For the third time this season, Wolves entertain The Foxes of Leicester. On both of the earlier occasions, Leicester came out victorious.
At the King Power Stadium back in August, Wolves missed a number of glorious chances early in the game before Matt Doherty inadvertently put one in his own net. To make matters worse for Nuno’s side, James Maddison’s shot found its way beyond Rui Patricio after deflecting off Conor Coady. 2-0 down at the break and there was no way back after that despite the best efforts of the Molineux side.
A month later, in the Black Country, two much-changed sides faced one another in the Carabao Cup. if we’re honest, it wasn’t the best of games as a Danny Ward inspired Leicester ended up winning on penalties following the game finishing 0-0 after 90 minutes.
Since then, both sides have undoubtedly improved and claimed some scalps along the way. Leicester recently beat Chelsea and City, likewise, Wolves have seen off Spurs, Chelsea and Liverpool in the last few weeks. So, how will today’s game likely pan out? That’s what we’ll be looking at in this Premier League preview.
Success At Goodison
Claude Puel is always seemingly one result away from the boot and if his Leicester side fail to turn at Molineux, could it spell the end for him as Leicester’s head coach? Perhaps. However, that has been the case many a time before this campaign yet somehow, the Frenchman always finds a way to get a result.
All things considered, he’s got Leicester eighth in the table and if his side were to get three points in the West Midlands, it’ll put them five points clear of the home side.
Arguably the most comparable fixture of recent weeks is when Leicester travelled to Merseyside to face Marco Silva’s Everton. On the back of a home defeat to Cardiff, if Leicester had lost that one, Puel may well have been on his way.
They didn’t though. They dug in and got a win. Let’s find out just how.
Puel tends to always set up his side in the same way. Four at the back, five in the middle and Jamie Vardy up front. The 4-5-1/4-2-3-1 formation is usually easily interchangeable to a 4-3-3 when they’re attacking, but at times, Vardy can find himself rather isolated in the final third. Needless to say, he can still do damage when he’s on his own.
As is evidenced above, Everton had the lion’s share of the ball and chances, although it was Leicester who stole the three points. Leicester’s goal, Vardy (who else?) the scorer, came in the 58th minute of the game and was Leicester’s only significant piece of momentum until the last 15 minutes of the game when it opened up as Everton sought out an equaliser.
A lapse in concentration is all it took
Kasper Schmeichel attempted to ping a ball to Chilwell, but it didn’t make it that far. It seemed that Michael Keane had possession back for Everton and they could attempt to break once more. The ex-Burnley man didn’t cover himself in glory as his first touch found its way to Ricardo Pereira. See below.
So, the ball is making its way to Keane and as we’ve said, he messes the first touch up horrifically and the ball ends up with Ricardo who has got an insane amount of space.
Vardy and Zouma are circled for a reason. Jamie Vardy is banking on Keane making a mistake, on the other hand, Zouma thinks Keane has got this sussed and is much more laid back.
Considering Vardy’s starting position, it’ll be either Dendoncker or Saiss picking him up in this scenario and when you think that neither of them are centre-backs by trade, you do begin to ponder whether this will happen later today. Let us see how this plays out.
In hindsight, Everton’s back line is outrageously disjointed and while Wolves have their faults defensively, they tend to be relatively sound when it comes to shape. Vardy has now stolen a couple of yards on Zouma and is away.
Wolves need to ensure that they’re always alert as Vardy doesn’t need inviting twice to the party. He still has an awful lot to do, but he does it with aplomb.
No mistake from Vardy
Zouma’s initial lack of awareness can’t be illustrated better than the above last-ditch attempt to win the ball back from Vardy. This is rather important from a Wolves angle because none of the three players that play in central defence are blessed with pace, so if Vardy gets half a chance he’s going to motor away like there’s no tomorrow.
Ryan Bennett has conceded two penalties in his last two league games, it’d take a brave man to bet against there being a third.
Overall, from the above goal, what have we learnt? #1, keep Vardy in close quarters, #2, be switched on for Schmeichel’s dropkicks and #3, keep Vardy in close quarters!
No major concerns for Nuno when it comes to team selection for this game, with the only decision being who should replace the suspended Willy Boly as the left-sided central defender. On the face of it, the two options are either the left-footed Romain Saiss or the right-footed Leander Dendoncker. Both players featured at the World Cup for their respective countries so they’re no mugs, it’s just about who Nuno prefers.
Of course, the other question mark is surrounding the shape of the side. Will Nuno opt for Jimenez and Jota up front with Morgan Gibbs-White slightly in behind or will he revert to the ‘classic’ three up front with Jota and A Nother either side of the Mexican frontman? Interesting times await.
Claude Puel has got a full set of players to call from bar long-term absentee Daniel Amartey. The majority of the side no doubt picks itself, perhaps the only decision will be who partners Ndidi in central midfield. Mendy and Choudhury the contenders.
Wolves’ next three games in the league are against Leicester, West Ham and Everton. Three teams who are essentially in the same mini-league, all jostling for that elusive seventh-placed finish and the lure of Europa League football. If Fosun’s dreams of world domination (only slightly joking) are to be realised, then Wolves need to pick up a minimum of six points from the aforementioned trio of games.
In my opinion? A thumping. Wolves 6-0 Leicester. One can only dream…
Until the next time.
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