After a comfortable 2-0 win over West Ham on Saturday, Wolves will now turn their attention to their game against Bournemouth on Wednesday evening. This will be their first match back at the Molineux since the break and will be available to watch live on BT Sport.
Despite there being no crowd in attendance, banners designed by Lobos Wolves will form a wrap around the lower tiers of the stands, there will be a fan mosaic displayed in the South Bank, and fan flags will be hung around the stadium. This will all help to give the Molineux a better look and feel on matchday.
Wolves’ win on Saturday extends their unbeaten run to six league games (W3, D3). It was a convincing performance rounded off with two great goals. The big question before the game was whether Nuno would set up in a 3-5-2 or a 3-4-3. He went for the 3-5-2 to start, with Wolves putting on a solid defensive display, then switching to the 3-4-3 on the 64th minute after West Ham were worn down, bringing Adama Traore and Pedro Neto on for Leander Dendoncker and Diogo Jota.
As I mentioned in my last preview, Wolves look much more threatening with three up front and the game was won when we had the pace in attack to break down the West Ham defence. I think that going into the game against Bournemouth, who are even more defensively set-up than West Ham, we will definitely need the pace in attack to win. Bournemouth are another team struggling for points in the relegation zone and they have been criticised this season for being too soft, meaning their defence could be easily exploitable with strong attackers in place.
With Wolves now up to sixth in the table and fighting for a place in Europe again, games against teams at the bottom of the table are must-wins. Luckily, this season Wolves’ form against the bottom-placed teams has been much better than last season.
Bournemouth are currently sat in 18th place in the table on 27 points and their defeat to Crystal Palace at the weekend means that they have only won once in their last five league games (W1, D1, L3). It is also worth noting that they have lost an unrivalled 24 Premier League away games since the start of last season, including each of the last six, so it doesn’t bode well for them ahead of their trip to the Molineux.
They seem so far away from the free-scoring team they once were under Eddie Howe, not only struggling to find goals but also conceding a lot of goals too. The Cherries have equalled the club Premier League record of 13 consecutive fixtures without a clean sheet, set from March to August 2016. This looks good for Wolves, especially with the likes of Traore and Neto available to threaten the Cherries’ defence.
Against Crystal Palace, Bournemouth looked out of ideas and simply too soft. Considering that Crystal Palace are a team who haven’t scored a great number of goals this season, it seemed almost too easy for them to score against the Cherries.
In terms of key players, I think that Callum Wilson is the main man to look out for from Bournemouth. In his 29 appearances this season he has scored eight goals, making him their top scorer. This says a lot about their form in front of goal. If he gets the right service from the rest of the team he could be a threat, however, he has missed nine big chances so far this season and only has a 41% shooting accuracy. He is hard-working but seems to be out on luck at the moment, so I think as long as our defenders track his runs we shouldn’t have too much of a problem.
Wolves have no injury concerns meaning the full squad is fit and available for selection on Wednesday. There will be some headaches for Nuno over who to choose in the starting XI and I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw both Traore and Neto get starts, after their stellar performances at the weekend. However, I have a feeling that Nuno will stick with the same starting XI as Saturday and then change up the formation around 60 minutes again, so I’m predicting a starting XI of:
Patricio, Boly, Coady, Saiss, Doherty, Dendoncker, Neves, Moutinho, Johnny, Jimenez, Jota.
The main injury concern for Bournemouth will be striker Josh King after he hobbled off the pitch with an ankle injury against Crystal Palace.
Head to Head
Wolves and Bournemouth have only faced each other 14 times overall, with Bournemouth winning six of those games, Wolves winning five and the other three ending in draws. However, since gaining promotion to the Premier League, Wolves are unbeaten against the Cherries (W2, D1).
The last time the two sides faced each other was at the Vitality Stadium back in November where Wolves ran out 2-1 winners. The match was certainly eventful, with both of Wolves’ goals coming in the first half through the magic of Moutinho, before Simon Francis was sent off for a second bookable offence. In the second-half Jota had a goal ruled out for offside and Bournemouth scored through a deflected Steve Cook header. Although the Cherries fought hard to find an equaliser, the Wolves defence remained strong and held on for the win.
I see the game playing out very much like the game against West Ham. Bournemouth are on the same number of points as the Hammers and they are really struggling at the moment both creatively and defensively. I think if they are to get anything from this game it’ll be through Callum Wilson, so the Wolves defence will need to keep an eye on him. I think the game, like last time, could well be won on the pace in attack, with Wolves needing to really exploit Bournemouth’s defensive weaknesses.
I’m predicting another convincing 2-0 win for Wolves. After the solid all-round performance the team put in on Saturday I don’t see us dropping points.