Manchester United are once again on the road in the Premier League on Sunday afternoon as they travel to face Wolverhampton Wanderers at the Molineux Stadium. Last weekend, a 1-1 draw with Southampton at St Mary’s saw United equal Arsenal’s 27-match away unbeaten record in the league, meaning that if they avoid defeat against Wolves, the record will be theirs. This will be a good weekend for United, who are fresh from the announcement that Cristiano Ronaldo will be returning to the Theatre of Dreams this summer after leaving Juventus and being linked with Manchester City, which seemed likely to happen then on Friday morning, rumours were rife and by the afternoon, United made the announcement that Ronaldo is coming home. What a day. United need a midfielder this summer, but might not end up with one – which is a shame.
At the time of writing, United sit tenth in the Premier League table with four points from a possible six. A victory over Wolves with give them seven points and keep them up their in the top quarter of the table, which is what Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be seeking ahead of the first International break of the season. The summer transfer window will close on Tuesday evening here in the UK so there is time for something to happen, but whether it does will be reliant on whether United can offload players who do not really have much of a future at the club. It has not happened so far this summer, so seems unlikely but after what happened on Friday, never say never. United’s start to the season has been better than last season, but there is still a long way to go. Solskjaer’s side got positive news of their UEFA Champions League group too, so onwards and upwards.
Previous meetings with Wolverhampton Wanderers and their connections with Manchester United.
United and Wolves have met a total of 14 times in the Premier League. United have won a total of eight matches, drawing three with Wolves winning three times. United have scored 23 goals, winning three penalties and scoring two of them. Wolves has scored ten goals and are yet to win a penalty against United. The Red Devils have kept a total of six clean sheets with Wolves keeping two. Despite so few matches being played in the Premier League, the discipline issues between the two clubs is high with United players being shown 19 yellow cards and one red card and Wolves players being show 20 yellow cards and one red card. This match will be a tricky one for United, as all matches against Wolves are. United won 2-1 in this fixture last season, winning 1-0 at Old Trafford. It is set to be another close encounter against a team that can be difficult.
In recent history, there have been a few players to have played for both United and Wolves. In the 1973/74 season, Jim McCalliog was sold to United for just £60,000, making 38 appearances and scoring seven goals for the club. Scott McGarvey was loaned to Wolves in the 1984/85 season with Darren Ferguson, the son of Sir Alex Ferguson, being sold to the club in he 1993/94 season. Paul Ince, who had previously played for United, signed for Wolves as a free agent in the 2002/03 season, the same season that Denis Irwin left United after making 529 appearances, scoring 33 goals in an almost 12 year stay at United. More recently, Darron Gibson was loaned to Wolves in the 2007/08 season with Cameron Borthwick-Jackson the last player to be loaned to the club during the 2016/17 season. There will be more history between the club, if you do a deeper dive.
Here is my predicted starting XI to face Wolverhampton Wanderers in the Premier League at the Molineux on Sunday afternoon…
Goalkeeper: David De Gea
David De Gea has played in the first two Premier League match of the season and looks set to continue in goal against Wolves on Sunday. Despite conceding twice in the last two matches, United have played well, as has the Spaniard. He has made some good saves and seems to be in control of his area after a turbulent time at United and the fact he seems to have lost his place in the Spain squad, at least at this moment in time to Unai Simon, who played in both Euro 2020 and the Olympics for the country. De Gea will be determined to keep his number one position at United this season, despite the challenge from both Dean Henderson and Tom Heaton, who both have good qualities in the position. Solskjaer will have some good rotation options for the season, which bodes well as United will be seeking to challenge on all four fronts in their pursuit of a trophy.
Defenders: Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Raphael Varane, Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw
The long-awaited debut for Raphael Varane could happen on Sunday against Wolves. It has been a fortnight since his signing was announced ahead of that 5-1 victory over Leeds United and despite being on the bench last weekend, he was an unused substitute. Starting in the centre of defence with his new partner, Harry Maguire could bring a new calmness and assured way of playing from the back, which could be good for United. Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Luke Shaw look set to keep their places, although Diogo Dalot will be on the sidelines seeking his chance in other position with the injury to Alex Telles keeping him from challenge Shaw in the left-back role and the loan spell of Brandon Williams at Norwich City for the 2021/22 season. It could be a good season for United, who also have Victor Lindelof, Eric Bailly and Phil Jones to rely on.
Midfield: Nemanja Matic, Donny van de Beek
The midfield is a problem area for United at this time. Scott McTominay could be out for a month or longer after groin surgery this week, which is problematic but also gives other players a chance to form a bond in this position. It seems to be good for Donny van de Beek, who should start in this match alongside Nemanja Matic, who has rested for the past week and should be able to play once again. It may not be ideal as United need a new midfielder to challenge on all fronts this season, but it is something that has to be tried for the benefit of the team. Of course, Victor Lindelof could play a defensive midfield role, which he has done at Benfica 22 times, scoring three goals and two assists from the position. Some will rule this out but nothing tried, nothing ventured, right? United should bring in an enforcer type player who could allow his partner to play freely.
Attacking Midfield: Jadon Sancho, Bruno Fernandes, Paul Pogba
Excitement is coming. Jadon Sancho could start his first match for United against Wolves. He has featured against both Leeds United and Southampton over the past fortnight but needs to start to find his feet in the Premier League, which will be a challenge for him. Last season in the Bundesliga, he managed 16 goals and 20 assists in all competitions, so has the skill and determination to raise his game in the Premier League. Bruno Fernandes already has a hat-trick this season and will be seeking to find more goals for United, especially after a disappointing display against the Saints last week. His excitement will be raised with his compatriot, Cristiano Ronaldo returning to the Theatre of Dreams this summer. Paul Pogba has five assists so far this season and will be looking to improve on that. He’s in some good form at this stage, which is admirable and needs to last.
Forwards: Mason Greenwood
Mason Greenwood has started the season with two goals in two matches, which shows the breakthrough he has made since earning his debut at the club. Under Solskjaer, he has become a player that oozes confidence, desire and determination and is always looking for space to assist or even score goals. It is great to see yet another academy graduate make the first team and have the talent to reach high levels in the game. Having him at the club this season will be a bedding in period for him as he will be seeking to play a more central role when he can, which has happened because of Edinson Cavani coming back late after playing in Copa America and having more time off in his native Uruguay. In year or two, Greenwood could become a household name in the same way as Marcus Rashford before him, trending on the same path to greatness.
Substitutes: Tom Heaton; Victor Lindelof, Diogo Dalot; Juan Mata, Jesse Lingard, Fred, Daniel James; Edinson Cavani, Anthony Martial
Nine players are now to be named on the bench in the Premier League with three of them able to be used in matches. Solskjaer will have some depth on the bench, especially with the new signings in the starting positions and Cristiano Ronaldo yet to implement in the squad. Tom Heaton will likely be the goalkeeper on the bench as he travelled with the first team. In defence, Victor Lindelof and Diogo Dalot could be available with Eric Bailly missing out due to fitness. In midfield, Juan Mata, Jesse Lingard (who could be days away from leaving the club), Fred and Daniel James (who could also leave next week) will be available. In the forward positions, Edinson Cavani could feature for the first time this season with Anthony Martial the other forward, despite the fact his season has started poorly with supporters wondering if he himself could leave?
Written by John Walker