Champions League in sight for Wolves this season
Wolves might have got nothing from Thursday's Premier League clash against Liverpool, but they still came out of the game with plenty of praise.
Nuno Espirito Santo named an unchanged starting XI after the spirited 3-2 win over Southampton, with Raul Jimenez supported in attack by Adama Traore and Pedro Neto.
They fell behind from one of Liverpool’s first corners, with Trent Alexander-Arnold picking out Jordan Henderson at the near post. Wolves are used to going behind in the top flight, conceding the first goal on 17 occasions. Yet the stats show they are not fazed by this, and they remain seventh after Thursday’s defeat.
If games ended at half-time, then Wolves would be rock bottom but Nuno’s men showed how dangerous they can be as they went toe-to-toe with the league leaders.
Barring the biggest collapse in Premier League history, the title is Liverpool’s but what was more apparent was Wolves’ ability to meet them head-on.
Traore was untouchable on occasions, just ask Andrew Robertson. The Scotland international could only watch on at times as Traore left him in his wake and he was eventually booked for a challenge on him at the end of the box.
— Wolves (@Wolves) January 24, 2020
The former Middlesbrough man created Jimenez’s goal after a stunning counter-attack, but Roberto Firmino eventually grabbed the equaliser.
Liverpool are still unbeaten in the top flight after the first 23 matches, and the title race became a one-horse race in November. However, the race for the Champions League places is still firmly on.
Wolves are six points behind fourth-placed Chelsea, but Nuno says they are progressing really well under his stewardship.
He told BBC Sport: “It was a good game. We played well. There is nothing to be disappointed about. Getting the momentum was important.
“We defended well, we were well organised. This is what we want. We want to compete and keep on growing. We had in the last moment of the game [the chance to equalise]. It’s about creating. Things will come naturally. I’m happy when we perform well. We faced a fantastic team. This is the standards we want.”
Wolves have already worked wonders after battling a busy schedule to confirm their place in the knockout stages of the Europa League.
If they fail to finish in the top four, Nuno’s men can still reach the promised land by winning Europe’s second-biggest competition.
The arrival of Leonardo Campana will give the former Valencia coach another option up top, while Traore has now become one of the most dangerous forwards in the top flight.
If the likes of Conor Coady, Joao Moutinho, Ruben Neves, Jimenez and Traore can stay fit, Wolves have a very realistic chance of challenging the Premier League’s top six teams for a place in Europe’s elite competition.