Wolves earned a nervy three points at Molineux against newly-promoted Fulham to get their much needed second win of the season. After a very sluggish first half, a Pedro Neto strike was enough for Nuno and company to secure the three points and their second win of the season. The inability to break down sides who sit behind the ball is becoming a very worrying trend under Nuno. Given the context of the opponent, performances like today will not be enough to improve on last season’s seventh-place finish in 2020/21.
The goalkeeper did all he was asked of today, saving two shots straight at him without giving up a rebound. Patricio earned his side their second clean sheet of the campaign. The Portuguese number one may be a bit frustrated after Wolves allowed far too much second-half pressure from a side that has scored in only one of their league games of the season.
Kilman was given a rare start this afternoon on the left side of Nuno’s back three. The 23-year-old had a few small mistakes early but was given cover in Saiss at LWB. Kilman looked comfortable on the ball with 59 passes completed leading the squad today. It was a decent performance and a clean sheet for him to build on whenever he gets his next appearance.
Saiss at LWB was not what I expected coming into this match, but with both the Ruben Vinagre and Ait-Nouri deals being finalized, the experienced Saiss was given the start. His defensive prowess was key as he and Kilman locked down the left side. Unsurprisingly, the Moroccan international offered very little creativity going forward. Wolves were caught out twice by Fulham counter-attacks off of corners with Saiss staying upfield but got away with it due to the lack of quality from the opponents.
The captain played his organization role well today. His commands, often directed at the youthful Kilman, echoed around the empty Molineux. He came up big in the second half with a headed deflection of a Fulham cross that looked as though it was headed straight to Fulham’s number nine Mitrovic for a tap-in to make it 1-1. Coady also completed several successful long balls which should have led to better chances if Wolves attack was in better form.
After giving up an early chance inside five minutes which resulted in one of two saves from Rui, Boly was solid. Still not back to the Boly we know but a definite improvement was needed from the RCB and he delivered. He was caught out of position a few times but backed it up with several important clearances late on.
Semedo’s quality was on display going forward, receiving several long balls high up the pitch with a beautiful touch. He had the best chance of the first half in a position we have seen the right back in Nuno’s system countless times. He followed in a rebound, forcing an unbelievable double save from Fulham keeper Areola. He continues to prove to be a fantastic signing showing the potential he has going forward. He did frustratingly come off with a knock late in the game. Hopefully with the international break upon us, it won’t be enough to keep him out of the lineup at Leeds in two weeks time.
Neves was again given his usual role of sitting deep to help out the back three in possession. His partnership with the adventurous Dendoncker continues to be a successful one defensively. The Portuguese midfielder added several quality balls deep down the wing to Neto, which looks like it will continue to be an important relationship in Wolves’ system this season. I would like to see Nuno push him forward more against sides we should be comfortable defensively against.
The Belgian continues to impress in the midfield two with Neves. He often made his signature runs deep into the box and was key in Wolves lone goal. He seems to be in the right position more often than not for second balls and did the same in the 56th minute, getting his head on a cross and then forcing a big block on a shot on goal. The ball then fell perfectly to Neto, who slotted it in the bottom corner to the left of Areola.
Neto was the best attacking option going forward and showed off his ability to get to the byline on the left side and deliver quality balls into the box. His goal was a beauty, as most Pedro Neto goals seem to be. His left-footed strike from just inside the box was a stinger, leaving the keeper helpless as it hit the back of the net. He was the most creative player on the pitch and I believe he will continue to be huge for Wolves the rest of the year.
The Mexican Sensation was yet again far from sensational, delivering his second frustrating and lethargic performance in a row. He tricks and flicks just did not fall to the feet of someone in gold this afternoon. Raul had one of the better chances of the game for Wolves but wasted a one on one with the keeper after Fulham gifted the ball to our number nine. He was not able to put it wide of the keeper, making it easy for Areola to make one of his four saves today. Look for Raul to come out looking to make a big at Leeds to make up for his poor form recently.
Podence had another decent match. You can see the creativity and fluidity he brings to this side. He combined several times with Dendoncker with some quick passes that led to a few good chances but the final ball just was not there. I believe if he continues to perform at this level, he will be involved in more goals going forward.
Moutinho was the first sub brought on to see out the three points. He came on for Podence switching Wolves from a 5-2-3 to a 5-3-2. I believe we will see him in that role more often than we did in the previous two seasons in the top flight. This sub was an interesting one from Nuno as Wolves were dominating the second half up to that point going forward. Wolves were able to see out the three points and in the end that’ll be enough.
The new kid made his second appearance, coming on with ten minutes to go for Semedo. He was given a tough task of tightening up the right side which was under a ton of pressure in the previous ten minutes. Hoever looked confident defensively, clearing the ball several times in the final phases of the game.
Nuno had Traore on the bench to potentially bring him in as a super sub. He would have come on earlier if not for the Neto goal ten minutes into the second half. Traore did not spend much time on the ball with Fulham having possession for most of the final ten.