Wolves 2-1 Manchester United: Five Things We Learned
By James Wynn
Wolves beat Manchester United for the second time in 17 days, earning a valuable three points to consolidate seventh place. Here are five things I took from the game.
1. The big six do not like playing Wolves
Yet again, one of England’s biggest clubs have come up against Wolves and lost. In ten Premier League games against the top six, Wolves have earned 13 points, more than any other side in the league. Coupled with two FA Cup wins against Liverpool and Manchester United, the record makes for very impressive reading. It is well documented that Wolves’ game plan is suited to breaking at pace, and many pundits have recognised how dangerous they are without the ball. Evidently, this is the reason for the success against the top teams, and also the crazy fact that Wolves have received three fewer points against the bottom six than the top six.
2. The Jimenez and Jota duo is key
Whilst on Saturday the front two of Cavaleiro and Jota didn’t really click, the introduction of Raul Jimenez once again proved how vital he is to this team as if anyone needed convincing. One thing that the pairing guarantee is converting at least one chance, with Wolves only having two shots on target, a far cry from the woes the front three of Jota, Jimenez and Costa suffered in the first few months, especially in games against Burnley and Arsenal. One relief is that both survived without injury and will again be raring to go at Wembley on Sunday.
3. Patricio comes up good
One key ingredient of the victory was the performance of Rui Patricio. Whilst the Portugal no.1 has come in for some stick for his distribution this season, one thing that cannot be doubted is his shot-stopping ability. Patricio made key saves from Lukaku and stopped a second-half McTominay header unbelievably, whilst moving towards his near post, at point-blank range. Hopefully, this quells some of the criticism Patricio has received in recent weeks, and, although unlikely, it is clear to me he is deserving of a start at Wembley.
4. Another poor start
Whilst the performance and result, on the whole, are overwhelmingly positive, one negative is that yet again, Wolves conceded early and took a while to get out of the blocks. Whilst not quite as disastrous as going behind inside 100 seconds at Turf Moor on Saturday, Manchester United had full control of the first 15 minutes, and Wolves conceded early for the second game running. Worryingly at the time, Manchester United had only dropped points when scoring first once this season (also against Wolves, at Old Trafford in September), and had not lost a game when scoring first since August 2015, when they lost 2-1 at the Liberty Stadium. However, Wolves must take massive credit from overcoming this, especially considering that in Nuno’s first five months in charge, Wolves did not win a game when conceding first.
5. No injury worries and a confidence boost before Wembley
Pre-match talk suggested that Nuno could ring the changes for this game, with the aim of keeping the paper-thin squad fit before Wembley on Sunday. However, barring Ruben Vinagre starting over Jonny, it was probably Nuno’s first XI on the field. Most importantly, no injuries were suffered in the game, but even better, the win will give Nuno’s men an important confidence boost before the biggest game the club has had in many years, and a big chance to become the first Wolves team to get to an FA Cup final since 1960, and the first to get to any major final for 39 years. No pressure then…
James Wynn is a Talking Wolves blogger and sports writer. You can follow him on Twitter here
Images: Press Associaton