Wolverhampton Wanderers -v- Manchester United
Molineux Stadium, Wolverhampton
Saturday 31 December 2022, KO 12:30 GMT
Manchester United travel to the Molineux on New Year’s Eve where they will face Wolverhampton Wanderers in the Premier League in their final match of 2022. Since the return to club football after the FIFA World Cup. United have beaten Burnley 2-0 in the Carabao Cup and Nottingham Forest 3-0 in the Premier League. Erik ten Hag’s side will be seeking to end 2022 in style with another win which will apply pressure to Tottenham Hotspur, who face Aston Villa on New Year’s Day.
Prior to the Forest match, Spurs were four points ahead of United with the Old Trafford club also having a game in hand. The victory over Forest saw United shrink the gap to just one point which could see United lift themselves into the top four of the Premier League with a victory over Wolves. However, that could be short-lived if Spurs beat Villa as their goal difference is superior to United’s. It would show a massive improvement for United though.
Ten Hag’s side will need to achieve top four in the Premier League as a bare minimum this season to achieve UEFA Champions League football once again. Anything other than that will be a failure. The good thing for United at this time is that the Glazer’s are seeking to sell United, which will be great news if it actually happens in early 2023. Having those greedy, money-grabbing sellouts out of the club will be the best present ever. Meanwhile, United will have to keep the spirits high.
Manchester United – Form, Goals Scored & Assists
Nottingham Forest 3-0 W, Burnley 2-0 W, Fulham 2-1 W, Aston Villa 4-2 W, Aston Villa 3-1 L, Real Sociedad 1-0 W
Goals: 10 – Marcus Rashford, 5 – Anthony Martial, 3 – Antony, Bruno Fernandes, Cristiano Ronaldo, Jadon Sancho, 2 – Christian Eriksen, Fred, Alejandro Garnacho, Own Goal, Scott McTominay, 1 – Casemiro, Diogo Dalot
Assists: 7 – Christian Eriksen, 4 – Marcus Rashford, 2 – Casemiro, Bruno Fernandes, Alejandro Garnacho, Anthony Martial, Cristiano Ronaldo, Luke Shaw, 1 – Diogo Dalot, Anthony Elanga, Scott McTominay, Jadon Sancho, Aaron Wan-Bissaka
Wolverhampton Wanderers – Form, Goals Scored & Assists
Everton 2-1 W, Gillingham 2-0 W, Arsenal 2-0 L, Leeds United 1-0 W, Brighton and Hove Albion 3-2 L, Brentford 1-1 D
Goals: 4 – Rúben Neves, 3 – Daniel Podence, 2 – Rayan Aït-Nouri, Raúl Jiménez, Adama Traoré, 1 – Gonçalo Guedes, Boubacar Traoré
Assists: 2 – Hwang Hee-chan, Nélson Semedo, 1 – Rayan Aït-Nouri, Hugo Bueno, Gonçalo Guedes, João Moutinho, Matheus Nunes, Daniel Podence, Boubacar Traoré
Previous Meetings & Connections
United and Wolves have met 16 times in the Premier League. United have won nine times, drawing three times with Wolves winning four times. United have scored 24 goals, winning three penalties, scoring two. Wolves have scored 11 goals, winning no penalties. United have returned form the World Cup in good form with two victories under their belt against both Burnley in the Carabao Cup and Nottingham Forest in the Premier League. Wolves have beaten Gillingham and Everton.
United have kept a total of seven clean sheets with Wolves keeping three. There has been some disciplinary issues with United players shown 26 yellow cards and one red card. Wolves players have been shown 24 yellow cards and on red card. Wolves have been a bogey side for United in the recent history of both teams playing and under Julen Lopetegui, they could become that bogey side once again for United. Ten Hag will want to end 2022 in style.
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.
Axel Tuanzebe and Jadon Sancho will both remain absent for the visit to Wolverhampton on New Year’s Eve. Tuanzebe is preparing to make his return from injury and Sancho is still readying himself for the second half of the season after some personal problems. Lisandro Martinez recently returned to training following Argentina’s FIFA World Cup victory but will be subject to a late fitness test although he has a 75% chance of featuring against Wolves.
Victor Lindelof and Scott McTominay both missed the victory over Nottingham Forest through illness and will to be subject to late fitness tests. Currently they both have a 50% chance of being involved at the Molineux on Saturday. Diogo Dalot returned from the World Cup with a thigh injury and has a 25% of featuring against Wolves which makes it seem likely that Aaron Wan-Bissaka will continue in the right-back position for the foreseeable future.
Sasa Kalajdzic, Pedro Neto and Chiquinho have all been ruled out of the clash with United due to injury. Daniel Podence and Boubacar Traore will both be subject to a late fitness test and have a 50% chance of featuring against United this weekend. Jonny will also be subject to a late fitness test but has a 25% chance of featuring, which makes it less likely he will play against United in the last match of 2022 at the Molineux. Wolves will be motivated by their form under their new manager.
Predicted Manchester United Starting XI – 4-3-3
Wan-Bissaka, Varane, Martinez, Shaw;
Fernandes, Casemiro, Eriksen;
Antony, Martial, Rashford
Predicted Wolverhampton Wanderers Starting XI – 4-3-3
Semedo, Collins, Kilman, Aït-Nouri;
Nunes, Neves, Moutinho;
Hee-Chan, Costa, Podence
United and Wolves have met 109 times competitively during the history of both clubs with the first match played back in 1892 – a 10-1 victory for Newton Heath. United have won 52 times, drawn 20 and lost 37 times. United lost the last match 1-0 which opened 2022 with João Moutinho scoring the only goal of the match just eight minutes from time. It was a poor match for United. Prior to that, United were undefeated against Wolves in seven matches – winning four and drawing three.
Before that seven-match unbeaten run, United last lost against Wolves back in April 2019 with Diogo Jota and a Chris Smalling own goal cancelling out Scott McTominay’s 13th minute opener. United have improved since that time and are a much better team than they were back in January 2022 when they last played Wolves. That said, Wolves have another new manager and will be full of confidence following their 2-1 victory over Everton but their first defeat has to come at some time.
United will need to play in a similar fashion to how they faced Forest on Tuesday evening – pushing for the victory from the very start. I think a 4-3-3 formation would benefit United with Bruno Fernandes, Casemiro and Christian Eriksen in the midfield with Antony, Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford as the three forwards. United have all the ingredients to win this match and with Raphael Varane already back and Lisandro Martinez on the return, it should boost United.
Wolverhampton Wanderers 1-3 Manchester United
Written by John Walker