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Preview: Manchester United vs. Wolverhampton Wanderers - prediction, team news, lineups
03/01/2022 10:11:01

Manchester United will aim to make it back-to-back wins in the Premier League when they welcome Wolverhampton Wanderers to Old Trafford on Monday evening.


The Red Devils saw off Burnley 3-1 on Thursday evening, whereas Wolves' proposed encounter with Arsenal was postponed amid an outbreak of COVID-19.


We say: Manchester United 1-1 Wolverhampton Wanderers


There are no two ways about it - Man United cannot afford a hint of profligacy if they are to stand a chance of success against this well-rested and disciplined Wolves outfit, whatever shape the visitors may be in.


It was difficult to back a Man United win with any real conviction here, and if Lage does have most of his big-hitters available, we can envisage the European hopefuls frustrating the Red Devils and coming away with a point.


Match preview


Man United's failure to properly dominate games under Ralf Rangnick certainly bit them during their encounter with Newcastle United at St James' Park, but they had no trouble killing off the opposition when Burnley paid a visit to Old Trafford in midweek.


Scott McTominay, Cristiano Ronaldo and a Ben Mee own goal propelled United into a comfortable lead by the 35-minute mark, and even though the impressive Aaron Lennon pulled one back before the break, the Red Devils stood firm in the second 45.


That 3-1 success on home soil stretched Man United's unbeaten run to eight matches across all tournaments - a hot streak which leaves them seventh in the Premier League table before Sunday's games take place - four points behind fourth-placed Arsenal with two games in hand.


Home has certainly been where the heart is for United and former manager Sir Alex Ferguson - who enjoyed the tributes to his 80th birthday at Old Trafford on Thursday night - as the Red Devils now set out to make it four home wins on the bounce in the Premier League.


Much of 2021 was forgettable to those in red, but a New Year will bring new opportunities and likely a new permanent face in the dugout come the summer, which is a move that continues to pay dividends for their upcoming opponents.


Arsenal were due to pit their wits against Wolves less than 48 hours after their Boxing Day fixture with Norwich City, but a coronavirus cluster in Bruno Lage's camp meant that the encounter at the Emirates in midweek had to be postponed.


With Monday's contest at Old Trafford seemingly set to go ahead as scheduled, Lage must continue to search for the optimal goalscoring formula for this shot-shy Wolves outfit, but certainly not at the expense of their remarkable defensive discipline.


Wolves' most recent encounter saw them hold Chelsea to a goalless stalemate on December 19 - their fifth clean sheet from seven Premier League matches - and even against Liverpool and Manchester City they were only beaten by the one goal on both occasions.


However, with only one win to boast from their last six in the Premier League, Wolves' European charge has lost a good chunk of momentum in recent weeks, as the West Midlands outfit occupy eighth spot in the rankings - six points below their upcoming opponents.


The visitors have also scored just one goal in their last four away matches in the Premier League and do not exactly have fond memories of Old Trafford, losing 1-0 there last term courtesy of a 93rd-minute effort from Marcus Rashford.


Team News


Man United playmaker Bruno Fernandes is back from a yellow card suspension served in midweek, so Jadon Sancho's spot in the XI could be in jeopardy after Mason Greenwood impressed in midweek.


Eric Bailly played down any fears of an injury following the win over Burnley but is scheduled to jet off for the Africa Cup of Nations anyway, so Raphael Varane or Victor Lindelof could rejoin the defence if he is COVID-negative.


Paul Pogba and wantaway striker Anthony Martial also remain on the sidelines for Rangnick, who will likely see no other real reason to alter a winning formula here.


As for Wolves, Pedro Neto and Jonny are making progress in their recoveries from long-term injuries but remain in the treatment room alongside Willy Boly, Hwang Hee-chan and Yerson Mosquera.


Rayan Ait-Nouri is also expected to remain out as he battles his way back from a groin issue, and it remains to be seen what sort of shape Lage's first XI will be in following their COVID-19 cluster.


Should the visiting manager opt to utilise the same formula which stopped Chelsea in their tracks, Joao Moutinho, Ruben Neves and Leander Dendoncker could all start in the middle, but Adama Traore will smell blood versus Luke Shaw and will be pushing for his place.


Manchester United possible starting lineup:

De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Varane, Maguire, Shaw; Greenwood, McTominay, Matic, Fernandes; Ronaldo, Cavani


Wolverhampton Wanderers possible starting lineup:

Sa; Kilman, Coady, Saiss; Hoever, Neves, Moutinho, Marcal; Traore, Jimenez, Podence

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