Wolverhampton comes to Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Saturday afternoon in the first match of gameweek three; what can Spurs expect from the Wolves?
Despite being winless and scoring only one goal through two games, the Wolves will feel confident heading into London. In their last four trips to north London, the Wolves have won three times, scoring eight times in those three games.
Alternatively, Tottenham will want a match like the 2-0 win at home in May 2021, rather than the 0-2 Wolves win in February this year.
Although recent history may be on their side, to believe that tells the tale of what will happen Saturday overlooks the reality of the two clubs’ current situations. Form and a few other factors make this a match Spurs should win, so what can we expect?
Tottenham is facing a hungry, but a bit hurt Wolves side
We can all count on coming into the game because with a bit of history on their side and coach Bruno Lage’s approach, Wolverhampton is not coming in scared of Tottenham Hotspur. Although the Wolves have only one goal as opposed to Tottenham’s six, sitting back is not how the team operates.
Wolves dominated possession in each of their first two games, holding 60% possession against both Leeds and Fulham, and has the sixth most passes in the league so far, with 1,034 passes in two matches. As a point of comparison, Spurs only have 864 passes through two games. Unfortunately for Lage’s side, those passes have not resulted in many good looks at goal.
Even though the Wolves have lots of possession, they are in the bottom half of the table in shots attempted with 22 through two matches and are one of just five teams having scored a single goal this season.
Wolves have to replace Jiménez.
The most prominent explanation for the lack of shots and goals from all that possession is that the Wolves tend to settle for long-distance shots, and the best goalscorer, Raúl Jiménez, is injured.
Wolves are in the top half for crosses, but without their target, they have struggled. The struggles could change against Tottenham as the club’s new signing from Valencia, Gonçalo Guedes, is good in the air scoring three of his 13 goals for Valencia on headers last season.
More importantly for Wolves, Guedes seems poised to get his first start in place of Jiménez following his 30-minute debut against Fulham last weekend.
Another Wolves player who is likely to start on Saturday for the first time this season is Adama Traoré. The winger – who has returned from loan at Barcelona – made a 12-minute cameo appearance against Fulham but should be ready to face Tottenham.
Traoré has long been linked with a move to N17, but Spurs have never actually bid for the Spanish attacker. Traoré could be why we see Ryan Sessegnon start at least once more ahead of Ivan Perisic, with Sessegnon being a bit more conservative and defensive-minded. W
ith Cristian Romero out, Wolves will be looking to move the Tottenham defenders with Traoré and Guedes to create space for Pedro Neto and Ruben Neves to operate. This can be a tricky fixture if Tottenham does not handle its business early.
Wolves are not likely to score many goals, but if Spurs continue to concede first, it could be a long after for the home team. We can expect Wolves to be a game team, ready to make a run at Tottenham. The only question is if they have the pack to push Spurs, which seems unlikely.