Ruben Neves’ spectacular equalizer and Paul Pogba’s penalty miss in the second half meant United failed to break their Molineux hoodoo at the third time of asking. Anthony Martial gave United the lead in the first half when he ruthlessly finished past Rui Patricio to score his 50th goal for the club. That lead was cancelled by Neves in the second half after which both teams couldn’t manage to break the deadlock before the final whistle.
United entered the game on the back of a resounding win against Chelsea and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer made a solitary change to the team that faced the Blues by bringing in Daniel James in place of Andreas Pereira. Meanwhile, their opponents, Wolverhampton Wanderers fielded an unchanged side from their opening day draw against Leicester City.
Without further ado, let us delve into the talking points and tactical analysis from this game.
1. Compact Wolves prove hard to break down
Wolves lined up in their usual 3-5-2 formation with Raul Jimenez spearheading the attack and Diogo Jota playing as the support striker. Ruben Neves, Joao Moutinho, and Leander Dendoncker formed the midfield trio. Willy Boly, Conor Coady and Ryan Bennet played as the back three with Matt Doherty and Jonny in the wing-back spots. Rui Patricio started in goal.
The home team defended in a low block with minimal space to work within the midfield as their tenacious midfielders hurried the United players into surrendering possession. Then, theu would break away swiftly on the counter-attack using the pace of Jota and the strength and hold-up play of Jimenez.
Wolves disrupted United’s attack with sharp, quick pressing whenever they entered their half and retreated back to their shape when the ball was back in the opposite half. They were quite disciplined, stubborn and well-drilled in their methods, standing tall like an inexorable force threatening to stay shut for the entirety of the evening.
Their plan, however, was disrupted in the 27th min, when Anthony Martial fired home the opener after a decoy Shaw run pulled Coady away to open up space for the Frenchman. The No.9 made no mistake and gave United a vital lead after half an hour of football under the floodlights at Molineux.