Wolves’ Turning Point

Wolves’ Turning Point

Introduction

3 games played, 3 losses, 0 goals scored. Therefore, why is there so much buzz about Wolves players as we go into GW4?

Those who have seen Wolves’ games so far and looked at the underlying stats will have been impressed with Lage’s transformation of this team. Our defence is still solid, our front line is far more creative and our opponents have all been strong sides (Leicester, Tottenham & Manchester United).

It’s incredible that Wolves haven’t got points on the board as yet and, even more ridiculous, that they have yet to find the back of the net.

All the signs point towards this team is far more capable of dominating games and scoring goals and, with the beautiful run of fixtures coming up, this explains why Wolves assets could be fantastic value for the foreseeable future.

Two newly-promoted teams are then followed up with Southampton and Newcastle; 4 teams that are sensible targets this season. Wolves don’t face a Top-6 team (Liverpool) in GW15, with great fixtures against Norwich, Burnley and Palace before this. Realistically, Wolves players brought in this week could stay in your squad for 11 weeks before you’d consider dropping them.

So, who to bring in? Who to avoid?


The Best Wolves Players to Bring In

In order of preference, this is who I would be looking to bring in for the upcoming fixtures:


1) Traore (6.0m)

As many people know, he is possibly a one of a kind player. He is insanely fast, with surprisingly good ball control considering the speed at which he moves, and is a joy to watch on his day.

The stats he has recorded so far have been very impressive and it is unfortunate that he hasn’t got off the mark with goals or assists. I think from viewing Wolves’ matches, it is clear that he is operating slightly differently under Lage.

For starters, you can see in his heatmap that he is more on the left/central, unlike last season where he was near-exclusively on the right. He is receiving the ball higher up and carrying the ball into more dangerous areas, rather than getting it to the byline every time and delivering hopeful crosses.

Among midfielders, he has the second-highest xG (1.57), the second-most shots (12) and the 6th highest xA (0.94) – all for just 6.0m! The underlying stats suggest he is an absolute bargain at this price!

I don’t want any readers to go away ignoring these stats because ‘Traore can’t finish’ or ‘Traore has no end product’. These, in my opinion, are false statements. His problem hasn’t been his finishing, it’s been his decision making. His shots in the last few seasons too often have been from difficult angles or distances, and this has resulted in him failing to find the net as much as Wolves fans would have liked.

Under Lage, with a high press tactic, he is winning/receiving the ball higher up the pitch and with more space, allowing him to potentially find the net far more this season. For me, he has the most FPL potential in this run of games.


2) Trincao (5.9m)

Trincao has also started life promisingly at Wolves and is another great option for our next games. So far, he’s managed 8 shots (10th highest) and accumulated 1.26 xG (6th highest). He is more of a traditional winger than Traore and has great potential for getting on the scoresheet.

As you can see from his heat map, he hasn’t been entering the box too much yet. However, from the ‘eye-test’ he looks more than capable of beating a man and getting a shot away. It was only a fantastic block on the line from Wan-Bissaka that prevented him from opening the scoring in GW3 against United.

With ‘easier’ opposition coming up, I expect him to have more (and better) chances to find teammates and the net. At just 5.9m, he’s one to get excited about.


3) Semedo (4.9m)

If you want a way into the Wolves defence, I think Semedo is the best option for you. His price has fallen to £4.9m, offering you a fairly cheap option in a strong defence. Compared to Marcal (4.5), Semedo is more attacking as he looks to move inside and into the area far more. Semedo has had 2 shots and attempted 3 assists in his first two games of the season, the most attacking stats of any Wolves defender so far (other than Saiss, who is the main threat from set-pieces).

Wolves have conceded the second-fewest shots (27) of any team, conceded the third-fewest big chances (3) and have an xGC the same as Chelsea (3.8). Considering Wolves have played Leicester, Spurs and Man United, these are very good defensive stats.

The next two opponents, Watford and Brentford, have the 3rd and 5th worst xG in the league respectively. Clean sheets in this run are likely, and attacking returns should be sprinkled in too. I would also note that Sa (5.0) is a potentially strong keeper for this run, however many people prefer the 4.5m keepers understandably.


4) Raul Jimenez (7.4m)

The only other option I would seriously consider is Jimenez, who has not started the season as well as I would have hoped. As you can see from his heatmap, he hasn’t been too influential in matches so far (who takes kick-offs I wonder?). He is shooting a lot, with the 5th most of any player so far (12). However, only one of these has been on target and he’s only got an xG of 0.46.

At 7.4m (and with such good other forward options), I would like to see him find a bit of form before bringing him in. That said, we know that he is a quality player and he could get going from the next game. In summary, the other good Wolves options I have mentioned are cheaper, don’t take up a valuable forward position, and have better underlying stats.


Rotation Risks?

Many will want to know who is at risk of rotation in this squad, and there are a few potential players.

There is always the chance Lage changes formation and switches to four at the back; this would mean a centre-back drops out and another man joins the attack (e.g. Podence or Silva). Lage has selected 5 at the back in our first 3 matches, albeit against difficult opposition.

  • Ait-Nouri is more than capable of taking Marcal out of the team, especially as he offers so much more going forward than Marcal. However, Marcal has so far started all 3 games in the league.
  • I don’t think Trincao and Traore are under threat from the returning Podence, who should be used more as a sub for now (unless we change formation).
  • Hwang and Silva shouldn’t displace Jimenez and I expect to see both subbed on most matches.

Quick Thoughts on Other Players:

Neves and Moutinho – both will get assists this season. Neves more from open-play, Moutinho more from set-pieces. I don’t like either as an FPL option though as they spend most of the time running the game in the centre of the pitch away from the goal action.

The Centre Backs – we have historically been poor from set-pieces, with Boly and Saiss often our best threat. I have yet to see under Lage if we’ll become more clinical from set-pieces. For now, I don’t want any of them.

Podence, Hwang, Silva, However – at the moment they all look to be starting matches on the bench, thus, aren’t under consideration from me.

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