Crystal Palace will be aiming for three points when they face a Wolves side looking to bounce back from recent disappointments.
Wolves suffered a blow to their Champions League aspirations after back-to-back defeats to London sides Arsenal and West Ham United in the space of a week. But they stand a chance to climb up to seventh with a victory over Crystal Palace when the two teams collide this Saturday at the Molineux.
As for their top-four aspirations, the two defeats have left Wolves seven points behind fourth-placed Manchester United. This gap could be difficult to close with only 12 games remaining in the season, although they could certainly push for Europa League places before the campaign ends.
While Bruno Lage’s men have been solid this season, they will need to improve their goalscoring form on home soil. Wolves have only managed ten goals at the Molineux this term, with Norwich being the only side to have scored fewer on their turf. But Crystal Palace will represent a challenging prospect for the Midlands side to overcome this weekend.
Crystal Palace come into this clash with the aim of getting into the top half of the table. Some of their recent results point towards a resurgence in form after suffering disappointing results since the turn of the year. Patrick Vieira will be keen to see his team keep up the confidence after their FA Cup triumph over Stoke City.
Despite dropping crucial points in 2022, Palace are still a difficult team to beat, losing just once in their last seven games across all competitions. However, they have just a solitary victory in their last eight Premier League games. Moreover, the London club have lost each of their last three clashes at the Molineux – a record Viera will certainly look to improve.
Having beaten Wolves already this season, Vieira could also take inspiration from his side’s recent away form, with the Eagles having not lost on their last four away trips.
Team News & Tactics
Palace prep in progress.
— Wolves (@Wolves) March 3, 2022
Bruno Lage will be without Nelson Semedo for about 4-8 weeks due to a hamstring injury sustained against Arsenal. Ki-Jana Hoever should start in his place at right wing-back.
Surprisingly, Lage kept key trio Raul Jimenez, Daniel Podence and Joao Moutinho out of the starting lineup against West Ham last time out. Those three could be back in the lineup, with the manager likely to slightly change the shape after suffering two consecutive defeats in the Premier League.
Meanwhile, Pedro Neto will also be pushing for a start. If Lage decides to include the Portuguese youngster right from the start, he could field a front three, including Jimenez and Podence. Moutinho and Ruben Neves, who is being linked with a move to Real Madrid, should form the double pivot in midfield.
If Neto remains on the bench, Jimenez and Podence could start up front, with a midfield three behind them. In case a midfield three is deployed, Leanardo Dendoncker could be included alongside Ruben Neves and Moutinho.
Meanwhile, there could be no changes made to the backline with Max Kilman, Conor Coady and Romain Saiss primed to start against Palace.
Probable Lineup (3-4-3): Jose Sa; Kilman, Coady, Saiss; Hoever, Moutinho, Neves, Ait-Nouri; Podence, Jimenez, Neto
Nathan Ferguson remains absent for the Wolves clash, while Joel Ward’s participation has also been ruled out, although he is closing in on a return. In his continued absence, Vieira will resort to playing Nathaniel Clyne again in the right-back position.
"We will have to play well, we will have to work hard as a team. When we have possession we will have to use the ball well to create opportunities."
Tomorrow we head to WV1 🦅#CPFC
— Crystal Palace F.C. (@CPFC) March 4, 2022
Vieira could revert to a 4-3-3 after playing a 4-2-3-1 in midweek against Stoke. The usual system could bring about changes to midfield and the attacking personnel in the team. Michael Olise, who started in the No. 10 position, could be back in his normal right-wing slot, with Jordan Ayew dropping out.
Conor Gallagher could come in to take his place on the right side of the midfield. Cheikhou Kouyate should start at the base of central midfield, with Jeffrey Schlupp on his left. Will Hughes is likely to drop to the bench.
Wilfried Zaha is set to feature on the left side of the attack. Vieira will have a decision to make over his starting option in the centre-forward role. As he opted to start with Jean-Philippe Mateta in midweek, the likelihood of Christian Benteke or Odsonne Edouard getting the nod increases, and the Belgian could be preferred to lead the line.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Guaita; Clyne, Andersen, Guehi, Mitchell; Gallagher, Kouyate, Schlupp; Olise, Benteke, Zaha
- Wolves have kept a clean sheet in their last three home matches against Crystal Palace in all competitions.
- Wolves have won their last three matches against Crystal Palace at the Molineux in all competitions.
- Wolves have scored ten league goals at home all season, with only Norwich City scoring fewer than the Midlands side.
- Crystal Palace have one victory in their last eight Premier League games.
- Crystal Palace have lost one in their last seven games across all competitions, and are unbeaten in their previous four Premier League away games.
Player to Watch
After another impressive performance during midweek against Stoke, Olise took further strides in establishing himself as a vital member of Patrick Vieira’s Crystal Palace setup. The youngster has plenty more to offer and will have another shot at cementing his place in the front three when Palace face Wolves.
His skill set will be critical for the Eagles if they wish to unlock a stubborn defence such as Wolves. He needs to get involved in more direct plays and combine with players around him better. Games like these will be an important step forward in Olise’s development, and owing to recent good performances, the spotlight will be firmly placed on the former QPR starlet.
Wolves 2-1 Crystal Palace
Wolves have been tremendous throughout the season. Despite a very difficult start to the campaign, Bruno Lage has rallied the side and has them actively competing for a European place, with an unlikely tilt for a Champions League spot still in play.
The manager will be desperate to avoid a third consecutive defeat and keep their hopes of a top-six finish alive. Considering that Crystal Palace have picked up just one win in their last eight league games, the hosts should see out the challenge from the Eagles at the Molineux, albeit by a narrow scoreline.