United v Wolves Preview!
It`s time to cast aside that self pity that has descended upon Old Trafford following our Champions League demise and concentrate on getting that gap between ourselves and Manchester City closed, at the top of the Premier League.
Many would say that a visit form a beleaguered Wolves side is just the tonic we need. Mick McCarthy`s side are notoriously bad travelers and their record on the road isn`t any thing to cheer about.
But Mick is a canny character and although he conceded all three points at Old Trafford a couple of seasons ago by playing a weakened side, he`ll sense that this could be his sides` opportunity to inflict further pain on our club.
So although it may seem to be an ideal opportunity to take the three points on offer, it`d pay us to take nothing for granted.
Saturday could very well be a watershed in our season. The need to get back to winning ways is paramount and if we`re looking for inspiration then look no further than the words of Patrice Evra who, trying to focus on a way forward after the Champions League debacle has remarked,
"I`m not happy when we`re second in the league and certainly not happy when we go out of the Champions League."
"I wasn`t happy from the beginning of this Champions League campaign. I`ll be happy the day we are first in the table and let`s see what we can do in the Europa League"
What`s gone has gone! Let`s look to the future!
United Team News:
Sir Alex Ferguson must be musing over just how many more of his stars are going to be struck down by injury this season.
We head off into the Wolves fixture with Nemanja Vidic joining a lengthy list of casualties that already includes Anderson, Owen, Cleverley, Fabio, Rafael and Hernandez, whilst Young looked to have aggravated an old injury on Wednesday evening.
It`ll be interesting to see who Sir Alex decides to play in the middle of the defence. Which of the three available - Jones, Ferdinand and Evans will get the nod?
In midfield, having not been selected for the starting eleven for the Basel game, we expect Fletcher to return.
Up front, we can see Welbeck resuming duties alongside Rooney.
But, possibly, the biggest question after the Basel game, relates to whether Sir Alex will stick with De Gea, who looked shaky at times, or go with Lindegaard.
Player to watch: Wayne Rooney
Now that his international ban has been chopped from three games to two, we`re hoping that it acts as the catalyst to get those goals flowing again. After such a prolific start to the season, Wayne hasn`t scored a goal from open play since September - time to put that right young man! Sticking with the stats, it`s worth pointing out that although Wayne has gone eight Premier League games without scoring, he has never gone nine!
Wolves Team News:
Mick McCarthy brings his Wolves squad to Old Trafford with doubts over his central defender, Jody Craddock. If Craddock is unable to play it is expected that his signing from Birmingham City, Roger Johnson, will take the vacant defensive spot.
In midfield, Karl Henry should return after serving a one game suspension.
Mick McCarty`s squad also has several players set to notch up personal milestones if selected. If fit Jody Craddock will be starting his 500th league game, with his possible replacement, Roger Johnson; if selected, could notch up his 400th appearance. Joining these are the duo of George Elokobi and Matt Jarvis. The former is set to make appearance number 100 and the latter appearance number 250.
Player to watch: Matt Jarvis
I watched this lad closely last weekend as Wolves came back from 1-0 down to win 2-1. His direct running allied with his ball skills, out wide, could provide Wolves with an outlet to trouble us. United will need to keep a tight watch on this lad if they want to quash the supply line to the Wolves strikers.
Match Facts & Stats
As mentioned previously, Mick McCarthy has used this fixture to rest not jus tone or two of his regular starters, but all eleven, a ploy which, subsequently, cost the club a fine. Seemingly, Wolves didn`t believe they`d get anything from a trip to Old Trafford preferring to save the legs for far closer battles.
We doubt that Mick will be so down beat this time around though, especially as his side will have been buoyed by their fine comeback last week against Sunderland to over-turn a 1-0 deficit to win 2-1
As too recent fixtures between the two sides, United have won 3 out of the last 4.
Wolves, on visits to Old Trafford, have not won since February 1980 and their away form, this season doesn`t suggest it is a trend they can reverse with Wolves having not won away from home since the opening fixture of the season, against Blackburn Rovers.
If we can get away for our current penchant of scoring just a goal a game, we can explode back into the title race. Wolves, at home, provides us with just that opportunity. I`m taking it be a decent win, possibly 3-0 to United and with Rooney scoring twice from open play - remember where you read it first.
Our next fixture sees United venture back to West London when we visit Loftus Road to take on Queens Park Rangers next Sunday