Manchester United look to continue their good form as they host Wolverhampton Wanderers at Old Trafford in the Barclays Premier League.
Hot off their 3-0 win over Bursaspor in the UEFA Champions League, United have now reeled off 23 consecutive matches without a defeat and have won their five games, so they should be more than ready for the return visit of Wolves.
Just 12 days prior to this match, and at the same venue, Wolves and United put together a second-half showpiece as the Reds defeated the visitors 3-2 to advance to the quarter-finals in the Carling Cup.
The Carling Cup match between the two was very dull in the first-half, but the half-time team talks from Sir Alex Ferguson and Mick McCarthy must a lit a fire under their respective teams, because the crowd was treated to five goals after the break.
United jumped out in front when summer signing, Bébé, scored his first goal for the club, but that lead last only four minutes as George Elokobi used his power to head from close range.
Ji-Sung Park restored the United lead, but, again, Wolves battled back and leveled the score with fine finish from Kevin Foley.
With the game looking destined for extra-time, Ferguson introduced Javier Hernandez, and the little Mexican stole the show with a neat left-footed finish just before stoppage-time to give United the 3-2 win.
Wolves’ confidence continued from that match at the Theater of Dreams as they did United a real favor by beating their city-rivals, Manchester City, 2-1 at the Molineux Stadium, so they will be in good spirits for the match as well.
Even with that impressive win, McCarthy’s men are in 19th place on nine points, because of the other relegation-threatened clubs all had favorable results as well.
The reason that Wolves are in the relegation zone is that they are fifth in Premier League in goals allowed with 16, which, to be fair to them, is only four more than United has conceded this season.
However, Wolverhampton showed during their last three performances against three of the top teams in England – Chelsea, United and City – that are better than their position in the league and will provide a stern resistance for any team.
There has been shouts, mainly from Fulham’s Danny Murphy, that McCarthy has instilled an unhealthy aggressive mentality in his players, but, recently, Ferguson stood up against any critics the former Manchester City player’s tactics.
The Midlands club is in a very similar position with their goals scored as well, because they are sixth from bottom with only 10 goals – a far cry from United’s 22.
The is evident cause for their low goal total so far, and that is that their star striker has yet to score in nine matches.
Kevin Doyle, who has the onus of being Wolves most-expensive player, has not registered a Premier League goal this season.
Wolverhampton has three leading goal scorers with each Steven Fletcher, Sylvan Ebanks-Blake and Matthew Jarvis all scoring two goals apiece.
However, it has been the latter of three that has been the most impressive player for McCarthy this season, and he is even calling for Jarvis to get an international call-up for England in November.
Based on his fine performance at Old Trafford, many cannot argue with the former Ireland boss’ request.
Ferguson has some injury concerns ahead of this match with both Nani and Darren Fletcher being forced off in United’s 3-0 win over Bursaspor in the midweek.
Nani felt his groin, and Fletcher, after he scored the opening goal, received a knock on his ankle and both were withdrawn in the first and second-half, respectively.
Rio Ferdinand should be fresh and ready to go after missing the match in Turkey, and although he traveled with the team, Chicharito should ready for the match as well.
Ultimately, Manchester United should extend their unbeaten streak to 24, and keep their resurgent Barclays Premier League title hope alive, but they will need to cut out the errors that gifted Wolverhampton their two goals in their last meeting.
Out: A. Valencia (leg), W. Rooney (ankle), Nani (groin), O. Hargreaves (knee), M. Owen (hamstring), D. Gibson (virus); Doubtful: R. Giggs (hamstring), D. Fletcher (ankle), Anderson (knee)
E. van der Sar; J. O’Shea, R. Ferdinand, N. Vidic, P. Evra; P. Scholes, M. Carrick, J. S. Park, G. Obertan; J. Hernandez, D. Berbatov
Manchester United 1 Wolverhampton Wanderers 0