Preview: Onana and Mount to make their debuts against Wolves? United out to start strongly?

Manchester United -v- Wolverhampton Wanderers

Premier League

Old Trafford, Manchester

Monday 14 August 2023, KO 20:00 BST

Manchester United are back in Premier League action at Old Trafford on Monday evening. Erik ten Hag has so far made three additions to his squad in the form of goalkeeper Andre Onana, midfielder Mason Mount and striker Rasmus Hojlund. There have been some departures from the club too with David De Gea, Phil Jones, Axel Tuanzebe, Alex Telles, Fred, Zidane Iqbal, Charlie Savage and Anthony Elanga have all left the club with more to follow.

United will be seeking to start strongly in the Premier League this season with an eye to mounting a title challenge, which might come too early for Ten Hag’s side. United lifted the Carabao Cup last season also reaching the final of the Emirates FA Cup, but were defeated by rivals Manchester City. Ten Hag will be seeking to create something with this United team he has built with the aim of adding more silverware this season – which is a distinct possibility.

Wolves recently sacked their manager, Julen Lopetegui who was at the club for about nine months, hiring former Bournemouth manager Gary O’Neil – so United will face another team with the new manager bounce, which happened so often last season. Wolves finished 13th in the league last season with United finishing third. Both teams will be seeking to do so much better this season but Wolves will need to find some kind of stability to do that, in my opinion.

United – Form, Goals Scored & Assists

Athletic Club 1-1 D, Lens 3-1 W, Borussia Dortmund 3-2 L, Real Madrid 2-0 L, Wrexham 3-1 L, Arsenal 2-0 W

Goals: 2 – Antony, 1 – Casemiro, Diogo Dalot, Noam Emeran, Bruno Fernandes, Marc Jurado, Joe Hugill, Facundo Pellistri, Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho, Donny van de Beek

Wolves – Form, Goals Scored & Assists

Stade Rennais 3-1 W, Luton Town 0-0 D, Celtic 1-1 D, Porto 1-0 W, Blackpool 2-0 W, Farense 1-0 W

Goals: 2 – Matheus Cunha, 1 – Rayan Ait-Nouri, Nathan Fraser, Joao Gomes, Hee Chan Hwang, Neto, Pablo Sarabia,

Previous Meetings & Connections

United and Wolves have met 18 times in the Premier League. United have won 11 times, drawing three times with Wolves winning four times. United have scored 27 goals, winning three penalties; scoring two of them. Wolves have scored 11 goals; not winning a penalty. United have kept nine clean sheets with Wolves keeping three. United players have been shown 32 yellow cards and one red with Wolves players shown 27 yellow cards and one red.

United beat Wolves twice in the Premier League last season. It was a 1-0 victory for United at the Molineux on New Year’s Eve with Marcus Rashford scoring the only goal of the game – assisted by Bruno Fernandes. At the Theatre of Dreams in May, United won 2-0 with goals from Anthony Martial, assisted by Antony and Alejandro Garnacho, assisted by Fernandes. Ten Hag will be seeking more of the same from his United side this season – starting strongly.

Jim McCalliog, Scott McGarvey, Darren Ferguson, Paul Ince, Denis Irwin, Darron Gibson and Cameron Borthwick-Jackson have all played for United and Wolves during their careers. Irwin and Ince are probably the more well-known players having both done well at United during their times at the club. Ince never left United for Wolves, he signed later in his career after playing for Inter Milan, Liverpool and Middlesbrough post-United.

Team News

Dean Henderson (thigh), Tom Heaton (other), Tyrell Malacia (muscular), Kobbie Mainoo (ankle/foot), Amad Diallo (knee), Anthony Martial (thigh) and Rasmus Hojlund (lower back) are all out of the squad for the opening Premier League match of the season. Heaton, Amad and Mainoo seem to have no return dates with Malacia, Martial and Hojlund likely to be back in action before the end of this month and Henderson out of action until mid September.

United will be a different team this season following the departure of David De Gea with Ten Hag opting to bring in a goalkeeper who will better play from the back. Both Onana and Mount will be the only new arrivals this summer that could feature for United with Hojlund out of action for a few weeks. There could be more arrivals for United following departures, which will set up the squad for the 2023/24 season, which should be much better than last season.

Wolves do not have any injury concerns ahead of Monday’s Premier League opener at the Theatre of Dreams. It is a good position for Gary O’Neil to be in ahead of what will be considered a big game for him and Wolves. There have been some big changes for Wolves this season with Conor Coady, Nathan Collins, Raul Jimenez and Ruben Neves have all departed for pastures new, while Diego Costa, Joao Moutinho and Adama Traore are free agents following the expiry of their contracts.

Predicted United Starting XI – 4-2-3-1

Onana;

Wan-Bissaka, Varane, Martinez, Shaw;

Casemiro, Mount;

Antony, Fernandes, Garnacho;

Rashford

Predicted Wolves Starting XI – 4-3-3

Sa;

Doherty, Kilman, Toti, Ait-Nouri;

Nunes, Lemina, Gomes;

Neto, Cunha, Guedes

Match Prediction

United will be seeking to get all three points in the bag at the Theatre of Dreams on Monday evening – starting the 2023/24 Premier League season in style. United need to have a good start in the league this season and with the recent past showing Wolves as a tricky team, it is important for United to get this right. Wolves have many new faces in their squad this season and it could work from the get go or take a bit of time for the squad to gel together, but I am sire they’ll be ready.

Old Trafford became a fortress under Ten Hag last season, losing once and drawing three times in the 19 matches played there in the Premier League. United did not start on good form last season with defeats to Brighton and Hove Albion and Brentford which gave Ten Hag a shaky start to his debut season at the club – but it soon started to fall into place with United mounting a challenge for the title for a short period of time on their way to finishing third.

United had a positive pre-season if you look at the number of matches played and the strength of the squad that was utilised across all eight matches. United won four of them, drawing once and losing three times. Whilst there has been some changes at the club, United will be seeking to start on the front foot and put something together in order to close the gap on the likes of Manchester City and Arsenal with a view to challenging for the Premier League title soon.

Manchester United 3-0 Wolverhampton Wanderers

Written by John Walker

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I support Manchester United, the greatest English football team to have ever existed. Bruno Fernandes is the latest in a long line of players with great ability to play for the club. I idolised Bryan Robson, David Beckham, Paul Scholes, and Eric Cantona growing up.