Hey Dave: What’s gone wrong at Wolves?

Wolverhampton Wanderers’ Conor Coady, left and Wolverhampton Wanderers’ Leander Dendoncker reacts during the English Premier League match between Wolves and Leicester City at the Molineux Stadium in Wolverhampton, England Sunday, Feb. 7, 2021. (Carl Recine/Pool via AP)

If there’s any team in the Premier League who has heavily underperformed this season, in my opinion, it has to be Wolverhampton Wanderers. A club that has been in the top flight for nearly three seasons, Wolves currently sits toward the bottom of the Premier League table at 14th. It’s honestly disappointing given how well they’ve managed to hover around the top six since being promoted from the Championship. 

It’s also kind of interesting to see how such a well-rounded club managed to be in its worst form ever in the Premier League. Within its last 10 matches, Wolves have only managed to get a single win, while it ended four games in a draw and the remaining five in defeats. Not good for Nuno Espírito Santo’s men. It certainly does make you wonder where things have gone wrong for the West Midland team. 

One factor that has taken a toll on teams who haven’t had the greatest of seasons like Liverpool are its injuries. While Wolves has a few players out with injuries, two have proven to be crucial to Nuno’s squad. The firs and more notable, player on their list is forward Raúl Jiménez, who suffered a fractured skull after colliding with Arsenal’s David Luiz in their first meet up with the Gunners on Nov. 29. Jiménez, who still leads the team in goals (4) this season, proved to be an important player in Nuno’s Wolves as he started in all but one fixture last season: scoring 17 goals and six assists. In his promotional season, the forward put up a similar statistic: he started in all but two Premier League matches and scored 13 goals with seven assists. 

Given how serious his injury was, I highly doubt Raúl Jiménez will return to the squad with ease. Even though Nuno will be able to utilize players like Adama Traoré or Pedro Neto in the attacking line, Wolves won’t be as effective as they were when Jiménez was on the pitch; and it has clearly shown since his injury. Since the Mexican forward’s injury, Wolves has appeared to completely lack in confidence and struggle to finish clinical chances. It also doesn’t help that they try to utilize record-signing Fabio Silva who, at 18 years old, is still trying to find his form in the top flight.  

This leads me to the next person on Wolves’ injury list, Daniel Podence, who recently picked up an injury on Feb. 8 with an unconfirmed date to return at the time of writing. Unlike Raúl Jiménez, Podence played in 18 games before his injury and was able to add three goals and two assists in his account. He was partially involved on the ball when he played, averaging 48 passes a game (79% pass accuracy) while winning half of his tackles and intercepting the ball 11 times. I personally don’t believe Podence’s injury will greatly effect Wolves’ form as much as Raúl Jiménez’s, but what has caused the West Midland side to greatly underperform is its defense. 

It’s honestly quite surprising how many of the teams that should be performing well aren’t living up to those expectations. Their performance comes down to their defense. In Wolves’ case, Willy Boly, Rayan Aït Nouri and Fernando Marçal are the few defenders who have suffered some form of injury. But thankfully, they still have the likes of Nelson Semedo and Jonny in the back line Still, they can only do so much to prevent open plays from being finished. 

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