Five things we learned from Wolves v United
After dominating the opening period at Molineux, Manchester United were held to a 1-1 draw by a dogged Wolves side, who had got the better of the Reds in the last two matches on their patch in league and cup.
There were some positives for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to take from the game and here we look back over five talking points from the entertaining Monday-night clash…
HALF TON FOR ANTHONY
It’s been a bright start to the season for the man who has been reinstated as United’s no.9. After kicking off the campaign with a goal on the opening day, Anthony Martial netted against Wolves to reach 50 for the Reds. And what a finish it was at Molineux which gave us a deserved half-time lead. The Frenchman had earlier had the dominant Reds’ best chance when he went close to nudging home Marcus Rashford’s dangerous inswinger, but he made no mistake on 27 minutes when Rashford set him up again and he smashed the ball into the net. He was a threat throughout the 90 minutes and it was Martial who flicked the ball brilliantly into Paul Pogba’s path to win a second-half penalty. Unfortunately Pogba was unable to join his compatriot on the scoresheet as Rui Patricio saved the spot-kick.
A POSITIVE START
Monday’s game may ultimately have finished in disappointing fashion after the Reds were pegged back after an excellent first period, but a return of four points from two tricky matches – Chelsea at home and Wolves away, with five goals scored – is a positive way to have started the 2019/20 season. Yes, we’d all have loved maximum points, but it’s important to focus on a number of encouraging aspects of what we’ve seen so far. Attentions now switch to Crystal Palace at home on Saturday where the Reds will hope to continue where we left off at Old Trafford against Chelsea.
BOSSING THE PLAY AND POSSESSION
“I don’t think we could be better prepared for a game than this,” stated Ole Gunnar Solskjaer before kick-off and the United manager would have been more than delighted with what he saw in the opening 45 minutes. The dominant Reds enjoyed a staggering 70 per cent of the possession and the odd time the ball was lost, the hustling and harrying from the whole team to quickly win it back was extremely impressive. Two or three of Ole's men could be found around a Wolves player within seconds if possession was squandered and play switched to attack as soon as possible. Wolves came back into things after the break but the overall possession stats - 65 per cent in the Reds' favour - suggests the fitness work Ole and his coaching staff have focused on during pre-season is paying off.
McTOMINAY MAKING STRIDES
One of those doing much of the hustling and harrying was the ever-industrious Scott McTominay who put in another impressive shift for the Reds. The Scottish international has become a reliable member of the squad and he has shown an extremely encouraging rapport in midfield with Paul Pogba in the last two games. His strength on the ball and ability in the air are great assets, and his discipline and intelligence in the engine room have also been so impressive. He’s a player who soaks up any advice he’s given on and off the pitch and he has one of the best former midfielders in the business to learn from every day in Michael Carrick. Indeed McTominay himself said before the trip to Wolves that “Carrick is the best example, he’s somebody who has been there and done it all and experienced everything that you can experience as a footballer. He did it as a number six and a number eight and obviously I can model my game on Michael.” Scott is certainly making positive strides forward in that sense.
VAR MAKES ANOTHER APPEARANCE
It’s pretty much all everyone has been talking about in the football world since the new season started and once again VAR reared its head at Molineux. Last season it led to Victor Lindelof’s red card in the FA Cup tie being rescinded but unfortunately it worked against United this time when Ruben Neves’ excellent strike was allowed to stand after Wolves' play in the build-up the goal was closely analysed. We’ve seen goals disallowed for similar incidents already this season – Raheem Sterling springs to mind on the opening day – but the equaliser was given and we ultimately had to settle for a draw.
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