Continuing on their eye-catching run since returning from the World Cup break, Manchester United picked up a late 1-0 victory away at Wolves on Saturday lunchtime.
With their sights firmly set on securing a Champions League return this season, it was the red-hot Marcus Rashford who fired Erik ten Hag’s men back into the top-four after bagging the winner 14 minutes from the end.
Now winning each of their last three domestic outings since returning from the winter interval, the Red Devils also piled more pressure onto a Wolves side that find themselves at the heart of a relegation scrap.
Although Saturday’s hosts might have opened Julen Lopetegui’s tenure with a last-gasp 2-1 victory away at Wolves earlier in the week, the Oranges certainly came crashing back down to earth here.
On an afternoon when United managed to lay down a real marker at Molineux, we have taken a look at the main talking points.
United firing under ten Hag
Although the Premier League giants might have opened the 2022/23 campaign in the midst of a rather public struggle, Manchester United have come roaring back in some style.
Really appearing to have found their feet under the former Ajax boss, Saturday’s guests are now tipped as one of the leading contenders to claim a much-needed Champions League return.
Marking their return to top-flight action earlier in the week as they breezed their way to a 3-0 romp at home against Nottingham Forest, there is no doubt that the mood in ten Hag’s camp should be at a real high.
Likewise, along with extending on their EFL Cup run on December 21st as they claimed a 2-0 victory against Championship high-flyers Burnley, fans around Old Trafford will also be excited by their side’s new-found resolve at the back.
Yet to concede a single strike since returning from the World Cup break, the Red Devils will simply be looking to keep up their recent momentum in 2023.
Finding a route into the top-four and suffering just a single Premier League defeat since the start of October, United’s decision to appoint ten Hag over the summer certainly appears to have been a smart move.
Who can stop Rashford?
Despite shockingly being dropped from ten Hag’s starting XI on Saturday lunchtime after oversleeping and missing a team meeting prior to kick-off, it was once again Rashford whole stole all of the headlines here.
While the former Premier League champions might have seen Cristiano Ronaldo complete his messy divorce from the club last month, the England international once again showed that he can be United’s main man in 2023.
Mustering three World Cup strikes out in Qatar as England eventually fell at the quarter-final stage, United’s homegrown star appears to be back to his clinical best and has only continued to gain a string of praise from ten Hag.
Coming off the bench in the second-half and eventually bagging the winner on Saturday, the 25-year-old has now found the net in all three of the Reds’ victories since returning from the festive break.
Clearly enjoying life as United’s out-and-out attacking option, Rashford has now notched 11 strikes across all formats this season – more than double any other Old Trafford star has produced this season.
Wolves bracing themselves for a scrap
Opening Lopetegui’s tenure in charge with a last-gasp 2-1 victory away at fellow strugglers Everton earlier in the week, Wolves were desperate to spring a major upset on Saturday lunchtime.
However, while it might have been another largely rugged display from the Oranges, they still find themselves firmly at the heart of a scrap to maintain their Premier League status in 2023.
Opening the New Year sat in the bottom-three, the ex-Sevilla boss will be demanding that his new squad find some much-needed stability sooner rather than later.
With Saturday’s 1-0 loss their third Premier League defeat from their last four appearances, Wolves have also claimed maximum points in just a pair of their previous 11 top-flight showdowns – a run that stems all the way back to September 3rd.
Facing what is a must-win battle against Midlands rivals Aston Villa next week, the former top-six contenders have also gained a reputation for their continued issues on home soil.
In fact, Wolves have now lost each of their last four straight Premier League matchups at Molineux by an aggregate score of 10-2.
Wolves: Sa, Semedo, Collins, Kilman, Bueno, Neves, Nunes, Hwang, Moutinho, Podence, Costa
Subs: Ait-Nouri, Jiminez, Jonny, Gomes, Traore
Manchester United: De Gea, Wan-Bissaka, Varane, Shaw, Malacia, Casemiro, Eriksen, Antony, Fernandes, Garnacho, Martial
Subs: Fred, Rashford, Maguire, Elanga, Van de Beek
Goals: Rashford (76′)
Yellow Cards: Wolves: Semedo – Manchester United: Fred, Rashford, Casemiro
Red Cards: N/A
Referee: Mike Dean
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