Wolverhampton Wanderers will progress to the final four of the FA Cup for the first time in over 20 years if they can overcome Manchester United at Molineux on Saturday (7.55pm, live on BBC1).
Wolves have already eliminated Liverpool en route to their first quarter-final appearance in over a decade and now have their sights firmly set on toppling United, the second most successful team in the history of the FA Cup, with 12 triumphs to their credit.
There was a time when Wolves were one of the competition’s most successful teams. They were one of a clutch of West Midlands teams to lift the trophy on more than one occasion in the first quarter-century following its establishment in 1883, and then twice more in 1949 and 1960. This is only the fifth time they have reached the last eight in the last 30 years.
There can, though, be optimism that their good run to date can be extended through to an early April semi-final at Wembley. Not only are Nuno Espirito Santo’s side performing very well in their first season back in the top flight following a six-year absence, but they have an approach that is ideally suited to knockout football. That has long made them the most likely of the teams outside the Premier League top six to have a good go at lifting the trophy.
The performance was more outrightly defensive than desired, but Wolves nevertheless came away with a 1-1 draw away to Chelsea last weekend to maintain their hold on seventh place in the table and extend their run of good results against the top six sides. Wolves have taken points from all of them except Liverpool in the league, including wins over Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur, and as previously mentioned, they eliminated Liverpool from the FA Cup.
Wolves give the impression of being a team who are fundamentally sound in all aspects of the game, with underlying statistics to match their current position in the table. They are certainly capable of advancing on Saturday if everything goes their way.
Man Utd will not be easy opponents. They have already eliminated Arsenal and holders Chelsea to make it through to this stage. Even after their 0-2 defeat away to Arsenal last weekend, they still have an impressive record of 14 wins, two draws and two defeats since the mid-December appointment of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as interim head coach.
The club’s situation in all competitions has improved in that time. An impressive series of results in the Premier League have seen them recover a significant deficit to insert themselves into the top-four race. They also progressed to the last eight of the Champions League by overturning a first-leg home defeat to eliminate Paris Saint-Germain.
Solskjaer has undoubtedly lightened the mood around the club and given some of the more talented members of the squad the confidence to express themselves. A few neat tactical tweaks have seen things turns in his side’s favour. Man Utd’s underlying statistics, while improved since his appointment to somewhere around a league fourth-best level, suggest his side have been somewhat riding their luck through sections of their strong run of form.
In that context, it was interesting that United lost at Arsenal given that it was probably one of their best performances under Solskjaer. Fortune swayed the other way, with a goal in each half seeing them lose in the Premier League for the first time under his command. On Saturday, they will seek to avoid their first consecutive defeats.
Our Preview’s Wolves vs Man Utd Betting Tips Verdict
Even in the relatively lean post-Sir-Alex-Ferguson years, United have reached two FA Cup finals, winning in 2016 and then finishing as runners up to Chelsea last season. While Solskjaer, who won two FA Cups under Ferguson’s charge as a player, will see the competition as his most viable route to silverware, Wolves are very capable spoilers.
Wolves have already shown themselves to be very competitive against top teams this season and with home advantage, have a solid chance of upsetting the FA Cup odds and making it through to the final four with victory on Saturday.
- Bet on Wolverhampton Wanderers to win @ 9/4 with Bet365.