Manchester United have faced Wolves five times since the Black Country club returned to the top-flight last season and they are still to taste victory against Nuno Espirito Santo’s side, scoring a meagre three goals in five games.
The most notable of these fixtures came last March, when Wolves beat Man Utd 2-1 in the FA Cup quarter final.
United came into that fixture in superb form. The Red Devils had won 10 and drawn two of their previous twelve games. However, the newly-promoted side mitigated their considerable attacking threat, limiting them to just two shots on target.
It was a familiar story at Molineux last week, with the visitors failing to have a shot on target in a domestic game for the first time since January 2015.
Wolves’ disciplined unit of five defenders and two holding midfielders has proven difficult to break down, but few have found the task quite as arduous as the 12-time FA Cup winners.
Frank Lampard provided the blueprint to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, when his Chelsea side thrashed Wolves 5-2 in September, proving it is possible to breach Santo’s spirited defensive structure.
But Solskjaer’s insistence on a lone striker policy in previous meetings made it difficult to create clear-cut chances when Wolves dropped back into their defensive shape.
What is more concerning for United is that in each of the last five meetings, their opponents have always looked the more likely to win.
Each fixture has followed a similar pattern. The Red Devils start quickly, but soon look devoid of ideas as Wolves grow into the game and dominate the latter stages.
It remains to be seen if Solskjaer will adapt his tactics on Wednesday night, but with the recent emergence of Mason Greenwood, it is likely that he will turn to the 18-year-old at Old Trafford.
The visitors will be hoping that Premier League player of the Month nominee for December, Adama Traore, will re-create some of the magic he has produced in recent weeks.
Traore has registered more ‘take-ons’ than anyone else in the Europe’s top five leagues this season, completing 75.3% of his attempted dribbles.
He has been giving full backs sleepless nights and it seems that the only way to stop the winger is to foul him. In Traore’s first 27 appearances this season he has drawn an astonishing 25 yellow cards.
Newcastle full-back Jetro Willems said the winger is “a tougher opponent than Cristiano Ronaldo.”
“He’s known as the fastest man in football and now I know that is true,” he added.
The only effective tactic to stop Traore has been to double or even sometimes triple up on the fleet-footed Spaniard, which allows full-back Matt Doherty more freedom to overlap.
If Wolves are to progress to the fourth round, it’s likely that Traore’s counter attacking ability and blistering pace will prove pivotal.
Despite their lofty league position of seventh and their equally impressive European travails, Wolves appear to have reached something of a mid-season slump.
So Wednesday's FA Cup replay suddenly has even more significance.
Santo's charges have failed to win any of their last four games in all competitions. Perhaps their demanding schedule and relatively small squad is catching up with them, having played more games and used less players than anyone else in the Premier League this season.
The West-Midlanders’ cause hasn’t been helped by star winger Diogo Jota’s injury. He has been a big miss despite the clear competence of 19-year-old deputy Pedro Neto, who has come into replace the former Atletico Madrid man. Jota’s absence has left Wolves short of attacking options, which was highlighted in their 1-1 draw against the Magpies last weekend.
The head coach was unable to make a change to influence the result, with the only attacking option on the bench the inexperienced Benny Ashley-Seal.
The former Porto boss lamented the lack of attacking options at his disposal after the game and insisted it was "obvious" they needed January reinforcements.
For Wolves, victory in Wednesday’s third-round replay could jolt them out of their slump and be a turning point in their season ahead of a pivotal run of fixtures at home and on the continent.
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