MX23RW : Wednesday, February 20 22:41:40

Preview: Manchester United vs. Wolverhampton Wanderers - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole provides predicted lineups, team news and a full match preview of the Premier League game between Manchester United and Wolves.

Manchester United head into Saturday's Premier League encounter with Wolverhampton Wanderers having recorded three successive victories in all competitions, which includes a 3-0 win over Young Boys in the Champions League on Wednesday night.

Wolves make the trip to Old Trafford having put together a four-match unbeaten streak of their own in the league and EFL Cup, and Nuno Espirito Santo will relish the chance to go head to head with a manager in Jose Mourinho under whom he featured during his playing days.

Manchester United

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho applauds supporters following his side's 3-0 defeat at home to Tottenham Hotspur on August 27, 2018© Reuters

The August defeat to Tottenham Hotspur left Mourinho facing constant speculation about his future at United, but his side's results since the beginning of September have eased claims of alleged tension behind the scenes.

United were expected to beat each of Burnley, Watford and Young Boys - all on the road - but seven goals have been scored in the process and it goes against the theory that Mourinho is a defensive-minded manager.

There remain concerns regarding a defence which Mourinho wanted to strengthen during the summer transfer window, although conceding just once in 270 minutes of football suggests that the Portuguese has perhaps found a solution at the back.

All in all, this is a United side who are showing character at a time when their resolve was being tested and questioned, and there will be an increased level of positivity in the stands when the players take to the pitch on Saturday afternoon.

United still only sit in eighth position in the Premier League standings, but Mourinho will be optimistic that maximum points can be recorded from fixtures against Wolves, West Ham United and Newcastle United.

The club will likely find themselves in the top five should they meet their targets over the coming weeks, and with Liverpool meeting Manchester City before the next international break, there is an opening for Mourinho to get United back into contention at the top of the table.

Romelu Lukaku is likely to prove key to any winning run, and the Belgian will believe that he can add to his streak of four goals from five outings in this season's top flight.

Fellow attacker Anthony Martial will also hope that his scoring contribution in the Champions League in midweek will lead to him building on just 79 minutes of league action since the start of the campaign.

Recent form: WLLWW
Recent form (all competitions): WLLWWW

Wolverhampton Wanderers

Wolverhampton Wanderers head coach Nuno Espirito Santo celebrates his side's latest victory on September 16, 2018© Reuters

Wolves were given a fixture list which included a run of six games against teams who finished no lower than 13th spot in the standings last season, but the newly-promoted side have indicated that they have ambitions to finish well above that mark come May.

Nuno's men suffered defeat at Leicester City on the second weekend of the campaign, but back-to-back wins over West Ham and Burnley - after an excellent draw against Manchester City - have really set tongues wagging up and down the country.

Wolves have only emerged victorious by a 1-0 scoreline in their last two games, but the manner of their performances has suggested that they are capable of running riot against one of their upcoming opponents.

As many as 30 shots on goal were registered against Burnley last weekend - the second most in the Premier League this season - and although just seven were on target, Wolves will score with more regularity providing that they continue to get into the right positions.

Saturday provides Nuno with the first chance to take his team to one of the "top six" clubs, but the Portuguese is unlikely to take a backwards step on Wolves' visit to the Theatre of Dreams.

Wolves showed against Man City that they will not be overawed upon their return to the big time, and the likes of Ruben Neves and Joao Moutinho will relish the chance to showcase their ability on one of football's grandest stages.

The progress of Neves is allegedly being monitored by United, but the 21-year-old will only be focused on helping his side try to achieve the win which would see Wolves overtake United in the table.

That is the reality of how far Wolves have come since the arrival of Fosun International and Nuno, and any kind of positive result at United would suggest that this emerging juggernaut will not be slowing down anytime soon.

Recent form: DLDWW
Recent form (all competitions): DLDWWW

Team News

Antonio Valencia in action for Manchester United in the FA Cup semi-final on April 21, 2018© Reuters

Antonio Valencia is expected to return at right-back, having missed the trip to Young Boys due to the Swiss side's artificial pitch.

Diogo Dalot will drop out - despite an impressive debut - while United will be without the suspended Nemanja Matic and Marcus Rashford.

Ander Herrera could return in the middle of the park, while Marouane Fellaini, Juan Mata and Alexis Sanchez may all be recalled to the starting lineup.

Barring any late fitness issues, Nuno will opt to name the same starting lineup in the Premier League for the sixth successive match.

Summer signing Adama Traore is pushing for his first league start, but the winger will likely have to make do with a spot among the replacements.

Manchester United possible starting lineup:
De Gea; Valencia, Smalling, Lindelof, Shaw; Herrera, Fred; Sanchez, Fellaini, Mata; Lukaku

Wolverhampton Wanderers possible starting lineup:
Patricio; Bennett, Coady, Boly; Doherty, Neves, Moutinho, Jonny; Jota, Costa; Jimenez

Head To Head

Saturday's meeting represents the 99th competitive fixture between the two clubs, with United recording 48 wins in comparison to 34 victories for Wolves.

There has not been a draw since Wolves won promotion to the Premier League in 2003, with United prevailing nine times out of 11 contests.

The most recent encounter took place in March 2012 as United registered a 5-0 triumph at Molineux.

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We say: Manchester United 3-1 Wolverhampton Wanderers

Wolves will make the trip to the North-West of England high on confidence, but United are starting to find their feet. Mourinho's side only have a small period of recovery after the midweek match in Switzerland, but they should have enough to edge out the West Midlands team.

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Marcus Rashford in action for Manchester United on August 19, 2018
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1Manchester CityMan City27212474205465
3Tottenham HotspurSpurs26200654252960
4Manchester UnitedMan Utd26156552351751
7Wolverhampton WanderersWolves2611693433139
10West Ham UnitedWest Ham2696113239-733
12Leicester CityLeicester2695123134-332
13Crystal Palace2676132734-727
14Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton2676132839-1127
16Newcastle UnitedNewcastle2667132234-1225
17Cardiff CityCardiff2674152447-2325
20Huddersfield TownHuddersfield2625191448-3411

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