A return to winning ways will be on the agenda for both Wolverhampton Wanderers and Huddersfield Town when they meet at Molineux on Sunday
Only two games are on offer on the second day of Gameweek 13, with Sunday’s action being wrapped up at the Molineux. Wolverhampton Wanderers will be aiming to arrest their recent slide down the Premier League table, when relegation threatened Huddersfield Town pay them a visit in a match that has some high stakes.
The end of the previous international break had snapped all the momentum that Wolves had built in the first two months of the season. Nuno Espirito Santo’s men are now four games without a win, a run that has seen them drop out of the top half of the Premier League table, although they are only one big win away from jumping all the way up to 6th.
Huddersfield, on the other hand, have enjoyed a mini turnaround of sorts in recent gameweeks. The Terriers notched up their first win of the season earlier this month by narrowly beating Fulham 1-0 before producing a spirited display to hold West Ham United to a 1-1 draw. But, David Wagner’s men remain in the drop zone, which will be a huge concern for the manager.
The last time Huddersfield and Wolves clashed at the Molineux was in the Championship in April 2017, with the Terriers winning by the slimmest of margins before eventually sealing promotion to the top division. Ahead of the first Premier League meeting between the two sides, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the encounter.
Team News & Tactics
Nuno Espirito Santo has been renowned to not tinker with his side all that much, with Wolves manager making the least number of changes this season. But, the Portuguese will be forced to make at least one change to his side, with Jonny Otto being sidelined for up to six weeks due to a knee ligament injury.
In his absence, Ruben Vinagre is likely to start as the left wing-back for Wolves. On the opposite flank, there were initial concerns over the availability of Matt Doherty as well, after the 26-year-old missed both the games for Republic of Ireland during the international break due to a facial injury.
Doherty though, is fit and available, and should play a pivotal role for Wolves against Huddersfield, particularly in the final third with his marauding runs. Meanwhile, the rest of the side should remain unchanged, much in tune with Nuno’s ways.
Ivan Cavaleiro, who was the first change of a season in a Wolves starting lineup this season, has seemingly usurped Diogo Jota since taking the latter’s place against Tottenham. And, having scored against Arsenal two weeks ago, the 25-year-old should keep his place ahead of his compatriot in an all-Portuguese attack that will also comprise of Helder Costa and Raul Jimenez.
The midfield partnership of Ruben Neves and Joao Moutinho is set in stone as well, while Conor Coady, Willy Boly and Ryan Bennett are expected to continue in the back-three. Rui Patricio is the seventh Portuguese player who will be a part of the starting lineup when he takes his place in the Wolves goal.
Probable Lineup (3-4-3): Rui Patricio; Bennett, Coady, Boly; Doherty, Moutinho, Neves, Vinagre; Costa, Jimenez, Cavaleiro
Like Nuno Espirito Santo, David Wagner does not have many pressing roster issues to deal with either, on the team news front. Against Wolves on Sunday, the Huddersfield boss will be without just two first-team players due to injury or suspension.
Defence has been hit hard by these couple of concerns, with Chris Lowe facing a considerable period on the sidelines due to a shoulder injury. The other player who will be unavailable to take on Wolves is Mathias Jorgensen, who is banned for one game after accumulating five bookings. Jonas Lossl was a minor concern as well, but the Dane has shrugged off a knock.
Meanwhile, there has been a distinct upturn in form ever since Wagner reverted to the 3-5-2 formation, with Huddersfield able to adopt a back-five that is also supported by a midfield quartet while defending. But, replacing Zanka and Lowe will be key for the Terriers, and that responsibility should be given to Jon Gorenc Stankovic and Erik Durm.
Stankovic will join Terence Kongolo and Christopher Schindler in the backline, with Florent Hadergjonaj being the right wing-back. In the middle of the park, Aaron Mooy will be a key man, especially on turnovers, with Jonathan Hogg focusing more on the defensive aspect of the game.
Upfront, Steve Mounie is likely to be preferred to Laurent Depoitre, while Alex Pritchard will play off the Frenchman, looking to occupy the half spaces when Huddersfield have the ball.
Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Lossl; Stankovic, Schindler, Kongolo; Hadergjonaj, Mooy, Hogg, Billing, Durm; Pritchard, Mounie
- This is the first time that Wolverhampton Wanderers and Huddersfield Town will lock horns in a Premier League tie, and their first top-flight encounter since 1972. Overall though, Huddersfield have been victorious in 10 of their last 12 league meetings with Wolves, winning 1-0 on each of the last three occasions.
- Wolves have scored only two first-half league goals this season, fewer than any other side in the Premier League. Huddersfield, on the other hand, have conceded 14 first-half goals this term – the most in the division.
- Huddersfield are without a win in their last 10 Premier League away games (D5 L5).
- Wolves are hoping to avoid losing three consecutive home league fixtures for the first time since February 2017.
- The Terriers haven’t scored more than once in any of their last 22 Premier League matches, managing just nine goals in total during this run.
1. Wolves to beat Huddersfield @ 1.50
Player to Watch
The wing-back slots are quite crucial to the success that Nuno Espirito Santos has enjoyed as the Wolves manager so far. While Ruben Neves and Joao Moutinho are tasked with building up play in the middle of the park, the end product is supplied by the two wide men, with the front three remaining narrow and creating overloads around the opposition box.
With that considered, the absence of Jonny Otto could prove to be telling, possibly leaving too much to do for Matt Doherty. But, Ruben Vinagre will hope to shoulder equal responsibility on the left flank, although he has big shoes to fill in the absence of the Spaniard.
As has been typical of Jonny, Vinagre will see a lot of the action in the final third, with Moutinho and Neves helping out defensively and covering his and Doherty’s tracks. His output will thus, be crucial if Wolves are to return to winning ways after more than a month.
Wolverhampton Wanderers 2-0 Huddersfield Town
Wolves are coming into this game on the back of a momentum-sapping four-game winless run, while Huddersfield are hoping they have started turning their fortunes around after doubling their points tally in just two games. But, a closer look would suggest that the runs are about to be reversed on Sunday.
Huddersfield have been abysmal on the road, managing to notch up just two points and four goals from their five away games this season. Their last two losses at the Molineux notwithstanding, Wolves have actually been quite solid at home, even running Tottenham close in their last outing at home.
All things considered, Nuno Espirito Santo & co. should have more than enough firepower to snap Huddersfield’s mini unbeaten run and return to winning ways themselves. The Hard Tackle predicts a 2-0 win for the hosts.