Wolves’ last home game of the season is against Crystal Palace on Monday evening, and it’s a game they must win if they want to stay in the race for European football. The match will kick-off at 8:15pm and will be available to watch live on BT Sport.
Nuno decided to rotate the squad again for the game against Burnley and went for a really attacking line-up bringing in Ruben Vinagre, Adama Traore, Joao Moutinho and Diogo Jota in place of Jonny Otto, Matt Doherty, Leander Dendoncker and Pedro Neto.
Wolves started the game well, attacking and putting the pressure on Burnley from the get-go. While this was encouraging to see and their first-half performances have definitely been stronger recently, I think there is still room for improvement. Especially when it comes to scoring first-half goals. Of the 49 goals, Wolves have scored this season, only 13 of them have come in the first half of games and since the restart, the only first-half goal they have scored was against Everton.
Despite starting strong against Burnley, Wolves didn’t take the lead until Raul Jimenez fired home in the 76th minute. They then reverted to a 3-5-2 formation to see out the game but this meant that the attacking threat was lost and they were then under pressure to defend their lead. Burnley put the pressure on and eventually equalised through a Chris Wood penalty in injury time.
This is the second time in three games that Wolves have conceded in injury time to lose points which is certainly frustrating. At times the team have looked a little complacent but they can’t afford to be complacent if they want to be playing European football again next season. Against Crystal Palace, Nuno’s men need to focus on keeping their concentration and composure until the final whistle. This is a must win game so the defence needs to be solid like we saw in the first three games of the restart.
Crystal Palace Form
Their last game was at home to Manchester United on Thursday evening where they suffered a 2-0 defeat. Despite the scoreline, the Eagles played really well and will probably feel hard done by after a couple of decisions went against them. First, they were denied a penalty when Victor Lindelof got tangled with Wilfried Zaha in the box and then Jordan Ayew’s goal was ruled out by VAR for a very marginal offside. They really made their opponents work hard but, in the end, it was United’s quality that made the difference.
I’d say their most dangerous players are Zaha and Ayew up front. They are Palace’s top two scorers this season with 13 goals and four assists between them, and the two of them caused United problems on Thursday.
Wolves v Crystal Palace Team News
Wolves should have a fully-fit squad for Monday’s game which will give Nuno a lot to think about when picking his starting XI. The past couple of games we have seen him rotate the squad and try out some fresh approaches, but for such an important game I think we may see him go back to one of the more regular starting XI’s. I’m predicting a line-up of:
Patricio, Boly, Coady, Saiss, Doherty, Dendoncker, Neves, Jonny, Traore, Jimenez, Jota.
As for Palace, Patrick Van Aanholt will be unavailable after dislocating his shoulder against Manchester United. Gary Cahill and James Tomkins are also out due to injury, while Christian Benteke is out for the rest of the season following his red card against Aston Villa.
Wolves v Crystal Palace Head to Head
In the past seven meetings between the two sides, in both league and cup, Crystal Palace have only lost once (W4, D2). Looking at the overall record of meetings between the two sides, Wolves have won 26, Crystal Palace have won 21 and there have been 19 draws.
In the reverse fixture at Selhurst Park earlier in the season, a 96th minute goal from Diogo Jota salvaged a point for Wolves after an own goal from Leander Dendoncker just after half-time put the hosts ahead. Romain Saiss was sent off midway through the second-half after he picked up a second yellow card for a foul on Wilfried Zaha.
Wolves v Crystal Palace Prediction
After the disappointment of losing to Sheffield United, Wolves were able to bounce back and comfortably put Everton to bed. I’m hoping that they will be able to do the same against Crystal Palace on Monday. The draw to Burnley will not have been an easy one to take but I’m hoping they can use it to gear themselves up and perform better.
Nuno has spoken about the team’s ability to bounce back, as reported by Wolves, saying:
“I think we are improving, always trying to become better, knowing it’s been a difficult season – ups and downs. We’ve always been able to react to the not so good performances, bounce back and play good. It’s always the same, it’s been like this since three seasons ago, and I think it’s a long process of building and improving and we’re still on the way.
“What’s important is to compete well. This is what we want for the next one, to compete well, be organised, solid and play good football.”
It’s going to be another tough game for Wolves, with Palace playing typically defensive football, but if they can play with that same strength and quality that they showed against Everton, I don’t see why they won’t be able to the take all three points on Monday.