Manchester United face Wolverhampton Wanderers at the Molineux in the final Premier League match of the season on Sunday afternoon. United have already confirmed their second-placed finish in the league after their 1-1 draw with Fulham on Tuesday evening but only confirmed their place after Chelsea beat Leicester City later that evening. As it currently stands, Leicester have dropped out of the UEFA Champions League places with Liverpool breaking into the top four, having a better goal difference – it will be a tense final match of the season to see which team takes fourth place. Wolves have nothing to play for in this match but will want a home win.
United face Villarreal in the UEFA Europa League final on Wednesday, so there will be many players rested for this match and it is possible that the youth at the club and those coming back from injury get some minutes under their belts against Wolves with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer probably set on his XI for the final. As there is nothing to play for in this match, it would be the best way to go as another injury would severely hamper United’s chances of lifting the trophy in Gdansk. It has been a long tough season and considering where United started, there is an immense amount of pride in where they will finish – not matter what the haters say.
How United have faired against Wolverhampton Wanderers in the Premier League.
United and Wolves have met 13 times in the history of the Premier League. United have won seven times, drawing three times with Wolves winning three times. United have scored 21 goals against Wolves, winning two penalties and scoring just one of them. Wolves have scored nine goals against United, not yet winning a penalty against them. United have kept six clean sheets with Wolves heaping two. In terms of discipline, United players have been shown 18 yellow cards with one red card whilst Wolves players have been shown 16 yellow cards and one red card. Both teams will be seeking to win this match.
Earlier in the season, United beat Wolves 1-0 at Old Trafford in the Premier League with Marcus Rashford scoring the only goal of the match three minutes into added time, assisted by Bruno Fernandes. The last match between the two clubs at the Molineux was at the start of the 2019/20 season with the result a 1-1 draw. Anthony Martial opened the scoring in the 27th minute of the match, assisted by Rashford. Rúben Neves got an equaliser in the 55th minute of the match, assisted by João Moutinho. In the last five matches, United are undefeated against Wolves, but prior to that, had lost twice in a row in the league and the FA Cup.
Here is my predicted starting XI to face Wolves in the Premier League at the Molineux on Sunday afternoon…
Goalkeeper: Dean Henderson
Dean Henderson has had a largely positive season, despite that 4-2 defeat to Liverpool last week. He did not feature against Fulham on Tuesday so will be in line to start this match with David De Gea likely to start in the UEFA Europa League final against Villarreal on Wednesday. Henderson has made a positive start at United, making 25 appearances for the club, keeping 13 clean sheets and conceding 21 goals in all competitions. It is not the best but for a player that made his Premier League debut during the 2019/20 season, he is not expected to be as good as the likes of Peter Schmeichel or Edin van der Sar at this time, at least by the supporters of the club who know what to expect and do not rely on computer games to level expectation.
Defenders: Brandon Williams, Eric Bailly, Axel Tuanzebe, Alex Telles
The defence has suffered a big blow this season with the recent injury to Harry Maguire. United have conceded seven goals in the last three matches without the captain on the pitch. He’s likely to miss the UEFA Europa League final too, if you believe what Solskjaer says. There could be a game being played here – hopefully. Against Wolves, Brandon Williams and Alex Telles could feature in the fullback positions with no need to further tire Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Luke Shaw. Eric Bailly could play as the right-sided central defender with Axel Tuanzebe on the right – although he could be the player that steps in for Maguire if he is ruled out of the final on Wednesday, which is yet to be confirmed. It is not ideal but there is a more important match on the horizon.
Midfield: Ethan Galbraith, Donny van de Beek
The midfield would be better if the main players in the first team were rested. Scott McTominay and Fred normally feature here with Paul Pogba also featuring at times, when he has not featured on the left-wing. Against Wolves, keeping these players rested is important. Therefore, Ethan Galbraith should be starting for the club as he really is a talented midfielder and could show his manager what he is capable of ahead of pre-season and the new season, which I am sure many of these players will have involvement, especially pre-season because of the Euro’s this summer. Donny van de Beek could partner him in the midfield, adding some experience but also a player on the fringes of the first team. It will probably do for United.
Attacking Midfield: Amad Diallo, Hannibal Mejbri, Daniel James
Solskjaer should rest the liked of Bruno Fernandes and Marcus Rashford for this match as they will be better off being fully fit for the clash with Villarreal on Wednesday in Gdansk. Amad Diallo should be starting on the right-wing as he could use this match to show him the level that he would need to compete at next season, to get his place in the first team cemented – which will be tough. Hannibal Mejbri could all feature in the number ten position ahead of Fernandes. The Frenchman scored five goals and 10 assists at U23 level this season but he perhaps needs to control his anger at times. Daniel James should be back from injury and could start on the left-wing, giving this youthful side some experience in attack.
Forwards: Anthony Elanga
Anthony Elanga played well against Leicester City last week and he could be in line to start for United once again this season. It would be good to see more of him ahead of next season, when it is suggested that he will be a first team player, which shows Solskjaer has his eyes on him and is seeking a way to bolster his squad for the long, hard season they will feature in. At U23 level this season, Elanga scored 11 goals and four assists throughout the season, finishing as the top scorer for United at that level. It seems to be time for him to get more advanced football and that could be a good thing for him, especially with it likely to get more difficult for players at United after the summer transfer window.
Substitutes: Nathan Bishop; Will Fish, Alvaro Fernandez; Juan Mata, Nemanja Matic, Shola Shoretire, Zidane Iqbal; Mason Greenwood, Charlie McNeill
The final match of the season is not really a competitive one for United as their fate this season has already been sealed – a second-placed finish and qualification for the UEFA Champions League next season. The UEFA Europa League final is the match that the players will have their eyes on. With that in mind, Solskjaer can give many youth players a chance to feature at this level. Nathan Bishop could be the replacement goalkeeper. In defence, Will Fish and Alvaro Fernandez could be used. In midfield, Juan Mata. Nemanja Matic, Shola Shoretire and Zidane Iqbal could be in contention. The could leave both Mason Greenwood and Charlie McNeill on the bench in an attacking sense. Experimental but with experience in places.
Written by John Walker