After falling to defeat at home to Arsenal on Saturday, Wolves’ attention now turns to their trip to Bramall Lane to face Sheffield United on Wednesday evening. With the teams above them in good form, anything less than a win would see Wolves’ chances of finishing in a Champions League place take a massive hit. The game will kick-off at 6pm live on Sky Sports.
Wolves’ unbeaten run came to an end on Saturday after a disappointing 2-0 loss to Arsenal. Nuno had tried something a bit different by starting Adama Traore upfront in a 3-5-2 instead of Diogo Jota, but this switch didn’t pay off and the overall team performance was quite sloppy.
In attack, both Raul Jimenez and Traore, who is usually a key asset for Wolves, were nullified. Being in a front two instead of a front three meant that Traore was having to come deeper to receive the ball and wasn’t able to make the runs into space that we usually see when he plays out wide. As for the defence, they weren’t the solid and organised unit we have seen in past performances. Willy Boly missed the chance at an interception in the lead up to the first goal and Conor Coady looked completely unaware for the second. Romain Saiss also struggled, putting in a lot of unnecessary, reckless tackles. Arsenal had clearly prepared well and Wolves never looked like they were comfortable in the game.
Aside from the fact that their first-half performances still need to improve, another area of weakness I noticed on Saturday was the attacking from set pieces. The team offered no real threat from corners or free-kicks and against a tough opponent like Sheffield United who are hard to break down, making the most of set-pieces could be crucial to success.
Sheffield United Form
Sheffield United had a bit of a rocky restart after a goal-line technology error denied them a goal against Aston Villa, they went on to lose their next two games against Newcastle and Manchester United. Their form, however, has improved in their last two league games with a comfortable 3-1 victory over Tottenham and a 1-1 draw against Burnley on Sunday.
In their last outing against Burnley, the Blades put on a solid performance and I think the most impressive part of their game was that the players never let their heads drop. Even though they didn’t have many clear cut chances when they did get the opportunity to score they were clinical and made sure to make it count.
For me, if he starts, Jack O’Connell is their man to watch. The centre-back has been one of their key players all season and now that he is back from injury he may well make a return to the starting line-up. In his 29 appearances this season he has helped the team to keep 10 clean sheets, as well as making 129 clearances and 66 headed clearances. Another thing to keep in mind is that the system that Sheffield United play allows their centre-backs to push up and help out in attack as well, which he has done on occasion this season by creating six big chances and grabbing one assist.
Sheffield United v Wolves Team News
After picking up a knock in the defeat to Arsenal, Pedro Neto is looking doubtful for this game. However, Daniel Podence has been given the green light from the Premier League to join the squad after twice testing negative for Covid-19 on his return from Portugal. He had been following government guidelines and self-isolating for 14 days after having to make the trip for personal reasons.
In terms of the line-up, I believe that Nuno may revert to a 3-4-3 with Jota coming back in. I’m predicting a starting XI of:
Patricio, Boly, Coady, Saiss, Doherty, Neves, Moutinho, Johnny, Traore, Jimenez, Jota.
With Jack O’Connell making his return from injury as a substitute in the Blades’ last match against Burnley, Chris Wilder will have to make the tough choice of whether to start him or Jack Robinson at centre-back. John Fleck, John Lundstram and Luke Freeman all still look like they will be unavailable for selection due to injury.
Sheffield United v Wolves Head to Head
Wolves have won three of their last five games against Sheffield United, with Sheffield United winning one and the other ending in a draw. Overall, there have been 114 meetings between the two sides. The Blades have won 39, Wolves have won 38 and there have been 37 draws.
In the reverse fixture at the Molineux earlier in the season, Wolves had to come from a goal down to grab a point. Lys Mousset opened the scoring after just two minutes when he was left unmarked in the box and fired the ball low past Patricio. It wasn’t until the 64th minute that Wolves were able to find the equaliser, with Doherty heading home Jimenez’ cross.
Sheffield United v Wolves Prediction
I think that Wolves will need to be at the top of their game on Wednesday as Sheffield United are a tough team to break down. The way that they play with centre-backs who are able to help out in their attacking manoeuvres makes them a big threat so the defence will need to be more alert than they were against Arsenal. I think starting with a 3-4-3 would allow Traore and Jota to not only pounce on the counter-attack when Sheffield United commit more bodies forward, but it would allow them to help out more defensively too if needed. Nuno praised Sheffield United in his pre-match press conference, as reported by Wolves, saying:
“The dynamics of the team, the beliefs of the squad, the way they interact with each other, the knowledge they have of each other. I really admire and respect them a lot, not only Chris but his staff. They are really, really nice people, so my assessment of them is fantastic.”
I think that the teams will be evenly matched on the day so I’m predicting a 1-1 draw.