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Manchester Utd v Wolves
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Manchester United v Wolves preview: Tough first test for O’Neil with United set to start in style

The first Monday Night Football of the new Premier League season sees Manchester United host Wolves, who now have Gary O'Neil in charge following Julen Lopetegui's exit last week.

Losing a manager just days before the start of the season is never ideal and Lopetegui's departure after he became increasingly frustrated with his attempts to strengthen his squad over the summer means Wolves go to Old Trafford amid serious concerns over how the club will fare in the top flight this season.

Former Bournemouth boss O'Neil clearly has a tough job on his hands although he says he is ready to embrace the challenge after comfortably steering the Cherries to safety last season.

His first assignment is a particularly difficult one as Wolves take on a United side that finished third under Erik ten Hag last term and they have improved their squad over the summer with the big-money signings of Mason Mount, Andre Onana and Rasmus Hojlund.

WhatManchester United v Wolves
WhereOld Trafford, Manchester
When20:00, Monday 14th August 2023
How to watchSky Sports Main Event/Premier League
OddsManchester United 2/7, Draw 5/1, Wolves 9/1

United favourites to start with victory

The Red Devils are big favourites at 2/7 to get their Premier League campaign up and running with a home win and Ten Hag will have watched on as rivals Manchester City, Arsenal and Newcastle all kicked off with victories over the opening weekend.

United finished nine points adrift of the Gunners last season and 14 behind title-winners City, while they were just about able to keep improving Newcastle at bay beneath them, ending up with four points more than Eddie Howe's side.

However, with all three of those clubs strengthening significantly in the transfer window and also the likes of Liverpool, Chelsea and Tottenham to consider in what looks like being a very competitive race for the Champions League places this season, United know getting off to a good start will be vital.

Eye-catching summer incomings

Ten Hag has brought in goalkeeper Onana from Inter Milan for £42.7million to replace David De Gea, Mount will add creativity in the final third after joining for £55million from Chelsea, while 20-year-old Hojlund, signed for £72m from Atalanta, is hopefully the prolific striker United have been looking for after he caught the eye in Serie A.

Hojlund has a back injury, though, so his Premier League debut has been delayed but the hosts still have plenty of firepower with Marcus Rashford, who scored 30 goals in all competitions last season, Bruno Fernandes and Antony all expected to start.

Rashford is 10/3 to score first, 1/1 to notch anytime, while Fernandes, who scored 14 in all games in 2022-23, is available at 11/2 to score first and is 7/4 in the anytime market.

United have had a bit of a mixed pre-season in terms of results, beating Leeds, Arsenal, Lyon and Lens, while losing to Borussia Dortmund and Real Madrid, but they are expected to be too good for Wolves on Monday.

Tough job on for O’Neil

The visitors have spent much of the summer with Lopetegui in charge but rumours he was unhappy with the direction the club was going in grew louder as the new season approached and O'Neil has only had five days to try and get his message across to the players he inherited and prepare for the Old Trafford test.

The fact Matt Doherty, returning to the club after a spell at Atletico Madrid, is their only new signing reflects the clubs' precarious financial position and Wolves have lost influential stars like Ruven Neves, Nathan Collins, Joao Moutinho, Raul Jimenez and Adama Traore over the close season. 

Despite a difficult summer, there are some positives for Wolves fans to cling to. Up front, club-record signing Matheus Cunha, who should be fit for Monday despite not training fully last week, has looked sharp in the friendly games, while there are hopes Fabio Silva can make an impact in the Premier League this term following productive loans at Anderlecht and PSV Eindhoven.

Sasa Kalajdzic has recovered from injury and adds another dimension up front, while new captain Max Kilman, Rayan Ait-Nouri, Jonny, Pedro Neto and Hwang Hee-chan are all likely to be important players that O'Neil will hope to rely on in the early weeks of the campaign.

The new boss knows he must try and get more out of Wolves in an attacking sense as they were the lowest scorers in the top flight last season with just 31 goals but he is likely to set his side up with a defensive game plan on Monday as they aim to try and stop United first before offering a threat on the counter-attack.

However, anything other than a home win would be a major surprise, all things considered, with a United victory to nil appealing at 11/10.

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