It was a disappointing result for Wolves in their season opener away at Leicester but an encouraging performance. Jamie Vardy scored the decisive goal with a clever flick at the near post to beat debutant Jose Sa. Having said that, there were some positives to come out of the game for Wolves which will please Bruno Lage. Here are five takeaways from Sunday’s game.
The moment that all Wolves fans have been longing for, the return of Raul Jimenez. It was an encouraging outing for the Mexican who donned his soon to be iconic protective headband for the first time in a competitive match. Raul showed what Wolves had been missing since his horrific injury, acting as a dynamic focal point in attack. He also showed that he was willing to compete in the air when he won an impressive aerial duel with Soyuncu only to glance his header wide. You get the sense that Raul will be back amongst the goals in no time. So good to see him in gold and black again.
It was a lively performance from Adama Traore as he seemed to have a role in a lot of what Wolves did right. However, his finishing left a lot to be desired. At 0-0, the Spanish international raced clear of the Leicester backline after Joao Moutinho played a defence-splitting pass only to fire wide. Bruno Lage commented after the game that if Traore improved his finishing it could propel him to a ‘top team’. Traore will be well aware of his premier league goal record which stands at 7 goals in 141 appearances. He will hope to add a fair few more to that tally this season, and with Lage’s backing, he just might.
It was an impressive performance from Max Kilman who looked assured in defence and confident with the ball at his feet, a quality that will do a lot to endear himself to Bruno Lage. Kilman was dominant in the air all afternoon and produced a shrewd piece of defending when he crucially snuffed out Harvey Barnes following a sweeping Leicester counterattack during the second half. Kilman may count himself unlucky not to have scored an equaliser in the dying moments of the game but saw his shot blocked. It will be interesting to see if the former Maidenhead man can keep his place in the starting eleven if and when Lage plays his preferred 4-4-2 formation. Overall a very impressive outing.
Wolves seemed to be back their cautious – if not unambitious – defensive shape in the first half, sitting very deep and absorbing pressure whilst looking to catch Leicester out on the break. That all changed in the second half however as the back three and the wingbacks pushed higher up the pitch leading to Wolves winning turnovers well into Leicester’s half. Ki Jana Hoever in particular impressed in the second half and was given the freedom to go forward and had the beating of Luke Thomas on more than one occasion. It will be interesting to see how this more aggressive approach fairs this season.
Francisco Trincao made his first competitive appearance for Wolves, and it would be fair to say that after a slow start he grew into the game. Much like the Wolves team as a whole his first-half performance was a forgettable one, but the former Barcelona man came to life in the second half as Wolves looked to apply more pressure. He linked up well with Jimenez and Hoever going forward and produced some eye-catching flicks to keep wolves on the front foot. The young Portuguese winger may also feel that he should have found the back of the net – his goal-bound shot was deflected wide by the recovering Soyuncu. Definitely a player to keep an eye on this season.