Wolves v Manchester United
Monday August 19, 20:00
Live on Sky Sports
Wolves looking well as season gets going
Thanks to the Europa League, Wolves' season started earlier than most with five competitive fixtures under their belt since it began at home to Crusaders in late July. And Nuno Espirito Santo's team have eased into their stride in pleasing fashion, dismissing all before them in the European competition's qualification stages by an aggregate 14-1 scoreline. The Premier League delivered a sterner test in the form of Leicester last weekend and Wolves' winning run was interrupted thanks to a 0-0 draw, but VAR denied them a goal there and a point away at the Foxes is not a bad result.
Wolves are nice and settled under Espirito Santo, who leads the team for a third consecutive season, and conducted their summer transfer business in neat and tidy fashion adding some young talent to the squad while capturing a couple of experienced loan performers in Raúl Jiménez and Leander Dendoncker on permanent deals. They look equipped to enjoy another impressive season.
Good signs for United but more evidence is needed
A 4-0 defeat of Chelsea should always be celebrated by any Premier League team but the caveats to United's opening day win have to be noted. Their opponents twice struck the woodwork and were extremely competitive until a late goal assault - the final three coming after the 65th minute. Nevertheless, after the misery of last season's dispiriting fade in the final few months the win will have been very welcome at Old Trafford. Harry Maguire has undoubtedly added steel and composure to the backline (as you'd hope from any £80m upgrade!) and the spine of the team looks solid with Paul Pogba and Anthony Martial, who now wears Romelu Lukaku's no.9 shirt, further up the field.
Wolves look overpriced for the win
Betfair Exchange customers make United favourites to win this one despite being the away side. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men head the market at 2.447/5 with Wolves and the draw both 3.3512/5. I think those odds underestimate the home side far too much.
As Opta tell us, Wolves are unbeaten in eight Premier League home games (W6 D2) and twice got the better of the visitors last season, winning league and cup clashes 2-1. The hosts have a near clean bill of fitness and many of the second string figured in the 4-0 Thursday night dismissal of Armenian side Pyunik Yerevan.
Only nine points separated these sides last season, in a campaign where United lost seven games away from home. I don't believe I am underestimating the visitors but, for me, the value lies entirely with the hosts. The panel on Football...Only Bettor, our new football podcast were in pretty unilateral agreement.
Defences expected to be on top
The goals markets point to a low-scoring game with under 2.5 odds-on at 1.84/5. That makes sense - both kept clean sheets last time out, and Wolves' impressive backline has only been breached once this season. Both fixtures at Molineux, however, finished 2-1 last year. Ultimately the over/under markets don't appear to be offering any winning angles for me.
Two forwards to open up the scoring
I struggle to find obvious value in goalscorer markets but plenty of punters love them and two men stand out in this match. For the home side, an Opta stat catches the eye about Jiménez: the Mexican forward was involved in seven Premier League goals against 'big six' sides last season (four goals and three assists). Jiménez is 9/2 on the Betfair Sportsbook to score first. At slightly longer odds, Martial is on 49 goals for United in all competitions. He is 6/1 to open the scoring.