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Playing Second fiddle
Manchester United will have to be content with finishing second in the 2020-21 Premier League as they close out the campaign with a visit to Wolves on Sunday.
The Red Devils are guaranteed to finish second, their best finish to a campaign since 2017-18 when they were second to Manchester City.
Wolves don’t have a lot to play for, but they will want to win for personal reasons on Sunday.
That’s because it will be the final match for their manager Nuno, who is leaving after four years with the club.
With second place already secure, the top priority you would think for this match for United will be to come out healthy.
The Europa League final is just around the corner, and the last thing Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wants is to have to deal with more injuries.
So expect the Norwegian makes sweeping changes to the side on Sunday.
United captain Harry Maguire has an ankle injury that will keep him out of this match.
Striker Anthony Martial remains out with a knee injury.
Scott McTominay and Fred are 100% fit along with Daniel James.
Wolves star striker Raul Jimenez will miss the final match of the season with a skull fracture.
Daniel Podence had groin surgery last week.
He probably won’t play on Sunday but should be ready to go when the new campaign kicks off.
Pedro Neto and Jonny are out with knee injuries.
Man United can join some exclusive company by avoiding defeat on the road on Sunday.
The Reds have a chance to go undefeated away from home this season in the Premier League.
They would become only the fourth side in the top-flight of English football to achieve that feat.
The other sides to do so were Preston (1888-89), Arsenal (2001-02) and Arsenal against in 2003-04.
Ending with a bang
Man United’s Premier League title drought will continue into next season, but they will take some solace in knowing they have usually finished a season strong.
The Reds have lost in just one of their last 13 EPL finale’s.
Conversely, Wolves have lost their final game in the Premier League over their past three campaigns.
Before that, they had won four consecutive EPL finale’s from 2013-14 to 2016-17.
Making the least of their opportunities
Without the presence of a pure goalscorer like Raul Jimenez, Wolves have struggled to convert their scoring opportunities.
Nuno’s men have netted 35 times this season on 449 shots, that’s a conversion rate of 7.8%.
The only sides with a worse conversion rate in the 2020-21 English top flight are Sheffield United (6.1%) and Fulham (6.3%).
Before his frightening head collision with Arsenal’s David Luiz, the presence of Jimenez was clear to this team.
When he was in the lineup, Wolves had won 50% of their EPL matches up until the end of November 2020.
Bruno Fernandes is closing out an incredible first full season with Manchester United with many substantial numbers.
The Portuguese talisman has 18 goals to go along with 12 assists so far in this EPL campaign.
He is the fifth player in club history to record 30 goal involvements in a single Premier League season.
The only other players to have 30+ goal involvements in a Reds season were Eric Cantona in 1993-94 (30), Cristiano Ronaldo in 2007-08 (37), Wayne Rooney in 2011-12 (31) and Robin Van Persie in 2012-13 (35).
Marcus Rashford is on the verge of another milestone in his young professional career.
His next goal will be the 100th of his senior career.
He has scored 88 for the Reds and another 11 for England.
Wolves could be the ideal opponent for the 23-year-old.
Rashford has two goals in his last three starts against them.
Despite another season without a Premier League crown, United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says he believes this team is headed in the right direction.
“Of course, we’re not where we aim to be. We’ve got ambitions to move one place further up, of course. It’s been steady improvement, we’ve improved steadily, surely, third last season, second this season, some more points, done really well away from home, of course. We know we had a difficult start with the lack of pre-season, and we lost three out of the first six games and loads of them were home games which put pressure on the team. But they’ve managed really well, the players have been very, very good.”
Sunday’s match from Molineux Stadium gets underway at 4 pm. (JSL).