After Wolves’ promising finish to the 2018/19 campaign, there was a lot of pressure for the West Midlands side to take the league by storm once again.
Having made it to the qualifying stages of the Europa League by finishing seventh in their return to the top tier, many believed that Nuno Espírito Santo’s side would crumble with the added workload.
However, they’ve exceeded everyone’s expectations – with their latest victory coming against reigning champions Manchester City in a chaotic 3-2 comeback at the Molineux.
Let’s face it, life’s pretty good if you’re a Wolves fan – supporting a side who have quickly transformed themselves into one of the most feared teams in the Premier League.
Speaking of the league, it seems only appropriate that we start with the side’s impressive run in the 2019/20 season. Wolves got off to a shaky start, picking up three draws against Leicester City, Manchester United and Burnley in the opening weeks. Other disappointing results followed as they lost 3-2 to Everton, before being thrashed 5-2 by Chelsea in their own backyard.
It took a while for the West Midlands team to find their rhythm – but once they got in the swing of things, they became impossible to stop. They recorded their first win of the season against Watford in late September (a game between the last two winless sides in the league) before going to beat Manchester City 2-0 at the Etihad.
Wolves then picked up wins against the likes of Aston Villa, Bournemouth and West Ham, before narrowly missing out on a draw against Jose Mourinho’s Spurs earlier this month. As mentioned, their latest victory came in a 3-2 win against Manchester City at home, putting them fifth in the table.
Despite their impressive performances in the league, they haven’t managed to produce the same amount of talent within the Carabao Cup. Wolves merely made it into the round of 16, beating Reading 4-2 on penalties after a 1-1 draw.
Their next opponent was Aston Villa – and Wolves failed to deliver, losing 2-1 as Ahmed Elmohamady scored the winner, with both teams putting out their weaker sides.
Wolves will get another taste of cup action when they take on Manchester United in the third round of the FA Cup next month, with one of the more thrilling fixtures of the competition.
However, where Wolves lack in cup performance, they make up for in Europe.
No one really knew how the side were going to tackle the Europa League. Having been deprived of European football since the 1980s, their results thus far in the competition have been surprisingly good.
Back in August, Wolves won 5-3 on aggregate against Torino in the play-off round, progressing them to the group stage of the competition. They have since knocked up positive results against Braga, Beşiktaş and Slovan Bratislava including a 4-0 win against the Turkish side in the final group match of the competition. They qualified for the next stage as they finished Group K in second place, just one point behind Braga with a game against Espanyol in the round of 32 next on the cards.
Wolves have one of the finest squads in the league with the likes of Raúl Jiménez, Adama Traoré and Diogo Jota all progressing into top class players. However, despite having such an array of talented performers, it’s their resilience which marks the West Midlands side’s biggest strength.
When teams go 1-0 down, it is often hard for sides to find the drive and energy to force at least a point against their opponents. But ‘drive’ and ‘energy’ are the two words that describe this Wolves side perfectly – with their comebacks becoming one of the most talked about aspects of the season.
When the other team have netted first, Wolves have managed comebacks against the likes of Norwich City, Sheffield United, Arsenal, Southampton, Crystal Palace and more recently, Manchester City – picking up draws or wins against those sides.
Yet the fact that they have allowed their opponents to go ahead in the first place may present their greatest weakness. Wolves have had problems in defence this campaign, especially when it comes to defending attacks down the wings.
They have, however, conceded just one goal more than Manchester City. Yet, with the Citizens have a defensively poor season, this is an area they could work out in the upcoming months.
Areas to Address in January
Taking this into account, it makes sense that Wolves have been linked to the likes of Cedric Soares and Robin Kock for the upcoming transfer window – with Santo expressing his desire to strengthen the defence.
However, midfield is another area that Wolves are willing to address – with Frank Kessie, Dejan Kulusevski and Boubakary Soumare all being linked to the club.
It’s hard to name just one player out of this fantastic Wolves side – João Moutinho has become one of the most crucial men in midfield, Conor Coady has proven to be a great leader at the back and Adama Traoré – well, the size and speed of the man alone make him one of the most feared wingers in the Premier League.
However, due to his incredible stats this campaign, Raúl Jiménez has been their standout player of the season so far. The Mexican has the most goal contributions for his side, ranking up an impressive eight goals alongside six assists as Wolves continue their spectacular form.
It may be slightly optimistic to say Wolves could do even better in the league this season – but with the majority of the ‘top six’ performing so terribly, it might just be possible.
The added workload could see their form in the FA Cup dip slightly and their performances in the Europa League could see them go pretty far.
Premier League: 6th
FA Cup: Quarter-Finals
Europa League: Round of 16
Overall, not many can say a bad word about this Wolves side as they continue to exceed expectations across all competitions. Nuno, keep up the good work.