Manchester United vs Wolves: Ronaldo the difference maker in low scoring affair

Manchester United's busy festive period continues with the visit of a well-rested Wolves side. In a new year, Ben Steele expects a familiar face to be vital...

Rejuvinated Wolves ensure low scoring game

While the majority of the Premier League spent the Christmas period coping with fixture congestion and player fatigue Wolves were unable to play either of their matches.

Fixtures against Leeds and Arsenal were postponed due to a Covid outbreak within the squad, but with a number of players returning to training Bruno Lage and his coaching staff will be looking to continue their impressive season.

At the midway point, Lage's side sit 8th in the table and, after establishing themselves as an elite defensive unit, will be looking to add goals to their game as they push towards the European places.

A settled back four of Max Kilman, Nelson Semedo, Conor Coady and Romain Saiss, with Jose Sa between the sticks, and the likes of Ruben Neves and Joao Moutinho sitting deep in midfield has Wolves as the second best defence in the Premier League.

But, while table toppers Manchester City are the only team to concede fewer than the midlanders, only 20th placed Norwich have scored fewer.

When Manchester United traveled to Molineux earlier in the season it took a later Mason Greenwood strike to settle the game and we could well be in for more of the same on Monday evening.

Wolves have lost four of their five games against the traditional top six 1-0 already this season and with the last three games between these two sides being decided by the single goal, a 1-0 Manchester United win is well priced @ 6.0.

New Year, same old Cristiano

As he approaches his 37th birthday Cristiano Ronaldo is growing used to questions about his ability to sustain his record breaking abilities.

There is an argument that the Portuguese forward's return to Old Trafford hasn't quite lived up to expectations and while there are questions about his all around game the goals are, undeniably, still there. Since his blockbuster summer move, Ronaldo has played 20 games, scoring 14 and his presence on the field is a constant worry to opposition defences.

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Much has been made of Ralf Rangnick's belief in playing a high tempo, pressing game. A way of playing that doesn't necessarily fit Ronaldo's style, but it looks like the German manager has found a way round that particular problem.

Rangnick has relied on either Edison Cavani or Marcus Rashford to do Ronaldo's running for him and that ploy certainly worked last time out, with the Portuguese putting in a man of the match display against Burnley.

In a game that is likely to have few chances, with Wolves sitting deep and United likely to employ a similar setup to the Burnley game, you have to expect the veteran marksman to make an impact priced at 3.5 to score first, Ronaldo is well worth a look.

Midfield battle should see cards

Ronaldo, of course, won't be the only Portuguese star on show on Monday night. With crucial World Cup qualifying matches on the horizon in late March, national team manager Fernando Santos will be keeping an eye on the head to head between Bruno Fernandes and Ruben Neves, which could be a fiery one.

Neves, along with Brighton's Yves Bissouma is the most booked player in the Premier League this season, with six cautions, while Fernandes was suspended for United's 3-1 win over Burnley after picking up his fifth booking.

After a busy Christmas period I'd expect a fully rested Fernandes to be straight back into the starting lineup. United's number 10 will have his usual creative duties but is also likely to be tasked with shutting down Wolves best creator. Bruno Lage will, undoubtedly, be asking Neves to play a similar role for his side.

A Bet Builder of both Neves and Fernandes to be carded is well worth a look @ 16.0

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