Tottenham welcome Wolves to the Tottenham Hotspur stadium on Sunday, with both teams wanting to bounce back from midweek defeat. The two teams are challenging to finish in the top four. Although it would be expected that Spurs are the more realistic challengers, Wolves have had an excellent season to date. They are only six points behind West Ham in fourth and a win this weekend would take them above their hosts.
The midweek defeat to Southampton underlined the work still to be done by Antonio Conte. They conceded far too many chances and their midfield struggled to deal with the press of Southampton. Their defenders didn’t look comfortable on the ball. Some players are on borrowed time under Conte and Wednesday night only emphasised that point. However, they have improved under the Italian and the match on Sunday could suit them. Wolves are not a side that presses with the same intensity. Tottenham should have more time on the ball and their quality in attack should have a better platform to win the game.
It has been a very good season to date for Wolves. They are currently in 8th position and they will be aiming to qualify for Europe. A top four finish is a slim possibility, but a top eight finish would still represent an excellent season. Bruno Lage has managed to refresh the team without a huge overhaul of the squad since his appointment. That underlines his quality as a coach. The big issue for Wolves has been a lack of goals. They have scored 19 goals in the Premier League. Only Norwich City and Burnley have found the back of the net on fewer occasions.
- The defeat to Southampton was Tottenham’s first home loss in the Premier League under Antonio Conte.
- Wolves have the second best defence in the Premier League, conceding just 17 times in 22 matches.
There is a feeling that Son Heung-min is now the biggest goal threat in the Tottenham team when all players are fit. Harry Kane has been showing improvements under Conte, but he has yet to recapture his best goal-scoring form. The move for Son’s goal during the week showed that he is the player most likely to get into the best goal-scoring positions, as he was open in the middle of the penalty area. Kane has been dropping deeper, therefore there should be a lot more goals for Son in the coming weeks if this trend continues. This season, he has contributed nine goals and three assists in the Premier League. He is a lot more direct than previous seasons with goals more likely that assists. Son is averaging a goal involvement every 131.5 minutes, showing that he remains one of the most dangerous players in the league. Wolves will set up in a deeper block than Southampton, but Son isn’t a one dimensional player. He will be their biggest threat from range too and that could be a fruitful avenue for Tottenham this weekend.
The problem for Wolves has been a lack of goals. The main reason for this is a lack of creativity. Raul Jimenez has a lot of pressure on him to score. Throughout his Premier League career, he has been consistent in his scoring, but there are parts of his game that haven’t been the same since his serious head injury. However, he is still the one most likely to score the goals until the end of the season. This season, he has contributed four goals and two assists. Jimenez will be disappointed with these figures, as he is capable of a much bigger haul. Tottenham’s defence hasn’t looked convincing in recent weeks and there will be chances for Jimenez to threaten this weekend. If Wolves are to get a positive result, they will need the Mexican international to cause problems.
Eric Dier has been ruled out, which is a huge blow. It was hoped that he would return to the team, as Davinson Sanchez was exposed against Southampton. Rodrigo Bentancur impressed during the week and could be given his first start. Oliver Skipp will be missing until last week.
It is hoped that Joao Moutinho will be passed fit as he was missed during the defeat to Arsenal.Rayan Ait Nouri may be pushing for a recall, with doubts about Marcal’s ability to play two matches in quick succession. Willy Boly and Pedro Neto are both unavailable.
Wolves will be a difficult test for Tottenham, but their more passive approach out of possession will suit Spurs. They struggle against teams with a high press, but Wolves are one of the most passive teams out of possession. They focus on organisation and that has benefitted them this season, as shown by their excellent defensive record. This is likely to be a low scoring game, as Wolves’ matches often are. The home side should have enough attacking quality to get back to winning ways.
Tottenham 1-0 Wolves