3 wins on the bounce, 7 goals scored and only one conceded. Was the 3-0 defeat against Spurs the kick up the arse this United side needed?
It’s still a little too easy to say, as we haven’t played any of our likely rivals in the table since that drubbing 4 weeks ago, but ever since United have been on the up, and a win against an in-form Wolves side would add some validity to the claim that United have got that early season ‘funk’ out of their system.
The two league wins against Burnley and Watford were followed up by a comfortable 3-0 over Swiss champions Young Boys on Wednesday night in the Reds’ first Champions League fixture of the season. There was yet another captain’s performance from Paul Pogba, as the instrumental midfielder scored two and set up the third for his French compatriot Anthony Martial. There were also strong performances from the returning Luke Shaw and the debutant Diogo Dalot, and Fred slotted back into the midfield nicely after being dropped for the last few games.
Wolves come into the game at Old Trafford off the back of two successive one nil wins, away at West Ham and at home to Burnley. The newly promoted side have played some beautiful attacking football, but they lack a clinical striker in front of goal. Wolves had 30 attempts in the game against Burnley, but only seven were on target and just the one from Raul Jiminez managed to beat Joe Hart.
If Wolves want any chance of causing an upset at Old Trafford, they’ll have to be more clinical in front of goal, especially with the world’s best ‘keeper in between the sticks for United.
At the other end, the back three of Conor Coady, Willy Boly and Ryan Bennett look as if they’ve played together their whole careers. There’s rarely, if ever, a misplaced pass between the three, and Wolves can boast having conceded just once in their last three games, much like the Red Devils. United’s front three, which I expect to be Jesse Lingard, Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez, will have to put immense pressure on the back three at all times in order to force them into mistakes and capitalise.
I expect Saturday’s game to be a tough one, as Wolves are a solid outfit all over the field. Ruben Neves and Joao Moutinho can run the midfield at will, and Matt Doherty and Jonny Otto have become an excellent wing-back tandem.
That being said, the pieces are slowly starting to fall into place for United. Their top players are beginning to build some form, and thanks to Chris Smalling and Marouane Fellaini of all people, the defence seem more assured and confident compared to the calamity we saw at the Amex against Brighton.
I fully expect United to come away with a fourth win in a row here, but it will be far from easy against a side who have already taken points from the champions this season.
Predicted Scoreline: Manchester United 2-1 Wolves
Predicted United Line-Up: De Gea; Valencia, Smalling, Lindelof, Shaw; Fellaini, Fred, Pogba; Lingard, Lukaku, Alexis.
Predicted Wolves Line-Up: Rui Patricio; Bennett, Coady, Boly; Doherty, Neves, Moutinho, Otto; Costa, Jimenez, Jota.