Wolves return to Premier League action as they face a tricky test away to Leicester City. The side come into the season shrouded in uncertainty and being seen as very much unknow quantities.
The appointment of Bruno Lage has given Wolves a new direction to go in and seemingly gives them the chance to hit the refresh button. Pre-season has certainly been a big of mixed results and performances, but with some key differences in playing style (a much higher defensive line and more aggressive pressing).
Signings have been few and far between, with sell to buy being the message. Leicester City have seen injury difficulties force their hand in the window, with the recent signing of Jannick Vestergaard covering the hole left by Wesley Fofana, who could be out for the season with a broken fibula. Ryan Bertrand also signed on a free deal to add more competition to the Left Back spot. They have also added extra steel in midfield with the incoming Boubakary Soumare – who signs off the back of a few excellent seasons with Lille.
The signing of Patson Daka has been an encouraging lift for Brendan Rodgers, as Leicester have more depth in attack. Wolves have boosted their wide options with the loan signing of Francisco Trincao and added extra depth in central defence with young prospect Yerson Mosquera joining – although a hamstring injury has him missing the first few games.
Rayan Ait-Nouri has joined permanently, and Jose Sa was brought in to replace Rui Patricio.
Both sides come into the game with problems at centre back, the aforementioned Fofana and Mosquera are both sidelined, but Wolves are also missing Willy Boly who has again fallen victim to another short-term injury.
Jonny, Pedro Neto and Daniel Podence are also still out for Wolves, with the first two still in recovery for another few months. With the limited attacking and defensive options, we could see Wolves start with a more conservative approach when thinking of the Dangers of Jamie Vardy, Kelechi Iheanacho and Daka.
Match/ Line-up Predictions
Leicester has always been a close game since Wolves were promoted back to the Premier League (aside from the 4-3 Wolves win at Molineux) so I think we can probably expect something similar here. Whilst much has been made about the lack of strength in Wolves’ defensive areas, they were certainly solid for the most part against Celta Vigo and I think the core ability of organisation could still resonate from the Nuno days.
The high pressing and fast pace of Wolves’ transition play in the second half at Molineux last week fills me with some hope that, if they produce the same energy, the side can catch Leicester off guard and fight out a 1-0 or 2-1 win. The reality is that I expect them to start slow but gradually build themselves into the match as they did under Nuno. I think with a boost of confidence Wolves can certainly get a result.
Ruben Neves and Laender Dendoncker looked solid against Celta Vigo so I think a change in management and playing style could suit them better as a pair. Although with defensive shortages we could see Dendoncker drop back into defence.
Score Prediction: 1-1
Predicted line-up (3-4-3): Sa, Semedo, Kilman, Coady, Saiss, Marcal, Neves, Dendoncker, Trincao, Traore, Jimenez