Wolves vs Manchester United Preview | Predictions, Stats and Key Players

Wolves vs Manchester United Preview | Predictions, Stats and Key Players

Manchester United will look to end the year on a high with a win over Wolverhampton Wanderers. Although the home side are in the bottom three, this game will be trickier than it would have been before the international break due to the recent appointment of Julen Lopetegui. The former Real Madrid and Spain manager has taken over in the Midlands. He has an impressive track record and there will be belief that he can lead Wolves to safety. For the visitors, it is important to maintain their positive momentum, as they are one point off the top four. They need to maintain the pressure on those above them heading into the new year.

It has been a strange season for Wolves. There was optimism during the summer after some impressive signings, including Matheus Nunes. However, the side have looked stale and haven’t carried the attacking threat required to win matches. Lopetegui is an experienced coach, who should be able to breathe life into the playing squad. In his first Premier League match, Wolves looked good and managed to win away from home at Goodison Park. The late winner will have improved the mood within the squad. Lopetegui will hope to get more consistency out of the squad, as they are have the quality to climb the league table.

The exit of Cristiano Ronaldo has had a lifting effect on the club. He was continually being spoken about before the World Cup break and that became an issue for Erik ten Hag. Although his attacking options have been weakened, he can coach without the side show that Ronaldo caused. They returned to Premier League action with an impressive win over Nottingham Forest. Marcus Rashford continued his good World Cup form, while Anthony Martial got on the scoresheet. For the time being, the pressure will be on that pair to provide the goals.

Interesting stats

Joao Moutinho doesn’t score many for Wolves, but two of his five Premier League goals have been scored against Manchester United.

Manchester United haven’t lost their final match of a calendar year for ten years.

Key men

Neves

The Portuguese international is entering the final six months of his contract. It looks unlikely that he will be a Wolves player next season, but he remains their best and most consistent player. Given their precarious league position, they can’t afford to sell him in the January transfer window, even if an attractive bid came in for him. Lopetegui will be hoping that he can convince Neves to sign a new contract. However, at the age of 25, he will want to test himself at a higher level. For his own personal ambitions, it is important that he plays well in matches against the top six teams, as that will prove that he can influence matches against the better teams in the division. He is Wolves’ top scorer with four goals, which underlines why the club are in the bottom three. Neves isn’t a regular goal-scorer, but he can chip in with key goals. If Wolves are to climb the table, they will need one of their attackers to step up to take the load of Neves. Manchester United’s midfield looked strong against Forest. If Wolves are to get something in the game, they need to disrupt Manchester United in that area of the pitch. In Neves, they have a player that can do that.

Rashford

There were fears that Marcus Rashford could be going the same way as Dele Alli, as he struggled in the last couple of seasons. This year, he has been reborn and looks to be as good as he has ever been. Since returning from the World Cup, he has scored in both matches for United. Against Forest, he even managed to grab the assist for Martial’s goal. That pair have been very good for United at times, with an understanding existing between them. The arrival of Ronaldo disrupted the attack at Old Trafford. The global superstar was forced into the team and that limited the attacking output of the rest of the squad. With him now gone, it can be hoped that Rashford and Martial will return to their best. England may regret not using Rashford more at the World Cup, as he looked electric every time he was on the pitch. 2023 could be Rashford’s greatest year as a professional yet, if he manages to maintain his current standards. Wolves will look to frustrate United, but Rashford has the dynamism and confidence to make things happen on the pitch. He is the club’s current top scorer with five goals. He will be hoping to significantly increase this number over the rest of the campaign.

Team news

Boubacar Traore, Jonny and Daniel Podence are all doubts for the New Year’s Eve clash. Sasa Kalajdzic and Pedro Neto are still a few months away from a return to action.

Lisandro Martinez has rejoined the squad and he could make his first appearance as a World Cup winner. Victor Lindelof and Scott McTominay are both doubts with illness. Diogo Dalot faces a late fitness test to prove he is ready to play. Jadon Sancho remains unavailable for selection.

Verdict

It is difficult to predict this game, as we still have a lot to learn about Lopetegui at Wolves. His track record suggests he will prove to be a very good appointment, but it can take time to coach patterns of play. Manchester United do much better when allowed to play on the counter attack. Wolves are going to let them have the ball, so it could be a tight game with few goals. United should have the quality and confidence to take the three points, but it won’t be a great watch for the neutral.

Wolves 0-1 Manchester United