Wolverhampton Wanderers play on home soil in the Premier League for the first time since before the World Cup on Saturday lunchtime (12.30pm), and they’ll face Manchester United, who returned with a bang last time out. Can the hosts kick on after their comeback win against the Toffees? Or will the visitors make it two wins from two since returning to action?
It’s been a good week for Wolves. They started off on the right foot after the World Cup by beating Gillingham 2-0 at home in the League Cup, before emerging victorious at Goodison Park on Boxing Day, despite finding themselves a goal down early on.
Overall, the form of Julen Lopetegui’s men isn’t great, but they have at least won two competitive games on the bounce for the first time this season plus they’ve lost just one of their last three in the Premier League. Prior to the World Cup, they signed off with a 1-0 home win against Leeds, so they’ll be looking to build on that.
As far as the Red Devils are concerned, things have gone well since domestic football returned. They got underway with a relatively straightforward, if not exciting, 1-0 win against Burnley in the EFL Cup. That win gave them a platform from which to build, and build they did when beating Nottingham Forest 3-0 last time out. On that occasion, they flexed their attacking muscles, but have they got enough in the tank to do the same against a Wolves team that can be difficult to face at Molineux.
Goals in short supply
Saturday’s hosts are down in the drop zone for a couple of reasons, but their biggest issue this term has been a lack of goals. They’ve scored just ten times in 16 Premier League games, which just isn’t good enough. Fortunately, they have improved in that sense recently, scoring five in their last four, but more improvement is absolutely required if they wish to move away from danger.
Even at home, the goals have been in short supply. They’ve scored in just four out of eight at Molineux, notching more than once on just one occasion in front of a home crowd. That’s a worrying state. They are by no means easy to beat, losing by more than a single goal just once against a team that is currently outside of the top two, but unless they do more offensively, they’re going to struggle to pick up positive results.
Mixed bag on the road
Away from home, Manchester United haven’t exactly flourished this term, at least not in terms of consistency. Erik ten Haag’s men have won four out of eight, which isn’t bad, but they’ve not won back-to-back away games since the first week of September. Thanks to a late winner, they beat Fulham when last in action away from the comforts of Old Trafford, but that was their first travelling victory in three. Though Marcus Rashford will be buoyed by recent efforts.
Their main problem has been a lack of defensive solidity, conceding in six out of eight away games, including in each of their last five. During that time, they have shipped 12 goals.
Usually not much in it
United had begun to dominate this fixture, winning three out of four before Wolves came out on top with a 0-1 victory at Old Trafford roughly a year ago, which is when the pair last met.
There’s usually not much between the pair, either, with each of the last four renewals being settled by just a single goal. Interestingly, each of the last 11 games between Wolves and Man United have either ended in a draw or a one-goal victory. It’s been very tight indeed. It’s also been a goal-shy fixture, with more than one goal being scored in just five of the last 11, and just one of the last seven.
WWFC vs MUFC: Goals to stay away from this game
Manchester United arrive here in fine scoring form after dismantling a relatively weak Nottingham Forest rear guard, but if we scratch beneath the surface, it’s easy to feel that they could struggle to really get going at Molineux. Prior to beating Fulham, they produced an xG of just 0.5. Before that, at Chelsea, it was 0.8, and before that, at Newcastle, it was 0.8 also.
If we add into the mix the poor attacking numbers produced by Wolves, then a case can certainly be made for ‘Under 2.5 Goals’ at just below even money.
Yes, Lopetegui’s players scored twice at Goodison, but they did so from an expected goals total of 0.8, which tells us that they were perhaps fortunate. Prior to that, they produced a total of 0.7 against Arsenal at home, while their xG totals at home to other top-six teams such as Newcastle and Manchester City read 0.4 and 0.7. At home to top-six teams this term, they have scored just one goal in three games.
Similarly, when heavily fancied against teams lower down the table, Manchester United have underwhelmed slightly from an attacking point of view. They have scored five goals in five games against teams currently ranked 10th and below. Consider this in conjunction with the above and a low-scoring game seems slightly more likely than the early prices suggest.
After all, when these two teams get together, it’s usually tight, and it’s usually low-scoring, with only one of the seven renewals since the beginning of 2020 producing more than two goals. So this is the betting tips verdict for this WWFC vs MUFC preview:
- Under 2.5 Goals @ 10/11 with Bet365.
Bradley Gibbs is an experienced football writer. He is an expert analyst on Premier League, and all global football leagues & tournaments, for Just Bookies. Bradley has been published by many respected outlets, including USA Betting and the Racing & Football Outlook. He has also written betting strategy guides.