• Wolves were disallowed a goal against Leicester following VAR’s intervention.
• Wolves proved last season that they aren’t afraid of anyone in the top flight.
Nuno Espirito Santo has probably just about got over last weekend’s controversial VAR call against his side.
Willy Boly was adjudged to have handled the ball before Leander Dendoncker fired home in the goalless stalemate against Leicester.
There was confusion before the Premier League tweeted and sent a clarifying email out to reporters saying the goal was ruled out because, regardless of intent, if a handball sets up a goalscoring opportunity it is deemed an offence.
There were no such controversies for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and his buoyant group of Manchester United players, who comfortably beat Chelsea 4-0.
But Solskjaer will know Wolves, at Molineux, are not to be taken lightly. United lost twice there in the FA Cup and the Premier League last season. Solskjaer remembers those two results well and will want to show how his summer of coaching has paid off.
Whether Nuno likes it or not, Wolves are expected to push on this season. They did ever so well last year to qualify for the Europa League. Their quality, particularly in midfield, is what puts them towards the top end of the Premier League’s middle class.
This season will be one of the most demanding for the Wolves players mainly because Nuno likes to run with a small squad. He likes to rely on players he trusts, which is fine. But, assuming further progress is made in Europe, something will have to give, surely?
Only when we get deeper into the season will we fully understand the limits of this Wolves squad. For now, and their first home game of the season, they are in good shape.
Their three-man central defence of Ryan Bennett, Conor Coady and Boly is settled but can be exploited by a fast attack.
It is in midfield where Wolves are able to control games and create very good chances. Most attacks tend to start with Ruben Neves or Dendoncker, who both occupy deep, central positions. Joao Moutinho has the option to go forward or swap positions with Neves.
Quick, short passes are used to build tempo and give less time to the opposition to get close to them. Against Manchester United they will aim to retain as much possession as possible. They will be vulnerable should one of those central midfielders lose the ball high up the pitch.
We saw on the opening day just how easy it was for United to work the ball forward (through Pogba’s excellence) and profit.
Chelsea made them look a top-class side... can they rise to beat a side with a clear understanding of what they do? Before we start, it must be said how Chelsea made Manchester United appear much better than perhaps they actually are. Or I am wrong and in which case United will comfortably qualify for the Champions League.
Now that is out of the way it’s also important to note that this United team isn’t terrible, either. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has clearly got his players playing in a style that attempts to get the best out of Paul Pogba while incorporating a centre forward and two inside forwards.
Marcus Rashford was a big positive for United last weekend. He was quick, mentally sharp and finished with precision. Not only that he seemed more aggressive in his play, too. Wolves, unlike Frank Lampard’s Chelsea, are a mature team in terms of their tactical intelligence. They understand what is asked of them because they’ve done it a 100 times over.
That is where Solskjaer fell down last season. His players were caught by a Wolves side that was truly competent and comfortable in what they were being asked to do. United are now at an advanced stage in their learning and have more ways of punishing Wolves than before.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka, ‘a proper Manchester United player’, according to Solskjaer. By that he means someone who can attack and defend.
He was excellent against Chelsea, scurrying down the right flank while retreating back to the byline when necessary. Anthony Martial had a promising game, too, against Chelsea. United will need Pogba to be at the peak of his powers yet again. Should he find ways to connect the attack as he did against Chelsea, United should find enough ways to get shots on target.