Manchester United 0-0 Wolves: 3 key observations from the game | Premier League 2019-20
Manchester United played out a goalless draw with Wolverhampton Wanderers in a Premier League match at Old Trafford last night. The Red Devils now have 35 points from 25 matches, and are sixth in the league table. On the other hand, Wolves also have 35 points but are seventh, owing to United having a better goal difference.
Manchester United have now failed to score in their last three league outings and have managed a solitary point from these fixtures. They dominated Saturday's match with more than 60% ball possession, but were not able to break the shackles and score past a solid Wolves defence.
New signing Bruno Fernandes made his Manchester United debut in the game and impressed in patches for the Premier League giants. He has a powerful shot on him, and tested the Wolves goalkeeper with long rangers on a few occasions. However, the Portuguese was tightly marked and was frequently surrounded by two opposition players in the final third.
We would now take a look at three observations from last night’s match:
#1 Manchester United lacked width in attack initially
Manchester United started with a 4-2-3-1 formation, with Juan Mata and Daniel James starting in the right and left wings respectively. However, Mata drifted into the central areas, and therefore, United were narrow upfront initially. Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Manchester United's right-back, did not make too many overlapping runs in the opening 15-20 minutes, and hence, United continued to lack width.
The situation changed for the better gradually, as Wan-Bissaka started making overlapping runs. He also played some useful crosses into the box. Diogo Dalot met one such cross in the second half, but could not beat the Wolves goalkeeper.
On the other hand, James had a very ordinary first half in the left wing, and was moved to the right flank after half-time. However, he still could not make much of an impact, and was replaced by Dalot late on. United were clearly missing Marcus Rashford’s darting runs through the left flank on Saturday.
#2 Fred made his presence felt as Wolves counter-attacked
Wolves sat back and absorbed pressure for the majority of the match, and made some counter-attacking moves to trouble the United defence. Their right-winger Adama Traore had a vey good first half, and bothered Manchester United's backline through the inside-right channel. Luke Shaw had some problems in dealing with him initially.
However, Fred, who started as a holding midfielder, dropped down frequently in order to stop Traore’s runs. He also combined very effectively with Harry Maguire, United’s left centre-back to thwart Traore’s moves. Fred made some vital interceptions and challenges, and also fell back to quell Wolves’ counter-attacking moves.
Because of Nemanja Matic's absence, Andreas Perreira started as Fred’s partner in the midfield, and played box-to-box at times in the first half. However, debutant Bruno Fernandes, who started as a No.10, swapped position with Perreira, and dropped down to play as a holding midfielder during the latter part of the first half. Fernandes tried to play as a deep-lying playmaker at times, and played some vital passes too.
#3 United made some changes in formation in the second half but still couldn't score
After a barren first half, Manchester United made some changes in their formation in an attempt to break Wolves' defence. Perreira moved to the left flank and James started playing as the right-winger. Mata switched to the central attacking midfielder’s role, as United tried to increase pressure on Wolves’ backline.
However, Perreira failed to make much of an impact on the left wing, as he was unable to deliver crosses with his weaker left foot. He also tried in vain to cut in from the left flank at times, and was ultimately replaced by Mason Greenwood in the second half. Dalot replaced James, and tried to add impetus to United’s attacks through the right wing. He also had an opportunity to score, but could not head the ball past Rui Patricio.
In the closing stages of the match, Jesse Lingard was introduced in place of Mata, but he also failed to make much of a difference. Martial shifted to the left flank at times in order to create space for his teammates, but that strategy also proved to be ineffective eventually, as the match ended goalless.
Published 02 Feb 2020, 14:08 IST