Wolves will kickstart their campaign in the Carabao Cup on Thursday as they take on Stoke City in the second round.
Wolverhampton Wanderers started their Premier League campaign on a positive note, securing a 2-0 win over Sheffield United last weekend. Now, they will be hoping to advance through to the third round of the Carabao Cup, when they host Stoke City on Thursday evening.
Wolves had an unfortunate time in the Carabao Cup last season, losing to Aston Villa in the fourth round. But if their lineup from that game is any indicator, it is fair to assume that the club does not prefer the Carabao Cup, with Nuno Espirito Santo most likely to keep one eye on the important Premier League fixture against Manchester City next Monday.
Stoke City, on the other hand, were made to work hard to secure a narrow win over Blackpool in the first round. The two teams played out a scoreless draw before a missed penalty from Ollie Turton, in the shootout, helped them advance.
In their most recent fixture, the Potters played out another scoreless draw, this time against Millwall in what was their opening game of the 2020/21 Championship campaign. They were defensively solid in both of these fixtures, however, conceding a total of three shots on target so we’d expect Michael O’Neill’s men to take up a similar approach this time around.
And here, at The Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over these two sides, ahead of this exciting match-up in the Carabao Cup this midweek.
Tactics & Team News
As iterated earlier, Nuno Espirito Santo could ring in the changes ahead of a crucial league game against Manchester City. However, a matchup against a relatively inferior opponent like Stoke City may also allow the Portuguese mastermind to provide opportunities to some of the new signings.
Fabio Silva, in particular, was an unused substitute in the win over Sheffield United. He is set to make his Wolves debut this midweek, leading the attack at the expense of Raul Jimenez. He is likely to be supported by Diogo Jota coming in for Daniel Podence while Pedro Neto is expected to retain his place in the starting lineup.
In midfield, Ruben Neves is pushing for a start after being benched in the last game. He is more than likely to replace the ageing Joao Moutinho, forming the double pivot alongside Vitinha, who made his Wolves debut by appearing as a substitute against Sheffield United.
Further changes are expected in the wing-back slots with Oskar Burr and Ruben Vinagre coming in for Adama Traore and Marcal. Finally, in defence, there could be starts for Leander Dendoncker and young Max Kilman, with Conor Coady marshalling the three-man backline. They will look to provide protection for Wolves’ second-choice goalkeeper, John Ruddy.
Probable Lineup (3-4-2-1): Ruddy; Dendoncker, Coady, Kilman; Burr, Vitinha, Neves, Vinagre; Jota, Neto; Silva
Stoke City manager O’Neill hasn’t been shy to embrace a three-man backline, which could be imperative on Thursday in order to counter the numerical inferiority in the midfield region they could face against Wolves’ signature 3-4-2-1.
🗣️ "We look forward to the challenge of @Wolves."
📺 𝗠𝗶𝗰𝗵𝗮𝗲𝗹 𝗢'𝗡𝗲𝗶𝗹𝗹 𝗣𝗿𝗲𝘀𝘀 𝗖𝗼𝗻𝗳𝗲𝗿𝗲𝗻𝗰𝗲
Watch in full on YouTube.#SCFC 🔴⚪️
— Stoke City FC (@stokecity) September 16, 2020
Ryan Shawcross is slowly getting back to full fitness but this clash could come a little too soon for the experienced centre-back. Danny Batth, therefore, is a favourite to start against his former club. He is expected to form the back three alongside Harry Souttar and Bruno Martins Indi, with James Chester getting a breather.
Josh Tymon is likely to get the nod ahead of Morgan Fox at left wing-back, although we should expect no such changes on the opposite flank, with Tommy Smith retaining his place in the starting lineup.
In midfield, the experienced John Obi Mikel featured the full ninety minutes against Millwall and could be rested, with O’Neill having one eye on the important Championship clash against Bristol on the weekend.
Jordan Thompson is likely to replace Mikel in the deeper midfield and he could be partnered by Sam Clucas and Tashan Oakley-Boothe, with Nick Powell providing an alternative.
The three-man midfield means O’Neill can only opt for two strikers upfront, which makes sense as they are likely to employ a more defensive attitude. So we expect Tyrese Campbell and Jacob Brown to spearhead the Stoke City attack.
Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Butland; Martins Indi, Souttar, Batth; Smith, Clucas, Thompson, Oakley-Boothe, Tymon; Campbell, Brown
- Wolves have won only three of their last ten matches against Stoke City in all competitions.
- The two sides last played at Molineux in December 2011, when a Kevin Doyle own goal and a trademark Peter Crouch header cancelled out an early Stephen Hunt penalty to give Stoke a 2-1 Premier League win over a struggling Wolves side.
- Wolves’ Fabio Silva became the world’s 7th most expensive teenager when he signed for Wolves for £35 million this summer.
Player to Watch
— Talking Wolves (@TalkingWolves) September 16, 2020
Fabio Silva, without a doubt, is set to attract the limelight as he braces himself for his first game on English soil. The Portuguese forward become one of the most expensive youngsters in football when he joined from FC Porto earlier this summer and the expectations are huge as Nuno looks to add more bite in his attacking unit.
Silva’s tactical versatility, combined with the fact that he can sniff goalscoring opportunities makes him a real threat for Stoke City. But more importantly, it will be interesting to see how the youngster combines with some of his teammates including Diogo Jota, Pedro Neto and we may potentially see him operate alongside Jimenez too.
For Stoke City, they will definitely be needing a marker for him, if they are to prevent Silva from making an impact, with the player himself being fully aware of the fact a solid performance this midweek could lift up his confidence before he gears up for some Premier League action.
Wolves 2-0 Stoke City
Wolves are a fairly balanced team and although they are expected to make a host of changes, the team has done well to add quality on the bench with the signing of Vitinha and Silva, as well as Marcal. So it won’t be surprising to see the Midlands outfit sealing a comfortable victory in this fixture.