless draw after VAR fairly disallowed a second-half goal against Leicester on the opening weekend. A tightly contested game saw the Foxes and Wolves cancel each other out with both sides producing few real chances – Nuno introduced new signing Cutrone in the dying embers of the match leaving little chance to impact a stagnant match.
As for United, the scoreline initially flattered Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men as they started slowly against Frank Lampard’s Chelsea. However, their recovery helped them to capitalise using the counter attack to grab two quick successive goals and secure them the victory. Chelsea’s attacking style was perfect for Paul Pogba to pick off the Blues coupled with the lack of defensive cover but it’s unlikely they will be greeted with the same openness at Molineux.
Both teams registered a clean sheet on the opening weekend which will go down better with United considering Wolves were well organised and hard to break down. Ole won’t be expecting his team to face an open attacking Wolves opposition but he will be well aware they can make chances. Wolves bettered United in the Premier League and FA Cup at Molineux, both fixtures ending 2-1. The reverse fixture saw the two teams take a share of the points in a one-all draw in which Wolves could have left with all three points.
The black country side secured most of their loanees from last season, who were regular features, and have not lost any of their regular XI so they will be entering this game fired up knowing they went undefeated against United last season.
The Red Devils have pivoted once again with a focus on youth and developing players and whilst they could have selection issues as they still discover their best eleven, their big victory against Chelsea will instill confidence in Ole’s squad.
Nuno Espirito Santo started his regular XI rather than fielding any summer signing’s last weekend and they were able to keep a clean sheet at the King Power. Their mid-week Europa qualifier second leg against Pyunik saw them make nine changes from their league opener too.
As a result, it’s likely Nuno will name an unchanged side from the most featured starting XI of the Premier League last season. Coady and Moutinho started in the Europa clash which leaves a risk that fatigue may make them unavailable for Wolves’ first home game of the Premier League season.
Unless the debutants seriously impress Nuno, it is likely he will stick with his guns and field the same team that started against Leicester. Arguably Diogo Jota’s place is at risk as his wasted chances against the Foxes which would have only further frustrated Nuno. Traore and Cavaleiro were the back up plan when Jota and Jimenez weren’t striking but Neto and Cutrone are new options who could feature against United.
Manchester United’s injury list is occupied by Fosu-Mensah and Eric Bailly who are facing another lengthy spell away from the team sheet. After last weeks impressive victory, there could be pressure on Solskjaer to keep the same starting XI. However, he may be tempted to bring back Nemanja Matic in place of the Brazilian Andreas Pereira. His impressive performance against Chelsea has staked his claim to keep his place however, the more defensive nature of Wolves’ midfield may call for more strength in the middle of the pitch.
While Alexis Sanchez is working his way back to match fitness, his recovery may be futile if he’s fighting for a place in the United squad. The Chilean may be on the way out of the club which could play a role in Ole’s decision to select him.
Alex Tuanzebe was on the bench keeping Phil Jones and Chris Smalling out of the squad last weekend whilst Harry Maguire and Aaron Wan-Bissaka both had impressive debuts and played the full 90 minutes meaning it’s likely they will start at Molineux.
Rashford and Martial successfully led the front line both contributing to three of United’s goals – their pace and versatility of wide and central play could help open up a tight Wolves backline. Daniel James got the fourth goal after replacing Andreas Pereira with a quarter of an hour to play and recorded the games top speed of 33.51km/h. This cameo could put him at the forefront to get a full debut against Wolves. Scott McTominay got the Red Devil’s only goal in this fixture last season and started alongside Pogba last week, continuing his impressive performances for the club.
Predicted Starting XIs
Wolves (3-5-2): Rui Patricio; Bennett, Coady, Boly; Doherty, Dendoncker, Neves, Moutinho, Castro; Jimenez, Jota
Man United (4-3-1-2): De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Maguire, Lindelof, Shaw; Pereira, McTominay, Pogba; Lingard; Martial, Rashford
Score Prediction: Wolverhampton Wanderers 1 – 2 Manchester United
The Red Devils are full of confidence following the opening weekend and I expect them to carry on this momentum and make it two wins from two.