This £13m star is Wolves’ best bet to combat Luke Shaw and defeat Manchester United


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Helder Costa holds the key to Wolves’ success against Manchester United

Since securing promotion to the Premier League, Wolverhampton Wanderers have played some impressive football against the top teams. Under the charismatic stewardship of manager Nuno Espirito Santos, Wolves played the most attractive brand of football in England’s second tier last season and won the Championship comprehensively. To sum it up, they looked head and shoulders above their opponents.

And they have taken their good form into the Premier League as well. Wolves were winless for the first three games but showed plenty of character and resilience to hold Manchester City and Everton to draws. Given that City and Everton have played some of the best football in the ongoing season, Wolves exceeded all expectations as they managed to get points out of those games.

Those resolute and hard-fought draws were followed by back-to-back victories over West Ham and Burnley. Santos’ men grabbed a last-gasp victory with an injury-time winner against the Hammers and completely dominated Burnley in the next game. In other words, they have shown that they are not in the Premier League to merely make up the numbers; they mean business. 

However, Wolves will face another test of their credentials when they fight it out against Manchester United at Old Trafford on Saturday. Wolves should be in high spirits after winning back-to-back games but they will face a tough test against United, who have managed to breathe life into their campaign following two consecutive wins over Burnley and Watford.

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United ended Watford’s winning streak of four games with a 2-1 victory over the Hornets at Vicarage Road. Although the Red Devils picked all three points, they suffered a huge setback as Nemanja Matic received marching orders after the referee showed him a second yellow card.

Matic, along with Paul Pogba and Marouane Fellaini, has played a major role in the club’s resurrection. But this weekend, Jose Mourinho must experiment with his team dynamics to fill the void as Matic will be out for this one.

United looked defensively vulnerable in the first three games of the season but Mourinho did a good job by deploying Matic and Fellaini to plug the holes and shield the rearguard. However, with Matic out for this game, Wolves should use their attackers to wreak havoc through United’s porous backline.

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Wolves have linked up well in the attacking third and Raul Jimenez has done a good job at finishing the chances that have come his way. Helder Costa and Matt Doherty have combined impressively on the right while Diogo Jota and Jonathan Otto have provided some impetus down the left. Ruben Neves has been one of their standout performers, dominating the midfield and contributing to the creative play from the central areas of the park.

However, despite Matic’s absence, United have Pogba and Fellaini in the midfield, who could make it difficult for Neves to take control of proceedings. But the battle that might decide the game is the one between Luke Shaw and Costa.

Helder Costa, who joined Wolves for a fee of £13m, works hard and is a tireless runner down the right. Furthermore, he has combined well with Matt Doherty. Given that the bulk of Wolves’ attacks have come from the right, Shaw will have to be at the top of his game to halt Costa and Doherty.

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Both teams should be in high spirits after winning back-to-back games and Saturday’s tie at Old Trafford is set to present an intriguing battle.   

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