Ole Gunnnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United will be travelling down to the Molineux Stadium on Monday to take on Nuno Espirito Santo’s Wolves, a brutal team that managed to pick up a lot important results against the top-six sides last season and are now in the Europa League play-offs.
Although it is only the second gameweek of the Premier League, both sides will be looking to pick up the early three points in the campaign to ensure they move a step forward to reach their aims and objectives. The hosts will have one eye on the match and the other on the upcoming fixture against Torino in the Europa League play-offs, whilst the visitors will have the full focus on this difficult tie.
Now, let’s focus on the Red Devils ahead of their key crucial match on Monday night…
Lack of control within midfield
In their first league game, Manchester United had a lot of tough times in controlling the game within the middle of the pitch and were not able to dominate and overcome Chelsea’s midfield trio. For sure, the 4-0 result in the end is what counts, but on another day, had the opposition had the quality in defence and attack, the final outcome would have been different to what actually happened.
Despite the departure of both Ander Herrera and Marouane Fellaini, the board and Ed Woodward have failed to bring in the required replacements, leaving Solskjaer with very limited options within the midfield department. Andreas Pereira, Fred and Scott McTominay don’t have the intelligence and quality to start on a regular basis, and Nemanja Matic just happens to be on his last legs.
Not only that, Paul Pogba is the main man to guide the side week in and out, but his lapse in concentration and tendency to take the extra touch or second on the ball does not help the team’s cause. If the team are able to take more control and manage the game from the midfield, they will go on to improve defensively, dominate possession effectively and eventually create more chances.
Contributions from the full-backs
A lot of the talk has recently been about the arrival of summer signing Aaron Wan-Bissaka and current left-back, Luke Shaw, two individuals who are young, full of energy and are expected to be the side’s main full-backs for the next five years or so. With modern football being more advanced and the duties of a full-back being increased, the pair will have to work on their attacking ability.
With the backline being improved massively throughout the summer, the sole focus will be on how consistently they will be able to play out from the back and how often they will play a key role in the final third of the pitch. On that note, both Shaw and Wan-Bissaka will have take part in a lot of attacking drills in training, as their crossing and technical ability will be required during the season.
Having a quick look at the rival teams in Liverpool and Manchester City, they both respectively have the likes of Andrew Robertston, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Benjamin Mendy and Kyle Walker, crucial individuals who can run up and down the pitch for the whole game and be the difference maker when needed. United will definitely be in need of this as their style of play can become limited and really rigid, which forces them to play the ball more directly and without a lack of direction.
Marcus Rashford’s movement and positioning
Given the ruthless departure of Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez to receive the same outcome very soon, there will be a lot of weight on United’s attackers and the midfielders to come up with the much needed goals. With a lot of pressure being on the likes of Anthony Martial, Daniel James and Paul Pogba for goals and assists, Marcus Rashford has to be the man to personally step up.
Being a local lad that has come through the youth ranks and someone that is widely regarded as a fan favourite, it would be more than ideal for the youngster to lead by example and be seen as the player that can score 25 goals a season. As he is now on free-kick and penalty duties, it shouldn’t be a huge problem for him to reach the required figures and numbers as a first-choice centre-forward.
It is no secret that Rashford isn’t one of the most clinical or ruthless strikers in the league, but if he begins to do the basics right and has the hunger to be in the right place at the right time, then there shouldn’t be no doubts at all in him delivering the goods. And if he goes on to do that and helps the team to be successful in the long run, his name will definitely be up there with the other greats that played for Manchester United Football Club.