Manchester United will be desperate to return to winning ways when they welcome Wolverhampton Wanderers to Old Trafford on Saturday.
The games continue to come thick and fast in the Premier League, with Gameweek 36 kicking off on Saturday. The latest round of fixtures will begin at Elland Road, where Leeds United and Newcastle United will face off. And the action will continue at Old Trafford, where Manchester United will host Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Manchester United seemed to be cruising to a top-four finish at one point, especially after the momentum-boosting League Cup triumph. But they have blown hot and cold in the last two months. And the Red Devils have won just one of their last four Premier League games, with the recent defeat to West Ham United leaving them looking over their shoulders, with Liverpool only a point behind.
On the other hand, Wolverhampton Wanderers have alternated between a win and a loss in the last few weeks. But the victories have helped Julen Lopetegui’s men steer clear of the drop zone. And the surprise 1-0 victory of an in-form Aston Villa has helped the Black Country outfit breach the magic 40-point mark. And relegation will no longer remain a worry for the visitors.
The reverse fixture saw Manchester United eke out a narrow 1-0 win over Wolverhampton Wanderers at the Molineux. And The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the encounter ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides.
Team News & Tactics
🚨 Erik ten Hag confirms Marcus Rashford is a doubt for this weekend
"Big question mark for tomorrow." ❌ #MUFC pic.twitter.com/bc06P3ABfb
— Football Daily (@footballdaily) May 12, 2023
Erik ten Hag has greeted a mixed bag of updates on the team news front ahead of his side’s latest fixture. Against Wolverhampton Wanderers on Saturday, the Manchester United manager will be bereft of the services of six first-team players.
The good news is that Raphael Varane is fit and available after recovering from an ankle injury. But the Dutchman is sweating over the fitness of Marcus Rashford, who has been dealing with a leg injury this week. And the Englishman will unlikely feature in the starting eleven this weekend.
Meanwhile, Tom Heaton (ankle), Phil Jones (knee), Lisandro Martinez (foot), Donny van de Beek (knee), and Scott McTominay (knock) remain on the sidelines. So ten Hag remains without several pivotal figures in the run-in.
There is no looking past David de Gea between the sticks, with Manchester United lining up in a 4-2-3-1 formation in front of him. And the fit-again Varane should return to the starting eleven, forming the central defensive partnership with Victor Lindelof. Luke Shaw will thus return to his favoured left-back berth, with Aaron Wan-Bissaka continuing on the right flank.
As for the midfield unit, the week-long rest means Christian Eriksen and Casemiro will pair up in the double pivot. Both players have been sub-par in the last few weeks and need to step up their performance levels in the last few games of the 2022/23 season.
Meanwhile, Bruno Fernandes will be the most advanced midfielder for Manchester United. And the Portuguese international will pull the strings in the final third for the hosts. Rashford’s fitness issue means Jadon Sancho might get a chance to impress. And Antony and Anthony Martial will complete the numbers in the final third.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): de Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Varane, Lindelof, Shaw; Casemiro, Eriksen; Antony, Bruno Fernandes, Sancho; Martial
Unlike his counterpart in the Manchester United dugout, Julen Lopetegui barely has any issues to deal with ahead of the trip to Old Trafford. The Wolverhampton Wanderers manager will be without three first-team players on Saturday.
Chiquinho and Sasa Kalajdzic remain on the sidelines for the foreseeable future due to their respective knee injuries. In addition, Boubacar Traore will likely miss out on Saturday due to a lack of match fitness.
Jose Sa is an automatic pick between the sticks, with Wolverhampton Wanderers lining up in a 4-4-2 formation in front of him. And the backline should consist of Nelson Semedo, Toti, Max Kilman and Craig Dawson.
Heading north on Saturday.
— Wolves (@Wolves) May 11, 2023
The quartet will look to remain compact at the back while denying any space to exploit to Manchester United. But Semedo will have the creative freedom for when Wolverhampton Wanderers charge forward.
Matheus Nunes has done well as a wide midfielder in the last few games. And while he will remain compact during the defensive phases, his wide role will help the visitors stretch the play. And Pedro Neto will look to trouble Manchester United with his directness in the final third.
Ruben Neves and Mario Lemina should pair up in the central areas on Saturday. And the former will pose a threat with his long-range shooting. Finally, Diego Costa and Matheus Cunha should be the two strikers for Wolverhampton Wanderers against Manchester United on Saturday.
Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Sa; Semedo, Dawson, Kilman, Toti; Neto, Neves, Lemina, Nunes; Costa, Cunha
- Manchester United lost the corresponding exact fixture 1-0 last season. They have not lost consecutive home league games against Wolverhampton Wanderers since a run of three between March 1960 and September 1961. The away side has won each of the last four Premier League meetings between Manchester United and Wolverhampton Wanderers, although three of those victories came for the Red Devils at Molineux.
- Wolverhampton Wanderers have lost 10 of their last 11 Premier League games away from home against sides starting the day in the top four (D1) since winning 2-0 at Manchester City in October 2019. They have scored just four goals in those last 11 matches while shipping 23.
- Manchester United have won 24 matches at Old Trafford in all competitions this season. Only in 2002/03 (27), 2007/08 (25) and 2010/11 (26) have the Red Devils ever enjoyed more home wins in a single campaign.
- Wolverhampton Wanderers have only won two of their last 21 Premier League away games (D6 L13), losing their last two in a row, including a 6-0 defeat at Brighton & Hove Albion most recently. Since the first of their last 21 league outings on the road in April 2022, they have earned fewer points in those games in the Premier League than any other ever-present side in this period (12).
- Manchester United have kept a clean sheet in each of their last five Premier League home games, last recording more in a row from May to October 2017 (6), and last doing so within a single season from December 2009 to March 2010 (7).
Player to Watch
With Marcus Rashford’s availability in doubt, the onus will be on Bruno Fernandes to deliver the goods on Saturday. The Portuguese international has created 34 chances for Marcus Rashford in the Premier League this season.
Since Opta made this data available (from 2006/07), only two players have created more for a single teammate in one campaign in the competition: Christian Eriksen for Harry Kane in 2017/18 (40) and Troy Deeney for Odion Ighalo in 2015/16 (39). But with Rashford unlikely to feature for most of Saturday’s game, Fernandes will have to do it all on his own. It will be interesting to see if he steps up.
Manchester United 1-0 Wolverhampton Wanderers
Games featuring Manchester United and Wolverhampton Wanderers seldom dish out a glutton of goals. The last nine meetings between the two sides have featured only ten strikes. And the situation will unlikely change on Saturday.
Wolverhampton Wanderers will barely give an inch at the back, while Manchester United’s defence is formidable at home. But Bruno Fernandes should make the difference, finding the back of the net midway through the game. And that strike will help Manchester United eke out a 1-0 win this weekend.
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