Contrasting results in the capital for Wolves and United on Sunday has set this up to be a stellar FA Cup sixth-round tie.
It was the first real bump in the road for the steering Ole Gunnar Solskjær, as his side dropped to 5th in the Premier League; while Nuno Espírito Santo’s men pulled off yet another big six shock.
Wembley is just a win away as the international break looms.
Kick-off: 19:55 [GMT]
Venue: Molineux Stadium
Referee: Martin Atkinson
UK television channel: BBC 1
Premier League fixture: Manchester United 1-1 Wolverhampton Wanderers (Fred) (Moutinho)
Recent form: DLWDW
Top scorer: Raúl Jiménez 
Most assists: João Moutinho 
One to watch: Rúben Neves
Previous result: Chelsea 1-1 Wolverhampton Wanderers
Road to the round:
Starting with a 2-1 victory over a weakened Liverpool side, the fourth round against Shrewsbury Town had to be settled in a 3-2 replay win at Molineux after a 2-2 draw at New Meadow.
Bristol City were then dispatched in the most recent tie, with Ivan Cavaleiro netting the only goal – another Portuguese prodigy.
Wolves have been very decent against the big six this season, boasting a record of W3 D4 L3 in their 10 games in all competitions.
It was almost another win to add to that tally at the weekend, with Mexican striker Raùl Jiménez opening the scoring before Eden Hazard netted a 92nd-minute equaliser.
Opposition boss Maurizio Sarri claimed that they were ‘not organised’ at Stamford Bridge, however that sort of flippant criticism is unlikely to faze them.
The 1-1 draw at Old Trafford back in September was where Wolves really began to show their quality against the big boys, with João Moutinho netting in the second half following Fred’s first half opener.
Diogo Jota, who earned his first Portugal national team call-up on Friday, told the club’s official webiste: “One of the reasons I came here was top play in big cup matches against teams like Manchester United. It’s an important stage now and we know it’s a big game, but no different from the one we had last week against Chelsea.”
(3-4-1-2) Ruddy; Romain Saïss, Coady, Boly; Doherty, Gibbs-White, Neves, Jonny; Moutinho; Jiménez, Jota.
Quote from the boss
“We have to manage our emotions so we can have good actions during the game – what happens outside cannot change your behaviour.” – Nuno Espírito Santo
Next match: Burnely [A] 30/3/19
The Red Devils
Despite creating plenty of chances to keep stay in fourth place last time out, a David De Gea misjudgement and a soft penalty given away by Fred gave United their first away defeat under Solskjær.
Mason Greenwood came on to make his senior league debut and looked lively, constantly making himself an option.
Romelu Lukaku and Marcus Rashford had hangovers in front of goal from their heroics in Paris, so will be hoping to be back at it in this one.
During the second goal celebrations, Chris Smalling was shoved by a spectator, adding to last weekend’s astonishing events across the country.
The FA Cup has been a source of successful for United so far, with the Red Devils winning at Arsenal and some revenge over Chelsea to get them within touching distance of another Wembley trip.
Unlike in 2016 against West Ham United, a replay will not be needed to settle this one, with all being decided on the night – so it could be a late one.
On Friday, United were drawn against Barcelona in the Champions League quarter-finals. The first leg will be played at Old Trafford rather than the original draw due to Manchester City’s tie against Tottenham Hotspur.
If the Red Devils progress in Catalonia, they will face either FC Porto or Liverpool.
Finally, Friday was Paul Pogba’s 26th birthday, as he pledged £26,000 for Charity Water.
With a few returning players, the squad looks stronger as the injury list trims down.
Ashley Young, a mainstay since Solskjær came in, will miss out after picking up a second yellow card of the competition against in the fifth round.
Juan Mata has returned to training and is in contention, along with fellow Spaniard Ander Herrera.
Jesse Lingard is back running but was left out of England’s squad (which Marcus Rashford and Luke Shaw were) for the international break next weekend.
Tahith Chong, James Garner (who signed a new three-year deal on Friday) and Angel Gomes all featured in Midtjylland midweek for the U19s in their 1-3 defeat. Greenwood was not involved, so may feature here.
Lukaku will also miss out due to a foot injury, with no return date set.
Also, defender Phil Jones is back and the title-winner made light about the chances of a testimonial to Goal midweek, saying: “I wouldn’t go that far, there’d be only my mum and dad who would turn up.”
In his press conference, Solskjær revealed that he was ‘hoping for Alexis Sánchez to return by the run-in. The Chilean is currently in Barcelona.
On the topic of the Emirates defeat, the boss joked “It’s not like we can look at the performance and say we were sh*t, because we weren’t. To be honest and blunt, we weren’t, we played well. Karen, don’t worry about that!”
Injuries/suspensions (estimated return)
- Matteo Darmian – knock (back in training)
- Romelu Lukaku – foot (unknown)
- Alexis Sánchez – knee ligaments (five weeks)
- Antonio Valencia – calf (two weeks)
- Ashley Young – yellow card accumulation (next match)
(4-1-2-1-2) Romero; Dalot, Smalling, Lindelöf, Shaw; Matić; Fred, Pogba; Andreas; Rashford, Martial.
Quote from the boss
“We’ve given ourselves a great chance to finish in the top four or even third. And we’re in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup and Champions League. So, we’ve been a on a good run but now we start narrowing the focus and thinking about winning trophies.” – Ole Gunnar Solskjær
Next match: Watford [H] 30/3/19
Potential key battles
– Raúl Jiménez vs Chris Smalling
– João Moutinho vs Nemanja Matić
– Willy Boly vs Romelu Lukaku
Match facts [credit: FotMob]
- Wolves and United last met in the FA Cup in the fourth round in 2005-06, with the Red Devils winning 3-0 at Molineux
- United are looking to reach the competition’s emi-final in consecutive seasons for the first time since doing so in 2003-04 and 2004-05
- The Molineux men have not reached the semi-final of the FA Cup since 1997-98 when they beat Leeds United in that season’s quarter-final
- Raúl Jiménez became the first Wanderer to score 12 top-flight goals in seven years, equaling Steven Fletcher’s 2011/12 tally
Enjoy the match!