The games come thick and fast for Wolverhampton Wanderers as Tuesday evening will see Everton come to town in a return to Premier League action. Everton were humbled by a rampant Wolves at Molineux in their last meeting back in sunny July, but that was two lockdown’s ago now and oh how the tables have turned. Everton are now the team mounting a Champions League charge and Wolves are currently the inconsistent, mid-table team that Everton have been in seasons gone by.
Wolves booked their ticket into the Fourth Round of the FA Cup last Friday, by comfortably beating Crystal Palace at Molineux. There looked to be a return to some semblance of a solid defence, with Wolves not conceding a single shot on target in the whole 90 minutes. Wolves hadn’t kept a clean sheet in ten games before Friday, so a sheet as clean as a whitewash after a splash of Daz was long overdue. It was positive to see Wolves have the ability to stifle an opposition when playing four at the back and Wolves will be hoping to keep this defensive solidity going into the game against Everton.
It was also a welcoming sight for Wolves fans to see Adama Traore build on his form that he demonstrated in the game against Brighton; looking dangerous throughout the game on Friday and scoring his first goal in all competitions since February 2020 (against Espanyol, what an away day). Nuno said following the game, I am very happy because I think this goal will boost his confidence’. This will be music to the ears of Wolves fans, and if Traore can continue to mix up his game by cutting inside and getting shots away, this could prove fruitful for Wolves going forward.
Even more encouragingly, it was great to see a relationship developing between Traore and Semedo on the right-hand side on Friday night under the lights. Semedo has become somewhat of a Twitter villain since his big-money summer move but seems to be finding his feet in recent weeks, putting in some solid performances. If Semedo and Traore can build on this connection and chemistry, this will be a dangerous weapon for Wolves and would have been what Nuno was hoping for when they made the acquisition of Semedo in the summer. Another bonus for Wolves is the return to fitness for Leander Dendoncker who has been a huge miss in the centre of Midfield, and his physicality will be vital to a good Wolves performance on Tuesday.
Everton also progressed to the Fourth Round of the FA Cup over the weekend, with a timid display against Rotherham. They were taken to Extra-Time by the Championship side, which could give Wolves an advantage in terms of fatigue levels. Their narrow victory against Rotherham was preceded by another narrow victory against Sheffield United and a loss to West Ham, so they will be looking to bounce back from these results and put in a solid performance. Everton will see themselves as having top four ambitions this season, and currently sit on 29 points, within the chasing pack.
Everton will be without midfielder Allan but no other first team regulars are sidelined currently. Ancelotti gave breaks to regulars such as Calvert-Lewin, Richarlison, Holgate and Pickford in the FA Cup and all will be most likely in the starting eleven come Tuesday. It will be an interesting matchup between Calvert-Lewin and Conor Coady, with Coady tending to struggle against a physical attacking presence. Richarlison has always enjoyed games against Wolves and will be a threat to be weary of come Tuesday. James Rodriguez made a return to the Everton starting eleven on Saturday, so the midfield battle will be one to keep your eye on, especially with the dominant Doucoure being the type of midfield presence that has been known to trouble Nuno’s Wolves in recent seasons.
In terms of personnel for Wolves on Tuesday, as ever, this is so difficult to predict. Even with an injury riddled squad, it has still been a tough task to decipher and predict what will pop up on your phone when the notification pings saying ‘Line-Ups Announced’. With Nuno fielding a largely full strength starting eleven against Palace, it would not come as much of a surprise to see minimal changes come Tuesday. Wolves dominated possession on Friday and should have scored more goals, but the issue that has plagued Wolves in recent weeks reared its ugly head again; the lack of composure and creativity in front of goal. This could leave Nuno tempted to give Cutrone a try up front after being recalled from his loan spell at Fiorentina. As much potential as Fabio Silva may have, in the last couple of fixtures he has been fairly anonymous, and it would not be a huge surprise to see things shaken up a little up top, depending on how well Cutrone has trained since his return.
Wolves will still be without Marcal, Podence, Jonny and of course Jimenez for this tie, and they will most likely not have Wily Boly available. This could see Nuno sticking with a back four, which will need support from the workhorse Dendoncker if they are to stifle a tricky Everton team. With the recall of Gibbs-White, we could see him come in to the starting eleven in the number ten role, but a safe bet would be to see a midfield trio of Dendoncker, Neves and Moutinho.
With only one win from their last seven top-flight games, Wolves have now slipped to 13th in the table and will want to use Tuesday as a springboard for a run of good results. Everton will be a tough nut to crack, with the quality they possess in all areas. But if Wolves can be more clinical in front of goal, they may just get that positive result they are craving and the confidence boost that all Wolves fans will want to see them have before the big one on the 16th against you know who.
Predicted 11- Patricio, Coady, Saiss, Semedo, Ait-Nouri, Dendoncker, Neves, Moutinho, Neto, Traore, Cutrone