By 90Min
August 23, 2019

The Wanderers surpassed many expectations in the previous campaign, in spite of their insanely impressive performances in their Championship triumph in 2017/18, finishing seventh and attaining European football, as well as reaching the semi-final of the FA Cup. 

Wolves caught the eye with their tactical astuteness, work-rate and quality in attacking areas. Additionally, they often bettered the top six in head-to-head clashes, earning victories over Chelsea, Tottenham, Manchester United and Liverpool in all competitions. 


A major concern entering this season, nevertheless, was the additional burden of Europa League football, which inevitably means more running, less rest time and a higher chance of fatigue and risk of injuries. Wolves needed to add numbers to their thin squad to cope. 

This summer, thankfully, they did exactly that. Jesus Vallejo arrived on loan from Real Madrid to provide defensive cover, with Romain Saiss and Leander Dendoncker also capable of filling in. Adama Traore has also been converted to a wing-back, giving Wolves four options for the two wide positions.


In a double swoop from Lazio, midfielder Bruno Jordao and forward Pedro Neto were brought in, with the former adding to the midfield depth alongside the emerging Morgan Gibbs-White, who should improve with another year's worth of experience under his belt. 


The latter is a valuable understudy to Diogo Jota, while Patrick Cutrone is a perfect back-up to Raul Jimenez, a target man from Milan with an impressive scoring record at youth level.


Ivan Cavaleiro and Helder Costa secured loan moves to the Championship, no longer fitting into the manager's formation, having switched from 343 to 352 last January, with their aforementioned replacements better suited moving forward. 

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With proven quality already at the club in Jimenez and Jota, as well as the midfield maestros Joao Moutinho and Ruben Neves, Wolves should not be underestimated.


The side most likely to fall from the top six - at this moment, anyway - is Chelsea, who were unable to make signings this summer, have hired the inexperienced Frank Lampard, and lost by far their best player in Eden Hazard


Despite playing attractive football in spells, the Blues have suffered in the second half of games so far this season, with notable drop-offs against both Man Utd and Leicester. 


Lampard has implemented a high-press, the worth of which was shown by Mason Mount's first ever Premier League goal last weekend, dispossessing Wilfried Ndidi by the Foxes' penalty box before coolly finishing.

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However, Chelsea are not used to playing such a high-tempo game, with former managers Maurizio Sarri, Antonio Conte and Jose Mourinho all preferring a more cautious approach. It may take months for the players to adapt, maintaining this style over 90 minutes. 


Even with the return of N'Golo Kante, Chelsea seemed open and vulnerable particularly to counter-attacks. On the other hand, Man Utd have undoubtedly improved their defence with the acquisitions of Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Harry Maguire, and it would be a surprise if they conceded less than the Blues.


With the goal threat of Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford far outweighing the likes of Olivier Giroud and Tammy Abraham, Man Utd also appear to have more goals in them, with Chelsea reliant on numerous players to chip in, rather than counting on proven and reliable big hitters. 

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At the same time, while Arsenal's backline is just as, if not more, unreliable, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette should score more than enough goals to ensure the Gunners' maintain their top six spot. 


So, with question marks surrounding both their defence - which admittedly should improve with Antonio Rudiger - and their striking options, Chelsea appear to be the most vulnerable of the top six of dropping out, with numerous clubs in mid-table eager to assert themselves higher up the table.


Of the bunch, which also includes Leicester and Everton, Wolves remain the best candidates, with an improved squad able - on paper, at least - to displace Chelsea. 

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Wolves' priority needs to be finding ways to unlock stubborn defences, and therefore picking up more points against teams at the bottom end of the table. Incredibly, Huddersfield took six points off the Wanderers last season!


If they can improve on that one area alone, Wolves are more than capable of nicking a top six spot off Chelsea.

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