Having climbed to the top of the Premier League standings, Manchester United head into the Wolfsburg clash high on spirits, albeit under pressure to make amends for the PSV defeat. The Wolves enjoyed a bright start to the Champions League campaign, beating CSKA Moscow, and now have a chance to further improve their position in Group B.
It took Manchester United more than two years to climb back to the Premier League summit, and the barren run came to an end this weekend as the victory over Sunderland saw the Red Devils take advantage of Manchester City’s slip-up to climb to the top. This is likely to serve as a major boost ahead of some important games that will be played in October, although Louis van Gaal’s charges first need to negotiate the Champions League game against Wolfsburg. There have been plenty of reason for optimism in the Manchester United camp of late, with serious improvement in attack one of the biggest positives. And not only did Anthony Martial enjoy a perfect start to his career in England, but the likes of Wayne Rooney, Juan Mata and Memphis Depay all returned to scoring ways, with the Red Devils bagging three goals in four of their last five matches. The one game where they were not at their attacking best saw them lose to PSV Eindhoven, and United now have no choice but to go for a win against very good Wolfsburg side. Louis van Gaal will have to make do without Michael Carrick, whilst Antonio Valencia and Ander Herrera are both rated doubtful.
Wolfsburg have emerged as one of Germany’s strongest sides over the years and they impressed to come very close to mounting a serious title challenge in the Bundesliga. The Wolves were unable to keep hold of attacking midfielders Kevin De Bruyne and Ivan Perisic this summer, but replaced them with Max Kruse and Julian Draxler, while also reinforcing the back line with Carlos Ascues and Dante. Dieter Hecking’s charges in turn started the season strongly, recording three wins and two draws in first five Bundesliga games, while also securing an important Champions League win over CSKA Moscow. The Wolves did everything they could to match Bayern Munich in their next match, but while they were a goal up at half-time, Robert Lewandowski and his five goals ensured that Wolfsburg players returned home empty-handed. In spite of the heavy defeat, the German side arrive at Old Trafford confident in their own qualities and chances are they will be looking for every opportunity to hurt their more illustrious opponents on the break. The absence of Luiz Gustavo will be a blow, whereas Vieiringa and Koen Casteels both face fitness tests.
Manchester United have been notching goals for fun since Anthony Martial arrived at Old Trafford, but their back line has been far from impressive of late. And with Wolfsburg boasting a formidable attack led by in-form Bas Dost, backing both teams to score looks the right thing to do.
Verdict: Both teams to score
Best Odds: 8/11
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