For the first time since August, Manchester United have had an empty week to prepare for a Premier League (PL) match, a relief for manager Erik ten Hag who has seen his side slump to back-to-back defeats.
The Dutchman gave his players two days off to rest after their lacklustre 1-0 loss at West Ham, a decision he’ll be hoping pays off as the Red Devils hold just a one-point buffer over the chasing pack inside the top-four, albeit while retaining a game in hand.
Ten Hag was keen to remind his side that ‘everything’ is in their hands, and with three of their four remaining PL games coming at Old Trafford, there’s every reason to believe they will play in the UEFA Champions League next season.
That’s backed up by an unbeaten 26-game run in home matches (W22, D4), with their last home PL defeat on home soil coming against Brighton on the opening day of the season, indicating that the fear factor may well have returned to the Theatre of Dreams.
Visiting Wolves have only won once at Old Trafford since 1980 (D3, L10), but that sole victory did come last season, and Julen Lopetegui’s side should be full of confidence after a 1-0 win over Aston Villa last week mathematically confirmed their safety.
They’re just the fourth side in PL history to be bottom at Christmas and survive, so it’s little wonder Lopetegui describes it as his ‘most difficult achievement in football’.
With the pressure lifted from their shoulders, perhaps Wolves can now target an improvement on the road as they’ve won just two of their last 21 PL away matches (D6, L13).
To do that, they’ll likely have to build on their measly one away clean sheet in the league as only one of the last eight H2H meetings with Man Utd have seen both teams on the scoresheet.
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