Manchester United’s chances of progressing in the FA Cup against Wolves will be enhanced if they can find a way to combat the threat the red hot Adama Traore brings.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will want a response from his side after a 2-0 defeat at Arsenal made it a disappointing start to 2020.
Since Wolves returned to the Premier League last season, United haven’t beaten the West Midlands side in four outings (2 draws, 2 losses).
The Red Devils were beaten at Molineux at the quarter-final stage last season and drew 1-1 there earlier in the season.
In recent matches against Nuno Espírito Santo’s side, their key men have been the likes of Joao Moutinho, Ruben Neves, Diogo Jota and Raul Jimenez.
However, United come into the 3rd round tie facing a different threat in Adama Traore, who has been tormenting defences all season.
What does Traore bring?
The 23-year-old has never started a game against United for Wolves but that trend seems likely to be broken come Saturday.
Across 30 matches in all competitions this season, Traore has scored 5 goals and registered 7 assists.
The former Barcelona La Masia academy graduate played a pivotal part in Wolves’ two victories over Manchester City this season. Traore scored both goals in the win at the Etihad and then scored one and set up another in the home clash.
The Spanish youngster is one of the quickest players in world football and when he gets in his stride with his powerful physical frame, he is extremely difficult to stop. He’s also getting better as the season goes on.
Traore is currently top of the dribbling charts across the top 5 leagues in Europe, the winger is currently averaging 5.6 dribbles per game and is narrowly ahead of a certain Lionel Messi (5.5) according to WhoScored.
There were concerns early in his career that Traore didn’t possess the awareness and ability to make the right decision in dangerous areas, which would complement his phenomenal physical attributes and make him a more rounded player.
However, this season the penny finally seems to have dropped and Traore is showing that there is more to his game then brute strength and searing pace.
Solskjaer should avoid picking Shaw
United’s left-back endured a difficult night at the Emirates and struggled to contain Arsenal’s club record signing Nicolas Pepe.
Shaw doesn’t look comfortable defending against wingers that are direct, pacey and tricky.
He either backs off and gives the wide men too much room and time to manoeuvre or he recklessly dives in and gets booked, which means he has to watch his step for the remainder of the match.
In the second game of the season Traore was introduced at half-time when we were leading 1-0.
Traore’s pace unsettled United and Shaw in particular, our left-back looked scared and as a result it made him even more reluctant to join in with our attacking play due to the threat Traore brought on the counter-attack.
After an impressive performance against Burnley, Brandon Williams will be hoping for a recall ahead of the FA Cup clash.
United’s academy graduate showed earlier in the season in the Carabao Cup against Callum Hudson-Odoi, he isn’t afraid to get in the faces of talented wingers and be aggressive in the tackle.
The challenge Traore poses is one that Williams would relish and it would be a good indicator to see where the 19-year-old is currently at.
Instead of sitting back and showing too much respect to Traore, Williams would test the winger’s concentration and test his willingness to track back with a number of marauding overlapping runs.
If Williams was to impress and nullify the threated posed by Traore, the case for him to become the club’s first choice left-back across all competitions would be enhanced.
Solskjaer got some key team selection decisions wrong against Arsenal, picking Luke Shaw for the trip to Wolves could be a recipe for disaster.
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