Manchester United vs Wolverhampton Wanderers Preview: 5th take on 7th in a potentially tasty matchup
Photo by Alex Livesey via GettyImages

Manchester United return to Old Trafford on Saturday afternoon, as the Red Devils will host Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Both teams are only six points behind Chelsea in the race for the 4th and final Champions League qualifying spot, so this upcoming contest will surely be a crucial one.

United were eliminated from the Carabao Cup on Wednesday night, falling to Manchester City on aggregate after only winning 1-0 in the second leg.

They dug themselves a deep hole in the first leg, losing 3-1 at home. Needing two goals at the Etihad Stadium as a result, the Red Devils pushed further forward than usual.

Fans started dreaming of a comeback at the half hour mark, as Nemanja Matic volleyed home a set piece in quite stellar fashion to halve the deficit.

City responded well, and really should have put the tie to bed at some point. Both David Silva and Raheem Sterling missed several easy chances, as David De Gea single handedly kept United close.

Matic would go from hero to zero with 15 minutes to go, as the midfielder was sent off after picking up a second yellow card.

The Red Devils would get one last opportunity late on, winning a free kick on the edge of the penalty area. Fred decided to take it instead of set-piece specialist Juan Mata, which proved to be a mistake as the Brazilian hit a weak effort right into the wall.

United failed to get another goal, and were eliminated from Carabao Cup contention as a result.

Wolves hosted 1st place Liverpool this past weekend, and couldn’t stop their winning run, losing 2-1 on the afternoon.

Jordan Henderson of all people would open the scoring after only eight minutes, heading home from an excellent corner whipped in by Trent Alexander-Arnold.

Wolves would equalize minutes into the start of the second half, however. Adama Traore flew forward down the wing on the counter before hitting a cross into the area. He picked out Raul Jimenez with the ball, who made no mistake with the finish, heading past Alisson from close range.

It was a tense affair late on, but Liverpool would grab a winning goal courtesy of Roberto Firmino, who cut inside before curling a shot into the far corner.

Diogo Jota should’ve snatched a draw in the final few minutes, but he missed an easy tap in from only a few yards out, which meant Wolves came away from the contest empty handed.

Last time out

It’s only been two weeks since these two sides last faced off, and Saturday will also be their fourth meeting this season already.

Their most recent matchup came in a FA Cup 3rd round replay, where United managed to squeak out a 1-0 win at Old Trafford to advance in the tournament.

It was a tense first half, with both teams creating chances of their own. Wolves thought they had taken the lead when Pedro Neto found the back of the net, but a VAR review spotted a handball in the buildup, so the goal was taken off the board. 

The deadlock would be broken by the Red Devils in the 67th minute, and this time, the goal would stand. Juan Mata was played through by Anthony Martial, and the diminutive Spaniard finished off the move in some style, chipping the onrushing keeper to make it 1-0 on the night.

Wolves came close to finding an equalizer late on, but just couldn’t beat Sergio Romero, who kept a clean sheet to book United’s spot in the next round.

Team news

United might not be missing as many players through injury as before, but the ones they are without are all major members of the team.

The trio of Marcus Rashford, Paul Pogba, and Scott McTominay are still out for the foreseeable future, with the Scotsman the most likely to be back first.

The Red Devils might see a long awaited return, however, as Eric Bailly has been back on the bench in recent games, and could finally feature once again.

Wolves have had a bit more luck on the injury front, and will only be without wingback Ruben Vinagre, who is dealing with a hamstring issue.

Predicted lineups

Manchester United: De Gea, Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Williams, Matic, Fred, James, Mata, Andreas, Greenwood

Wolves: Patricio, Dendoncker, Coady, Saiss, Doherty, Neves, Moutinho, Jonny, Traore, Jimenez, Jota

What to watch for

Will Bruno Fernandes feature?

The Red Devils finally got their man on Tuesday, as the club were able to announce the signing of Sporting Lisbon midfielder Bruno Fernandes.

The Portuguese international is an incredibly dangerous attacking option, as he has scored an impressive amount of goals considering he plays as a central attacking midfielder. United have been lacking a proper number 10 this season, and fans will hope Fernandes is the solution to their problems going forward.

Now, all eyes will be on Old Trafford on Saturday to see if he makes his long awaited debut. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer stated that Fernandes is fit and ready to play, but the club still need to finalize the details of his transfer.

He definitely won’t start, but there’s reason to believe he’ll be able to make a cameo off the bench at the very least. United might need him late on, and there would be no better way for Fernades to make his debut than leading his new team to a massive victory.

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