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EPL Betting Preview: Manchester United vs. Wolves
August 14, 2023
Manchester United welcome Wolves in their Premier League curtain raiser at Old Trafford on Monday night.
Erik ten Hag's side claimed a double over Wolves last season, including a 2-0 win at Old Trafford on May 13
. All in all, Manchester United have won five of their last six matches against Wolves in the Premier League, though Wolves also earned a 1-0 victory at Old Trafford in January 2022.
Manchester United Betting Preview (-345 at BetOnline)
The Red Devils finished third in the Premier League last term and also won the League Cup as they were close to claim the FA Cup as well, but they eventually lost to rivals Manchester City in the final. However, it was a very decent debut campaign for Ten Hag, who now starts his second season in charge and the Dutchman will be looking to take the next step of an anticipated revolution.
Manchester United have returned from their US tour for the final dress rehearsal as they played two games (in consecutive days) against Ligue 1 side Lens and La Liga side Athletic Bilbao earlier this month. Erik ten Hag fielded two completely different sides and it's certain that he'll opt for the one that completed a 3-1 comeback win over the Ligue 1 runners-up.
Bruno Fernandes has been named as the new captain of Manchester United, the club confirmed this summer. The Portuguese playmaker actually wore the armband in the prolonged absence of Harry Maguire last season.
Harry Maguire has been stripped of the captaincy and United confirmed on their pre-season tour of the US that Fernandes has been officially awarded the role. Ten Hag is said to highly value the Portuguese playmaker's inspirational qualities and passion on the pitch.
To be fair, Fernandes became Manchester United’s de facto captain last season, when Maguire lost his place in the team for long periods, leading the team on 45 occasions. In fact, Fernandes made 37 starts in the Premier League compared to Maguire’s nine.
The United boss deserves credit for bringing a number of fighters and leaders to Old Trafford since taking over last summer, including Lisandro Martinez, Christian Eriksen and Casemiro. He will rely on those players to support Fernandes, as well as experienced defender Raphael Varane and attacker Marcus Rashford, who recently signed a new long-term contract with the club.
Danish forward Rasmus Hojlund will not make his debut against Wolves, having arrived from Atalanta with a back problem, meaning Marcus Rashford should lead the line. The England forward has three goals across his seven appearances against Wolves in all competitions, with two of them coming in the Premier League.
Mason Mount, on the other hand, is set to make his bow in the middle, having joined over the summer from Chelsea and the England international dislodged Christian Eriksen.
Andre Onana should also make his official debut between the sticks, but the likes of Dean Henderson, Tyrell Malacia, Anthony Martial as well as youngsters Kobbie Mainoo and Amad Diallo are all injured.
Meanwhile, Jonny Evans is once again a Manchester United player. The Northern Ireland veteran made a shock return to the club on a short-term deal, allowing him to play in pre-season games. It remains to be seen whether Evans will remain with the squad for the season, with ex-skipper Maguire looking increasingly likely to leave Old Trafford and Ten Hag clearly needs new defenders as United will make a Champions League return this season.
Wolves Betting Preview (+985 at BetOnline)
Wolverhampton Wanderers kick off their Premier League campaign with a visit to Old Trafford to face an ambitious Manchester United side. They were unbeaten in pre-season, including a victory over Portuguese giants Porto and a 1-1 draw with Scottish champions Celtic, as they traveled to Portugal and also played a few games on home soil and in Ireland.
The Wanderers rounded off their pre-season with a 3-1 victory over Ligue 1 side Rennes at Molineux earlier this month in what turned out to be Julen Lopetegui's farewell.
The West Midlands outfit avoided relegation thanks to the appointment of Spanish tactician Julen Lopetegui last November (he himself described it as the most "difficult achievement" in his managerial career to date) but hopes of a stress-free first full season in charge quickly disappeared and the former Spain, Sevilla and Real Madrid head coach left the job a couple of days before the start of the new season.
Prior to Lopetegui's appointment, Wolves were bottom of the table but his arrival during the World Cup break was a wise move that actually saved Wolves' Premier League status and they even climbed up to 13
place at the end.
With a 2-1 Boxing Day win at Everton, Julen Lopetegui became the first Wolves manager to win his first top-flight game in charge of the club since John Barnwell in 1978.
Wolves have been solid at home under Lopetegui's lead last season as they won matches against West Ham United, Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea, Brentford, Crystal Palace and Aston VIlla, remarkably keeping a clean sheet in each of them.
Yet, Wolves had the worst attacking record in the league with just 31 goals and the absence of a prolific striker, plus departures of key players don't suggest that Wolves have drastically improved their scoring ability over the summer.
Lopetegui's departure made the hot seat vacant for ex-Bournemouth head coach Gary O'Neil to take over. O'Neil was unveiled as the new Wolves manager last week and the 40-year-old Englishman will face one of the worst possible opponents on his debut as Wolves travel to face Manchester United at Old Trafford.
To make things worse, Wolves have sold the likes of Nathan Collins, Conor Coady, Ruben Neves and Raul Jimenez so far this summer (plus a few more experienced players whose contracts have expired) but have, at least, made loan deals for Matheus Cunha and Boubacar Traore into permanent signings.
Meanwhile, Maximilian Kilman was named captain ahead of the new season following the departures of Conor Coady and Ruben Neves.
Gary O'Neil confirmed Matheus Cunha missed a few days of training but was expected to be back on the pitch in time for the opening game of the campaign for Wolves.
Fabio Silva and Sasa Kalajdzic were both brought on against Rennes and will hope for a chance to impress the new head coach. The former had spent last season on loan at both Anderlecht and PSV Eindhoven, in the Belgian Pro League and the Eredivisie respectively, while Kalajdzic arrived at the Molineux last summer but the Austrian striker picked up a nasty injury on his debut and missed the whole season as a result.
Irish international Matt Doherty has also returned to the club on a free transfer. The 31-year-old Irishman tried to revive his career in La Liga side Atletico Madrid but returned to England after a brief, disappointing spell abroad.
Doherty captained the Republic of Ireland national team for the first time in a friendly against Latvia in March and will need to suddenly contribute to Wolves' chemistry, on and off the pitch.
However, summer signings Matt Doherty and Boubacar Traore may have to settle for a place on the bench, with Gary O'Neil assessing the club’s pre-season friendlies.
Doherty and Nelson Semedo are competing to start on the right with Rayan Ait-Nouri tipped to start on the left back. Elsewhere, of those who came off the bench against Rennes last weekend, Brazilian midfielder Joao Gomes and the South Korea forward Hee Chan Hwang staked a claim for starts with second half goals against Rennes.
Possible Starting Lineups of Manchester United and Wolves
Manchester United: André Onana - Diogo Dalot, Raphael Varane, Lisandro Martínez, Luke Shaw - Casemiro, Bruno Fernandes - Antony, Mason Mount, Alejandro Garnacho - Marcus Rashford. (4-2-3-1)
Wolves: José Sá - Nelson Semedo, Max Kilman, Craig Dawson, Rayan Aït-Nouri - Matheus Nunes, Mario Lemina, João Gomes - Pablo Sarabia, Matheus Cunha, Daniel Podence. (4-3-3)
Spooky Express Betting Prediction
Gary O'Neil's side will hope to reap the benefits of an early season unpredictability as his first Wolves eleven will keep Manchester United guessing. Still, the Red Devils possess the necessary quality and aggression to dismantle their opponents at Old Trafford so we expect a dominant start to the new season for United.
Spooky Express Free Play: Half-time / Full-time - Manchester United / Manchester United -110 at BetOnline for 6/10 Units
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