Manchester United: United on the up but Wolves a tricky test

02 January 2022 23:33:15 GMTPlus10
Ralf Rangnick will be eyeing further improvement against Wolves

Manchester United welcome Wolves to Old Trafford for the last of the Premier League's New Year round of fixtures on Monday, with the Red Devils keen to maintain their upward momentum under Ralf Rangnick.

It's not all been plain sailing for the highly-rated German coach since he was named interim boss at the end of November following Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's sacking with some solid results masking a few disappointing performances. 

The 63-year-old started with a well-deserved win over Crystal Palace but a narrow success over Norwich and the festive 1-1 draw at Newcastle were certainly not up to the same standard.

Unbeaten under Ralf

However, the bigger picture is that United has not lost since the former RB Leipzig manager came in. Of course, there remain plenty of teething problems as players get to grips with his new methods but there were signs in the most recent game, a 3-1 win over Burnley, that things are beginning to click.

A high-pressing, high-energy approach is Rangnick's preferred game-plan and, when it works, it should give the likes of Jadon Sancho, Cristiano Ronaldo and Mason Greenwood, 3.10 in the any time market, the time and space to shine in the final third.

Indeed, Rangnick, who was realistic in his assessment of the previous barely-deserved St James' Park draw, said the win over the Clarets saw the players he inherited display their best attacking football of his brief tenure.

There is still plenty to do but, all things considered, it looks like the Red Devils are at least moving in the right direction once again, with them 1.65 for another victory.

Related Manchester United News

Manchester United: Rangnick content with OT squad strength

Manchester United: Ralf to the rescue

Manchester United: Solskjaer axe leaves Carrick in charge

Manchester United: Rashford confident attitudes are solid

Fernandes back, Pogba still out

They will welcome back the influential Bruno Fernandes against Wolves following suspension and Victor Lindelof should also be available. Paul Pogba remains out with a thigh issue - something which some supporters may view as a positive - as the France star continues to divide opinion.

The clearly-talented midfielder has failed to win over a large section of the United fanbase, who are well aware of his potential to be world class but have also grown increasingly frustrated at his seeming desire to leave Old Trafford again at the earliest possible opportunity.

Wolves have been difficult to predict under Bruno Lage this term but there's no getting away from the fact it's been a decent season for the Black Country outfit and they are 5.75 to win on Monday.

A quick check of the table shows them to be only a place and six points behind Monday's opponents and to be sitting eighth, knocking on the door of the European places, must surely be an acceptable position for a Wolves team that remember finished down in a below-par 13th in the 2020/21 campaign.

Few goals at either end

Lage has made them difficult to break down - they have only conceded 14 goals - which is the same as Chelsea and a figure bettered only by Man City, but the problem is they've only scored a paltry 13 themselves. Only Norwich have hit fewer.

It means some fans have openly questioned the slow, pragmatic and frankly dull tactical approach, designed at stifling the life out of games, which Lage has adopted.

A quirky stat seen before this Old Trafford clash revealed none of Wolves' last seven games have produced more than one goal. It probably best sums up their current situation as they have either been edged out 1-0, drawn 0-0 or pinched games themselves by just a single goal, while always being in contention. That run has included games against all of the top three so, in many ways, it's a run to be proud of rather than sniffed at.

United can edge it

It's hard to envisage much of a different scenario playing out on Monday, with Lage again likely to set his team up to frustrate. The difference in playing United compared to some is that their attacking threat, if it clicks into top gear, is very hard to contain.

Expect a tight tussle with the home side winning by - shock-horror - a 1-0 scoreline appealing in the betting market at 6.50.

Discover more from the world's favourite online betting brand

More football betting news

Latest betting and odds

Watch football live streaming

Build a bet with bet builder

Latest football results

Sign up - bet365 Open Account Offer

bet365 uses cookies
We use cookies to deliver a better and more personalised service. For more information, see our Cookies Policy.
Manage Cookies
Accept
Performance Cookies
Performance cookies improve user experience by learning anonymously about preferences. They are used internally to provide aggregated statistics on visitors to our websites.
Accept
Essential Cookies
Some cookies are necessary for the website to operate and can't be disabled. These include:
Session Management
Manage session information and enable users to navigate through the website
Functionality
Store information which enables us to remember user preference e.g. preferred language, sort types, media settings, They are also used to improve users' experience e.g. stopping users from being shown the same message twice.
Fraud Prevention
Store information which helps us stop fraudulent use of the website
Tracking
Store information about how users have landed on the website. We need to record this so that we can appropriately pay our Affiliates.