‘Pull their fingers out’ – Predicting Wolves results vs Chelsea, Crystal Palace, Watford & Man City
The international break is over and Wolverhampton Wanderers now have a month to kickstart their Premier League campaign.
Six gruelling Europa League qualifiers, which began on July 25 against Northern Irish minnows Crusaders, have badly hindered Wolves’ start to the league season.
After four matches against Leicester City, Manchester United, Burnley and Everton – a tough start by all accounts – Wolves have just three points and face an equally daunting quartet of fixtures before breaking up for October’s internationals.
Wolves will face Braga and Besiktas in their first two Europa League group stage matches across the next four weeks but climbing the Premier League table is paramount.
Chelsea (h), September 14
Wolves’ record against the Big Six last season was excellent and had it not been for a brilliant solo strike in stoppage time from the now departed Eden Hazard they would have taken six points from Chelsea.
‘Sarri-ball’ is no more at Stamford Bridge after Maurizio Sarri left for Juventus over the summer, and it’s probably just as well for Chelsea after Nuno Espirito Santo completely outfoxed him last season.
Despite being in wretched form, one goal down and on the ropes against Chelsea in December, Wolves fought back in the second half to reignite their season. A 2-1 victory under the lights at Molineux, thanks to goals from front two Raul Jimenez and Diogo Jota, set the tone for a spectacular end to the campaign.
One shot on target and 24 percent possession was almost enough to earn Wolves three points away at Chelsea, too.
New Chelsea boss Frank Lampard has opened up with just one win from his opening four league fixtures which included two promoted sides.
Prediction: Wolves 1-0 Chelsea
Here’s a selection of articles from our Wolves writer Alex Dicken:
TV deal breakdown – READ
The inside track on Wolves’ latest addition – READ
Nuno’s latest press conference – READ
Nuno on reaching Group Stages – READ
A first glimpse of £52m strikeforce – READ
Crystal Palace (a), September 22
This is a match Wolves will be targeting for maximum points. While Palace are a threat to the Premier League’s best on their day, their home record has been poor under Roy Hodgson.
Goals have been in short supply at Selhurst Park since the beginning of last season with Palace’s livewire attack, consisting of Wilfried Zaha, Jordan Ayew and Andros Townsend, seemingly better suited to hitting teams on the counter-attack on the road.
Palace have scored just 20 times in their last 21 Premier League matches at Selhurst Park and they fired a blank against Wolves 12 months ago, with Matt Doherty hitting the winner in the second half.
They have, however, been pretty tight defensively in that time, conceding just 23 goals on home soil. Without wanting to roll out an overused cliche, ‘goals do win games’ and Palace’s record of six wins in their last 21 league games at Selhurst Park shows they simply don’t trouble the opposition’s goalkeeper enough.
Having said that, Hodgson’s team did completely outplay Wolves at Molineux in January.
Prediction: Palace 1-1 Wolves
Watford (h), September 28
Wolves are in Carabao Cup action against Reading just three days before they meet Watford at Molineux but Nuno has always fielded his ‘back ups’ in that competition.
Aside from captain Conor Coady – who has played every minute under Nuno since January 2018 – the rest of Nuno’s first XI could be given a rare week between fixtures.
That should work in Wolves’ favour, particularly against a Watford side who have dispensed of the impressive Javi Gracia recently and reappointed Quique Sanchez Flores.
It does feel like matches with the Hornets have a little bit more riding on them at the moment after the FA Cup semi-final and the fallout that followed thanks to Troy Deeney’s unnecessary outburst.
At Molineux though, where Wolves haven’t been beaten since January, Nuno’s side are undoubtedly favourites.
Prediction: Wolves 2-1 Watford
Manchester City (a), October 6
This sequence of Premier League fixtures ends with what’s undeniably the most daunting the division has to offer.
Wolves’ defensive resilience and organisation gives them a chance of upsetting the best, but City are unstoppable on their day.
The 1-1 draw at Molineux between the two last August announced Wolves to the Premier League and the game could have swung either way, although City dominated possession and created several clear-cut openings.
City’s 3-0 win over Wolves at The Etihad in January was a non-event after Willy Boly’s early red card. If Wolves can avoid a similar mishap this time around they possess the tools the frustrate City but, other than Liverpool, teams in the Premier League can’t anticipate anything other than defeat against Pep Guardiola’s All Stars.
Prediction: Man City 2-0 Wolves
How many points will Wolves take from their next four matches?
0+ VOTES SO FAR
What the fans are saying
Adam Holmes: Six with an outside chance of seven, any more and I’d personally be over the moon.
Luke Whyton: We should win three and draw against Man City. But… I’d be happy with seven.
Patricia Pooler: Maybe five. I would be happy with that.
@AdeTWG: Hopefully six minimum, but the lads need to pull their fingers out and start being more intense and aggressive.
@MT58806174: 1, 1, 3, 0. (5) I believe that is what Nuno would take at this point. We can definitely achieve 10 on our day but that would take some doing.