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Manchester United vs Wolves: Season Opener Preview

Monday marks the beginning of Erik Ten Hag’s sophomore season at Manchester United and it is a highly anticipated season given a successful rebuild during the summer transfer window. Whilst United’s key rivals have picked up wins in the form of Arsenal and Manchester City and Newcastle United, it is vital that they start the season with a convincing win.

Transfer Signings make their Old Trafford Bow

Both Mason Mount and Andre Onana are in contention to make their league debuts tonight. They both represent significant upgrades in areas where United were weak last season. Andre Onana established himself as one of the best keepers in the world last season and he is an absolute master at ball progression from the back. He also has an arrogance and an innate sense of belief that is synonymous with the greats of the club. Onana is able to slice through any team’s press through his passing range and bravery. This will help United to relieve pressure at the back and sustain pressure in attack by allowing the team to push higher up the field.

Mason Mount’s tenacity and work rate will help to improve United’s press significantly and his quality on the ball will ensure that the team doesn’t lose any of the qualities that were given by Eriksen last season. Throughout his time at Chelsea, he has shown to be a great goalscorer and chance creator and this will be a massive boost to United. With Rashford carrying much of the burden for goals last season, Mount’s welcomed arrival will help to ensure that the team have multiple sources of goals.

Team Selection

Ahead of the Wolves game, it is likely that the majority of the team will pick itself. However, there can be debates over the RB and LW spot. Prior to his error against Lens in last week’s pre-season friendly, it appeared that Diogo Dalot had played himself back into the team following a strong showing against Borussia Dortmund. Nevertheless, given Dalot’s stronger all round game and value in possession, it is likely that he will retain his starting spot in the team. However, Aaron Wan Bissaka is breathing down his neck and given the rumours that he is negotiating to extend his stay at the club, it is a sign of faith from Ten Hag in his abilities. This will definitely be a battle to watch closely throughout the season. With Rasmus Hojlund still recovering from his back injury, United fans will have to wait a bit longer for his debut.

This leaves a decision between Jadon Sancho and Alejandro Garnacho for the final forward spot. Sancho has shone for the majority of preseason in a centre forward role. He looked sharper physically and showed glimpses of the form he showed at Dortmund that made him one of the best young talents in the world. Alejandro Garnacho has already established as one of the best young left wingers in the world and he was a constant livewire in the games against Real Madrid and Dortmund. He was constantly taking on his full back and was either generating a shot or a cross into the box. His all round game has appeared to have gone up a level and this was exemplified by his wonderful assist against Lens for Antony’s goal. On the other hand, with the added pressure to win against Wolves, and Garnacho still showing a rawness to his game that comes with his age, it is likely that Sancho will start as the Centre Forward but it is expected that he will constantly interchange positions with Rashford in game.

Predicted XI:

GK: Andre Onana

RB: Diogo Dalot

CB: Raphael Varane

CB: Lisandro Martinez

LB: Luke Shaw

CDM: Casemiro

CM: Mason Mount

CM: Bruno Fernandes

LW: Marcus Rashford

RW: Antony

CF: Jadon Sancho

Erik Ten Hag Press Conference

Erik Ten Hag was quite buoyant about his squad and said that he and his staff are “happy with the squad they have now” as United prepare to kick off their season. He also provided an injury update on Rasmus Hojlund, saying that it will take “a few weeks” but he is making good progress and that he is “confident” and “positive” about the situation. With Harry Kane recently sealing his move to Bayern Munich, the gaffer was asked about the progress of United’s discussions with Spurs regarding the striker but naturally he was quick to shut down the question by saying “I don’t think I have to go into that discussion or to give an opinion about that.” When asked about whether he was glad to not face him anymore, he responded very bullishly by saying that “Yeah but what my players like is we want to face the best.” With the impending takeover looming over the club for the past year and the upcoming protests before the game, Ten Hag was confident that the fans will support the team and was proud of the connection built with the fans and the team last season and throughout pre-season.

1 year on, United are in a better place and Ten Hag is a year wiser after having an excellent debut season and strong foundations have been built for the team to kick on even further. With Wolves parting ways with Julien Lopetegui and being a relegation candidate amongst fans and pundits alike, this game should represent a routine win for Man United to get their season off to a flying start!

Score Prediction: 3-0

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