After a positive first season under Erik ten Hag, Manchester United head into 2022/23 looking to build on a top-three finish and Carabao Cup success that helped restore faith that the good times may be on their way back to Old Trafford. Another transformational summer has seen the Red Devils bolster their squad at both ends of the pitch, leaving the Dutch boss confident his side are “capable of winning every game”.
Ten Hag will be looking to replicate his two permanent predecessors in finishing higher in his second season than his first, and maintaining their incredible home form is surely key to that, as United went unbeaten in their last 29 games of the competitive campaign at Old Trafford (W25, D4). Improvements will likely focus on attack, as the 58 goals they managed in the Premier League (PL) last season was the lowest among top-six sides by at least ten!
Wolves make the trip to Manchester in turmoil, with Julen Lopetegui departing Molineux in the build up to this curtain raiser. The Spaniard oversaw an incredible recovery to keep the club in the division last term, but a chastening summer that saw several key players depart without replacements forced Lopetegui’s hand. Financial Fair Play issues continue to plague Wolves, despite the fees recouped for Rúben Neves and Nathan Collins, but new boss Gary O’Neil is used to walking into a crisis.
The Englishman made the step up at Bournemouth last year after a 9-0 thrashing against Liverpool, and guided the Cherries to a six-match unbeaten streak (W2, D4). A similar turnaround isn’t quite required here, but ending an eight-match winless streak on the road in the PL represents quite the challenge (D2, L6), especially against an opponent they’ve won just one of the last ten H2Hs against (D3, L6).
Key battle: Last term, Marcus Rashford became the first United player to score 30 goals in a season since Robin van Persie in 2012/13, one of which came in a 1-0 H2H victory after he was benched for being late. Returning wing-back Matt Doherty could be up against Rashford, and he has happy memories of this fixture having never lost a PL H2H as a Wolves player (W1, D3).
Hot stat: Man Utd have won six of their last eight opening day fixtures (L2), with both defeats coming at Old Trafford.
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