Wolves vs Man Utd: Pre-Match Analysis
WOLVERHAMPTON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 04: Adama Traore of Wolverhampton Wanderers breaks away from Brandon Williams and Nemanja Matic of Manchester United during the FA Cup Third Round match between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Manchester United at Molineux on January 04, 2020 in Wolverhampton, England. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

In the last nine meetings between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Manchester United, neither team has scored more than twice. Yet, with Bruno Lage making Wolves more positive going forward this season, on top of the attacking talent available for the Red Devils, this could easily be a rugby score.

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VAVEL UK provides a pre-match analysis ahead of the Premier League game, with both teams eager to walk away with all three points.

  • A new attacking Wolves and United struggling away from home?

Historically, it is United who have dominated this fixture, winning 48% of the games dating back to 1892, when they played under the name Newton Heath. Wolves have managed to win 34% of the duels, with the remaining 18% ending in draws.

Since Wolves gained promotion in 2018, they have played United at the Molineux five times, with two of those coming in the FA Cup. The Wanderers have managed to win two of those games, with two finishing as draws and United claiming victory in their very last game.

This suggests that the Red Devils do not find playing at Molineux as straight forward as at Old Trafford. This was all though of course under the stewardship of Nuno Espirito Santo for Wolves, who now sits the dugout at Tottenham Hotspur. In his place, Lage has demanded much more attacking football from the side.

Compared to last season, the shots at goal are much higher, the expected goals score is higher and the amount of crosses into the box is higher. Oddly enough, Wolves have not yet scored a goal in the league! However, the side put four goals past Nottingham Forest in the League Cup mid-week, so maybe Lage will finally get his first league goal come Sunday.

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United fans are full of optimism for their side's chances of silverware this season, with the pressure to deliver falling on manager Ole Gunnar Solskjær. He duly delivered in the first game of the season, with his side smashing five past Leeds United at home.

With the fanfare beginning to sound, United then struggled away at Southampton, only managing a 1-1 draw. This may have been a freak result for Solskjær's side, but it may suggest that the Red Devils do not like playing away from the Theatre of Dreams, which should give Wolves all the motivation they need to ensure that United do not get a warm welcome come Sunday.

  • Plenty of options for Solskjær

United will be determined to bounce back from their draw last week with another emphatic display to enthuse all about their title credentials. On paper, their side is full of quality. 

Sunday could see Raphaël Varane make his first start, with the experienced centre-back coming with plenty of plaudits and expectations regarding the impact he could make for United. Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw both represented England in Euro 2020 and will be ready to keep Wolves from getting their first league goal.

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Shaw has been in fine form over the last year and will be asking questions of Wolves' defence, as he will look to get in behind throughout the match. It is though going forwards that United look dangerous and Wolves will need to be on their game to prevent the Red Devils running riot.

One player that has become instantly synonymous with the club after joining is Bruno Fernandes. The 26-year-old was in fine form for the Leeds game and will be eager to try and break through the Wolves back line. He could easily win this game by himself for United if allowed to play.

Another player who on his day can be unplayable is Paul Pogba. When the Frenchman turns up, he is a phenomenal player and can really dominate the middle of the park and provide countless opportunities for assists and goals. He is hot and cold though, so Wolves will be hoping that Pogba has a quiet game come Sunday.

The fixture could even see another new signing in Jadon Sancho be given the task of causing even more mayhem for the Wolves defence. The 21-year-old will be eager to show his new manager what he can do and will be very difficult to manage if he hits the ground running.

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  • Out with the Nuno, in with the Bruno

Wolves are still a relatively unknown force in the Premier League this season. The side under Nuno were very compact and cautious, which proved to be their downfall last season, as their attacking intent was non-existent at times.

Things though seem different under Lage, who will be excited at the prospect of testing himself out against a strong United side. Early signs points towards the team being a lot more positive going forwards, but Wolves just struggle with that final ball.

Every football fan will be glad to see Raúl Jiménez back kicking a football around, with the Mexican determined to show that he is still the danger man that can grab Wolves' goals. He has been unsurprisingly off the pace a little, but make not mistake, he is still a fantastic player who will cause any team problems.

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Wolves' strength comes from their wing-backs getting forwards, so expect to see Nélson Semedo and either Marçal or Rayan Aït-Nouri bombing down those flanks to give Wolves the width and penetration towards the byline that they normally rely on.

Another key area for Lage's side comes from the wingers. New loan singing Francisco Trincão has looked impressive so far and will only get better as he adjusts to life in the Premier League. The man on the other wing for Wolves is currently surrounded by a lot of transfer rumours.

Adama Traoré is a man in demand, as Nuno wants to bring the Spaniard over to Spurs. Wolves appear to be standing their ground at the moment, so he should still feature on Sunday. Anything can happen though!

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If Traoré does play, then Wolves always have a chance. The 25-year-old is unstoppable at times, easily dribbling past defenders and creating goal scoring opportunities, both for himself and his teammates. The problem is that he struggles with that final element. If he can sort out his end product, he could easily be one of the most dangerous players in the league.

In the middle of the park sits another man who has been in rumour mill this summer and that man is Rúben Neves. The Portuguese is thought to be on United's radar and with good reason. The 24-year-old is essential to how Wolves play and keeps the team ticking whilst provided protection for his defence. He can also produce some fantastic defence splitting passes, which is something that United will need to be prepared for. 

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  • Verdict

The history books would predict a low scoring game. Recent form at the Molineux would give Wolves the edge slightly, but this is not the same Wolves from the last few meetings. The battle in midfield will be crucial to how the game pans out, with both sides capable of creating chances if given the space to play.

With the amount of attacking options for United, Wolves may be more pragmatic in their approach and could easily sit back and allow the Red Devils the ball in their third. Though, United have the players and the quality to break teams down, so it will be interesting to see what Lage does, because it would have been obvious what Nuno would have done.

If Wolves open up and fight fire with fire with United, anything could happen. United though do struggle at the Molineux and with pressure on them to perform, this could be a chance for Wolves to cause an upset. Put it this way, Wolves fans will be much more optimistic of their sides' chances against United under Lage, than they did last time out in Nuno's final game.

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