Thu. Jan 21st, 2021

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A Man United teenage debutant and more to look out for vs Wolves

4 min read

Cavani recalled?

Edinson Cavani has as many goals as Anthony Martial despite starting nine fewer games for Manchester United this season and a second Premier League start against Wolves seems likely.

Martial underwhelmed again in the league at Leicester, where he never warmed up, and Cavani‘s introduction in the 75th minute was belated. Within four minutes, he had played in Bruno Fernandes to score.

There were giveaways as to the side on Boxing Day three days earlier at Everton, where Martial, Fernandes, David de Gea, Victor Lindelof, Luke Shaw, Scott McTominay, Fred, Daniel James and Marcus Rashford were not in the XI. Harry Maguire and Eric Bailly are proof Solskjaer is prepared to make exceptions but retaining Martial for Wolves seems inadvisable.

Where else to rotate?

Lindelof has been nursing a back problem for upwards of a year and is unlikely to be missed at full-back or centre-back, despite the flattering stats when he misses league games. United have lost three of the four Lindelof has sat out since the start of last season.

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Manchester United were frustrated after a late equaliser denied them a win at Leicester in the early kick-off on Boxing Day.

United twice took the lead with goals from Marcus Rashford and Bruno Fernandes, but a late Jamie Vardy strike meant the match ended 2-2, meaning the Reds missed an opportunity to leapfrog the Foxes and take second spot in the Premier League table.

United don’t have too long to wait to get back to winning ways, as they host Wolves on Tuesday night.

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Aaron Wan-Bissaka, dismal for most of the season, is back in training and Solskjaer may prefer to maintain continuity at centre-back with Maguire and Bailly, despite the option of Axel Tuanzebe.

Paul Pogba does not represent a principled pick amid his angling for a transfer but he has been more dependable this month than the tepid Donny van de Beek, and Mason Greenwood would freshen up the attack.

Best chance to beat Wolves?

February 1 marked not just Fernandes’ United debut but the third United-Wolves fixture of 2020, setting an ominous tone for an ominous year. By the game’s goalless conclusion, some had spent 0.6 per cent of the decade watching United-Wolves games.


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Tonight is the seventh meeting between the sides on Solskjaer’s watch and Wolves are unbeaten against United in the league since their promotion in 2018. They eventually procured an equaliser against Tottenham in the 86th minute on Sunday and their excursions will have left them exhausted for a game two days later.

The turnaround between games is so tight for Wolves this might be United’s best chance of beating them under Solskjaer.

Henderson to wait?

Dean Henderson has had three starts and a 45-minute outing in the last 30 days and David de Gea has not kept goal for more than two consecutive matches during that sequence.

De Gea could make it three in a row this week if he lines up against Wolves and Aston Villa but the litmus test of Solskjaer’s ruthlessness will come in next week’s Carabao Cup semi-final with Manchester City, should it go ahead.

Despite starting almost every cup tie prior to the last four stage last season, Sergio Romero was dropped for De Gea in all four of United’s semi-final ties.

Benching Henderson against City would risk ructions and United also host Watford in the FA Cup next week. Starting De Gea in both league matches this week is possibly Solskjaer’s best approach in keeping both ‘keepers content.


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Youngsters in with a shout?

Facundo Pellistri, Ethan Laird, Anthony Elanga, Will Fish and Shola Shoretire trained with the United first-team on Sunday and, between them, the average age is 17. Shoretire is still 16 and already a regular for the Under-23s.

United could be without the injured Lindelof and Rashford felt a recurrence of his shoulder injury at Leicester. Even with nine substitutes to choose from at this taxing time of the year, United’s squad is large enough to keep out their raw rookies.

Given how redundant Odion Ighalo and Jesse Lingard are ahead of the winter window, calling on Pellistri – an unused substitute in the Champions League wins over Paris Saint-Germain and Istanbul Basaksehir – would have merit.

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