Can Chelsea win provide new momentum for Wolves?
Background image: Badgernet, CC BY-SA 4.0
After an unprecedented run to win the Championship title last season, Wolves became an impressive side to watch in the Premier League this term. Manager Nuno Espirito Santo built a side that is not only solid at the back but effective going forward.
However, the Wanderers began their top-flight campaign on a rather shaky note, failing to win any from their first three matches, although the 1-1 draw against Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City in the third game acted boosted morale. It also kicked off a six-game unbeaten run.
Wolves are moodier than an expectant mother in her third trimester, however. The unbeaten stretch side was followed by five losses in their next six. Naturally, they snapped out of that by beating top-four club, Chelsea. Is it the beginning of another unbeaten run or the first step to a consistently productive campaign?
Having dropped down the table during the bad period, the busy holiday fixtures represent an opportunity to climb back up. Picking up three points against Chelsea surprised everyone and their aunt but a look at previous results against top six sides reveals a squad capable of going toe-to-toe with the very best.
Games against Everton, Man City, Man United, Tottenham, Arsenal and Chelsea have resulted in only one loss. That's remarkable considering Wolves’ transfer outlay is significantly less than any of the top six [save Spurs] despite sustained investments by the Fosun International Group in recent times.
Wolves next six games will be particularly important, beginning with today's date in Newcastle at St. James Park, Rafael Benitez is also trying to consolidate Toon's recent spate of results. It'll be stiff competition for the three points on offer.
Tonight the real Wolverhampton Wanderers stood up.
At 1-0 down, #Wolves stood strong, stuck to the plan, kept themselves in the game & pounced when the opportunities arose.
Put that in your Nuno and pipe and smoke it.
Next on the calendar will be home games against high-flying Bournemouth and Liverpool. Given their previous success against top sides, Wolves will rightly expect to come away with some points from the two fixtures.
Travelling to London to face Fulham and Tottenham will be tricky.
Mauricio Pochettino's team is the odd one out, winning at Molineux where other top-six invaders failed. Beating Wolves at Wembley is a less daunting prospect.
Fulham may have left a banana peel on the stoop at Craven Cottage. Claudio Ranieri is on a mission to raise Fulham from the dead, their pasting at Manchester United's hands notwithstanding. A loss wouldn't be too surprising.
Wolves round up the festive period by welcoming Crystal Palace to their fortress the day after New Years. Roy Hodgson's men have been inconsistent themselves this season. This one could come down to who wants it less.
All things being equal, Wolves can return to the top ten by the mid-January. They have the ability to remain there for the duration.
Espirito Santo has been accused of assembling Portugal FC in England. that's alright when you remember which nation is the defending European champion.
There's quality in his side beyond that usually available in a newly promoted team. From Joao Moutinho to midfield revelation Ruben Neves to first-choice Selecao keeper Rui Patricio and more, top Portuguese talents inhabits the Midlands. They left clubs like Monaco and Sporting Lisbon who compete in the Champions and Europa Leagues to come. It wasn't for the scenery.
The manager must have a huge ambition to have convinced them to commit to the club. Watching them play, especially against top sides, they look very much like a team made for the big leagues.