Friday 21 September 2018

Match preview: United v Wolves

Two of the Premier League's three Portuguese bosses go head-to-head at Old Trafford as compatriots and friends Jose Mourinho and Nuno Espirito Santo pits their wits against each other for the first time. Young Boys were not a problem for Mourinho, but an old boy certainly could be.
Unusually for an newly promoted team, Wolves will not be cowed by the occasion, they will not come merely to sit back and frustrate United and boast an attack-minded side packed with intelligent, technically gifted players. Santo will send out a pumped up and hungry Wolverhampton side with the bit between their teeth.
The visitor arrive at Old Trafford unbeaten in three and with back-to-back wins, so this is a clash of two in-form sides with Wolves draw against Manchester City serving notice of the quality they possess.
The sides are separated by only a point and a place in the table as Mourinho's United go into the game on the back of three successive away wins at Burnley, Watford and Young Boys.

The Reds are without suspended duo Marcus Rashford and Nemanja Matic so Fred will likely start alongside Paul Pogba with Marouane Fellaini probably coming in to fill the void in the Serbian's absence. Andreas Pereira will be in contention, but Alexis Sanchez's place in the side is perhaps more doubtful than ever. Diogo Dalot impressed on his debut in midweek but will miss out here with Antonio Valencia to return at right-back. Dalot is set to start against Derby in Tuesday's Carabao Cup tie but Marcos Rojo and Ander Herrera remain sidelined.

Wolves could name the same starting XI for a sixth consecutive league game.
Ivan Cavaleiro is expected to be their only absentee as he continues his recovery from a back injury but Santo has an otherwise fully fit squad to pick from. Watch out for playmaker Ruben Neves, a cracking bundle to energy, poise, pace and trickery and a player who was the talismanic, string pulling, creator in chief last term as the men from Molineaux ran away with the second tier title.

 Mourinho gave his thoughts ahead of the tie, and said: "I think we are improving as a team, I think the team is more compact, more solid, the spirit, the co-operation is very good, I don't want to say that our improvment has the name of one player, of course we have many players doing well but they are part of a team that has played very well in these matches.
"Dalot will play again on Tuesday, I want him to play totally fresh, it is difficult coming to Manchester United as a kid, from another country and after important surgery, so it is a process of adaption and not playing him in this game is part of that adaption.
"Wolves are a very good team, strong, dominant, consistent last year in the Championship, which even if you have the best side it is not an easy situation. They have had a great transition to the Premier League - getting the points and the performances so I say myself that they will have a very stable season."
Santo's side have been a breath of fresh air so far but let's hope that United's experience and know how will be enough to tame the Wolves nasty bite.

Form guide: United W L L W W W Wolverhampton D L D W W W
Match odds: United 3/5 Draw 7/2 Wolverhampton 19/4
Referee: Kevin Friend (Leicestershire)

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