Wolves are back in Premier League action as they host Everton on Tuesday night at Molineux following Friday’s victory over Crystal Palace in the FA Cup. Wolves go into the game after an inconsistent run of form while Everton have won four of their last five league games. The game will be behind closed doors and broadcast live on Sky Sports with a 20:15 kick-off.
Wolves’ victory over Crystal Palace on Friday evening was welcome on a number of fronts. Not only did It end a run of six games without a win, but it also saw Wolves keep a clean sheet for the first time since late October, also against Crystal Palace. Despite not playing particularly well in recent games, Wolves could easily have entered the new year with a far better points tally having thrown away points against Aston Villa, Man Utd and Brighton. The draw at Brighton, in particular, will be a game Wolves will look back it with huge frustration having gone in at the break with a 3-1 lead. Seeing the game out in the final stages against Crystal Palace should provide a good confidence boost for the team when it comes to defending in the latter stages of games, although Palace offered very little going forward.
Everton had been in fine league form prior to their 1-0 defeat at home to West Ham in their last league outing. Since then, they have also progressed to the fourth round of the FA Cup, but needed extra time to get past struggling Championship side Rotherham United at Goodison Park. Recent wins over Chelsea, Leicester and Arsenal have propelled Everton back into the race for a Champions League spot with the Toffees currently level on points with fourth-placed Tottenham.
Wolves welcomed Leander Dendoncker back into the Starting XI for the game against Crystal Palace and his presence in the midfield had been sorely missed. Jonny Otto is now back in light training and looks set for a February return date, while it remains unclear when Wily Boly and Fernando Marcal will be available for selection again. Daniel Podence’s knock picked up against Manchester United will also keep him out for the coming weeks. Both Patrick Cutrone and Morgan Gibbs-White are available for selection and are likely to start among the substitutes as they gain match fitness and become accustomed to the way in which Wolves now play. Wolves are likely to stick with the back four formation and field the same eleven that eased past Crystal Palace in the FA Cup. However, with three games in a week and the small matter of a Black Country Derby on Saturday, it is possible that Nuno will rotate the squad with the likes of Hoever, Kilman and Otasowie first in line for a starting place.
Likely Line Up: Patricio, Semedo, Coady, Saiss, Ait-Nouri, Neves, Moutinho, Dendoncker, Traore, Neto, Silva (Subs: Ruddy, Hoever, Kilman, Otasowie, Perry, Gibbs-White, Cutrone, Corbeanu, Vitinha)
Unlike Wolves, Everton are without any severe injury problems and can welcome back both Lucas Digne and James Rodriguez into the squad after recent absences. Midfielder Allan is the only significant injury they have ahead of the game at Molineux. Everton have tended to adopt a 4-3-3- formation under Carlo Ancelotti this season, with in-form goalscorer Dominic Calvert-Lewin leading the line, supported by two attacking midfielders behind him.
Historically, Everton have had the better of Wolves, coming out on top 61 times in the 134 competitive games between two of English football’s oldest sides. Wolves have won 46 times against the Toffees and have had the upper hand since promotion, winning two of the four encounters, losing just once, with the most recent game coming during the summer restart period as Wolves thrashed a poor Everton side 3-0 at Molineux in a game they could easily have won by more. It was a rare example of Wolves’ showcasing their real attacking threat for the duration of 90 minutes, but Everton are a completely different outfit this season following an extremely successful summer transfer window.
This game certainly goes into an unpredictable category. If both teams turn up at their best, it could be an intriguing encounter and both sides will look at the game believing they can take all three points. Everton started the season scoring a flurry of goals in what was an unbeaten start, but the goals have since dried up somewhat despite their continued good form, with Ancelotti’s side winning by more narrow margins in lower-scoring games. This, of course, is something Wolves are used to, with the exception of the draw at Brighton, It is incredibly rare that Wolves are involved in a game where there are more than three goals. The midfield battle will be hugely important in deciding the outcome of the game where Everton are without Allan and Wolves are aided by the return of Dendoncker. With Wolves likely to play with a back four, the midfield three must fulfil their defensive duties in order to stop the dangerous Everton midfielders who support Calvert-Lewin upfront. Despite this, Wolves’ lack of goalscoring is likely to hinder their chance of winning and the game could well end honours even.
Prediction: Wolves 1-1 Everton