West Ham United will be aiming to get close to the top of the table when they lock horns with Wolves at the Molineux this weekend.

After a two-week hiatus due to the international break, Premier League returns to action this weekend. And high-fliers West Ham United will be in action on Saturday afternoon when they travel to the Molineux to face Wolves on Matchday 12.

West Ham United are enjoying a dream season. David Moyes’ men are on a seven-game unbeaten run across all competitions, most recently beating Liverpool 3-2 at home, which sent them into third place in the league standings, level on points with second-placed Manchester City and just three points off of leaders Chelsea.

With the Blues set for a tricky contest against Leicester City on Saturday afternoon, the Hammers could close the gap to their London rivals should they slip up or maintain the three-gap distance with a win, should Chelsea also pick up a victory. In their way will be a Wolves outfit, who have had a mixed start to life under the management of Bruno Lage.

Indeed, Wolves had been unable to string together a consistent run of results at the onset of the new campaign. They looked to have turned a corner after going on a five-game unbeaten streak – a run that included wins over the likes of Aston Villa and Everton. But they were pegged down again by a 2-0 loss to Crystal Palace in their latest fixture, which has left them in eighth place, a point below Manchester United in sixth.

The corresponding fixture last season saw West Ham United beat Wolves 3-2, courtesy of first-half strikes from Jesse Lingard, Pablo Fornals and Jarrod Bowen. Ahead of their latest meeting at the Molineux, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at both teams.

Team News & Tactics

Wolves

Wolves have been boosted by the return of full-back Marcal, who has recovered from his injury. However, the Midlands outfit will continue to be without Jonny Castro, Pedro Neto, Yerson Mosquera and Hugo Bueno. Furthermore, Raul Jimenez returned from international duty with Mexico on Thursday, and a call on his involvement will be taken closer to the game.

Bruno Lage will set his team up in a 3-4-2-1 formation in front of goalkeeper Jose Sa. He will be shielded by the three-man defence comprising Max Kilman, Conor Coady and Romain Saiss. Nelson Semedo is a shoo-in at right wing-back, while Rayan Ait-Nouri is expected to hold on to his spot on the left ahead of the fit-again Marcal.

There is no looking past the Portuguese duo of Ruben Neves and Joao Moutinho in the middle of the park. The pair will be tasked with keeping Declan Rice in check while moving the ball forward efficiently. The creative onus will largely lie on the shoulders of the two wide attacking midfielders in Daniel Podence and Francisco Trincao.

Adama Traore is likely to be used as an impact substitute again by Lage, while Jimenez might not be risked from the start either. Instead, Hee-chan Hwang is expected to spearhead the attack for Wolves on Saturday.

Probable Lineup (3-4-2-1): Sa; Kilman, Coady, Saiss; Semedo, Neves, Moutinho, Ait-Nouri; Podence, Trincao; Hwang

West Ham United

West Ham United are set to be without the services of defensive mainstay Angelo Ogbonna, who could miss the rest of the season with an ACL injury. Declan Rice, who withdrew from the England squad during the international break with an illness, is fit and available for selection.

David Moyes will set his team out in a 4-2-3-1 formation, with the focus being on keeping their discipline at the back while trying to exploit the home team on the counter. Lukasz Fabianski will man the goal for the Hammers, with protection coming from the centre-back pairing of Kurt Zouma and Craig Dawson. Ben Johnson and Aaron Cresswell ought to be the two full-backs on the right and left sides, respectively.

The fit-again Rice is a certain starter in the middle of the park, partnering up alongside Tomas Soucek, who will pose a major goal threat from set-piece situations and his late runs into the box. Said Benrahma will be the chief chance-creator, slotting in as the No. 10 for the visiting side.

Jarrod Bowen and Pablo Fornals will occupy the wings for the Hammers, with the duo looking to engineer chances for the striker, who ought to be Michail Antonio.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Fabianski; Johnson, Dawson, Zouma, Cresswell; Rice, Soucek; Bowen, Benrahma, Fornals; Antonio

Key Stats

  • Last season, West Ham United completed their first league double over Wolves since the 1922-23 campaign. The Hammers haven’t won three league games in a row against them since a run of eight between 1920 and 1958.
  • Wolves have won their last two home games in the Premier League, as many as they had in their previous nine fixtures at Molineux (L7).
  • West Ham have won each of their last four Premier League games – the longest current winning run in the competition. The east London outfit have not won five top-flight games in a row since February 2006.
  • West Ham are unbeaten in 11 away games in all competitions (W8 D3).
  • Wolves striker Hwang Hee-chan has scored from all four of his Premier League shots on target, but he failed to register an attempt on goal in his past two outings.

Player to Watch

Michail Antonio

West Ham's main man. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

West Ham’s main man. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

The 31-year-old has been in fine form in the ongoing campaign, having already scored six goals and set up three more in ten Premier League matches. Given the lack of options in the No. 9 role, Antonio is a certain starter for West Ham. He is coming on the back of an eventful international break during which he scored two goals in two games for Jamaica and will be looking to carry that form forward on Saturday.

Prediction

Wolves 1-2 West Ham United

Wolves saw their fine run of results come to an end in their last encounter against Crystal Palace. And going up against an in-form West Ham United side who will be buoyed by their hard-fought win against Liverpool will be anything but easy for Bruno Lage & co. David Moyes’ men are in fine fettle currently and with the form Michail Antonio is in, the Hammers should be able to grab all three points on Saturday afternoon.

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