What went wrong against Wolves before and how can United avoid it?
Tonight Manchester United head to Molineux, scene of two defeats last season in the league and FA Cup.
Can United avoid a similar fate this time around? The biggest factor in favour of this is a fully fit squad.
Our first game against Wolves last season came at the end of a busy schedule when the team was stretched. Even the players who played were nursing problems or coming back from layoffs.
United’s team was on a high after the away win over PSG. Then a loss against Arsenal took the momentum away, ahead of the Wolves game.
The players looked tired, and many were struggling with injuries. Marcus Rashford and Jesse Lingard were among these, while David de Gea did not play in the FA Cup defeat.
Chris Smalling played in both games, scoring an own goal in the second. United lost both matches 2-1.
Also in the league game, United’s failure to take chances hurt. Romelu Lukaku wasted a close range opportunity to double Scott McTominay’s opener.
Ashley Young’s red card then put us up against it before we conceded twice, including the own goal. Everything which could go wrong, did.
United need to be clinical this time. Wolves are strong defensively and don’t give up many chances.
Give them credit
This leads onto the other angle to this, Wolves are a very good team. Star midfielder Ruben Neves would walk into our XI.
Rui Patricio in goal is Portugal’s number one. They conceded fewer goals than us last season and earned their spot in the Europa League.
On Thursday they made 10 changes to the team they played in the Premier League a week days earlier and still won 4-0. This has kept their top stars fresh for the United fixture.
Attacker Diogo Jota caused Luke Shaw real problems last season and he could be targeted tonight.
Blueprint for success
United’s opening win over Chelsea gave us plenty to smile about, and reason to be encouraged.
Our defence looks better and in attack we looked sharp. It’s a huge game for Harry Maguire to show why he is an upgrade on Chris Smalling.
Dan James and Mason Greenwood are fresh attacking options while Anthony Martial as striker looks like a new player again.
The players looked fit and healthy after a big effort in pre-season and this could make a difference tonight. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has done the hard work already.
Part of the challenge will be mental too. United’s players must be confident and block out the memories of those losses. Last week’s result helps the feeling of a fresh slate.
Wolves are good enough to beat us, but we are better equipped to go to Molineux and win than we were on either occasion last season.
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