Wolves travel to the Tottenham Hotspur stadium on Sunday afternoon, looking to build on last week’s impressive second half display at home to Brighton. Wolves will look to draw closer to local rivals Aston Villa with a win in London against a Spurs side who have had an indifferent start under interim manager Ryan Mason.
Although it may not feel like it, Wolves are in relatively good form having lost just one of their last five games. No one needs reminding which game that was! Last Sunday’s victory against Brighton provided a much-needed morale boost for players and fans alike. The second half display was entertaining, and Wolves ran out deserved winners against the Seagulls who played half an hour with ten men. Many of the younger players impressed for the second consecutive game, with Ryan Ait-Nouri and Morgan Gibbs-White the standouts. Wolves are cemented in 12th position with three games to go, four points ahead of Crystal Palace and four points behind Aston Villa. With very little to play for and a top half finish highly unlikely, many are hoping Nuno continues to give the youngsters a chance to flourish against better quality opposition in the final three games.
It has certainly not been as dull at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium as it has been at Molineux in recent months. Since April, Tottenham have sacked Jose Mourinho, replaced him on an interim basis Ryan Mason who is now the youngest ever Premier League manager and also lost a Cup final at Wembley. Amongst all that, they are still fighting for a top six place, and got themselves back on track with home victories against Southampton and Sheffield United. However, last Saturday’s defeat at Leeds was concerning, with Marcelo Bielsa’s side beating Tottenham in every department.
Predicting how Wolves will line up on Sunday is a bit like predicting the Wolverhampton weather in the past few weeks. It is more than plausible to believe that Nuno could revert to a back three for the two tough away trips in the coming week, as well as bring some more experienced players such as Leander Dendoncker and Willian Jose into the starting line up. However, following last week’s win, many will hope Nuno sticks to the back four and continue to give the younger players a chance. There are no fresh injury concerns ahead of the fixture, while Marcal and Wily Boly have returned to training but both are unlikely to be involved from the off. Ki-Jana Hoever put in an assured display at right back against Brighton, but it is likely that regardless of formation the more experienced Nelson Semedo will come back in. Max Kilman continued his record of solid performances in a Wolves shirt and looks for more comfortable in a back four than Romain Saiss, meaning he should also keep his place. Daniel Podence was withdrawn in the second half against Brighton and has struggled for form since picking up an injury, which means Adama Traore may come back into the starting line-up, alongside the energetic Vitinha and Gibbs-White.
Likely Line Up: Patricio, Semedo, Coady, Kilman, Ait-Nouri, Neves, Moutinho, Traore, Gibbs-White, Vitinha, Silva (Subs: Ruddy, Saiss, Hoever, Richards, Cundle, Dendoncker, Podence, Corbeanu, Jose)
Ben Davies remains Tottenham’s only notable absence as they look to break into the top six. Since taking charge Ryan Mason has adopted a more offensive approach in comparison to Jose Mourinho. Against Leeds, Lo Celso, Bale, Alli, Son and Kane all started, but Spurs were ultimately caught out with Leeds playing through a weak midfield. Bale has also gone on record stating that the players are enjoying their new attacking freedoms in recent weeks, but Spurs will need to defend better if they are to qualify for European football next season.
The game will be the 99th competitive meeting between the two clubs, with Tottenham having the upper hand, winning half of the previous encounters. Wolves have won just 29 games against Spurs in their history. They do, however, have a relatively good record against Spurs in recent years, with two wins against the London outfit, both away from home in the past two seasons. Raul Jimenez’s memorable winner at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium last season was the final away goal that was celebrated by Wolves fans in a stadium. Earlier in the season the game ended all square at Molineux thanks to a late equaliser from Romain Saiss. Tottenham took the lead in the first minute, but Wolves came on strong and were fully deserving of the point.
How the game pans out will depend on exactly how Wolves line up. If Nuno adopts a similar approach to the previous two matches, this has the possibility of being an entertaining encounter between two sides who will want to be on the front foot. The game is likely to be won in the midfield, where Leeds had so much joy in their victory over Spurs last Sunday. Neves and Moutinho have had indifferent runs of form this season, but Neves consistently ranks as one of the best midfielders at retrieving the ball in the league. If he can do this and put Wolves on the front foot, Nuno’s men have every chance of getting on the scoresheet with the likes of Traore, Vitinha and Silva ahead of them. However, Spurs’ front line is exceptionally talented and has underperformed at times this season. If Wolves play a back four it is inevitable Spurs will create chances and the quality of their strike force will not pass too many chances by.
Prediction: Tottenham 2-1 Wolves