Three points albeit a game hand, Wolves need to produce a result against visiting side Brighton & Hove Albion if they want to continue their fight for a European place finish as both sides clash at Molineux Stadium.
Bruno Lage’s side has had a really good season, sitting eighth as things stand. Not only the points total but overall quality in West Midlands’ club has improved under the Portuguese manager. Their ever-reliable defence has conceded 29 goals one more than third-placed Chelsea and is the best besides the top three top teams in the Premier League.
As for Potter’s side, it will be considered a season where the team has failed to capitalize on a very bright start to the season where the side sat fifth in the league position to now sitting in eleventh place. Up till gameweek 10, the side drew against Arsenal and came back from 2-0 down to draw the game at Anfield. But a series of defeats from mid-February to mid-March saw the team lose six on the bounce and Brighton lose all of their momentum.
WHERE AND WHEN?
Venue: Molineux Stadium.
Date: Saturday, 30th April 2022.
Time: 15:00 (BST).
Referee: Simon Hooper
Assistant referee: Dan Robathan, Derek Eaton.
Fourth official: James Linington.
VAR: Michael Salisbury.
Assistant VAR: Ian Hussin.
Wolverhampton Wanderers’ recent Premier League form: L-L-W-L-W
Brighton & Hove Albion’s recent Premier League form: D-L-W-W-L
Wolverhampton trio of Ruben Neves, Daniel Podence and Max Kilman all remain sidelined with injuries but Bruno Lage is optimistic that all the three can return before the end of the season. Nelson Semedo who is now back after starting his first game since February while retaining his place with Johnny starting at the opposite flank.
Malian international Yves Bissouma will be back in the starting lineup after missing two matches due to suspension as he accumulated 10 yellow cards for the season. Jakub Moder is ruled out for the rest of the season with an ACL injury, while right-back Tariq Lamptey is doubtful with a knock and he will be assessed ahead of kickoff so Solly March or Joel Veltman could start as a right-back or right wing-back depending on the system Potter choices for the game.
Wolves’ hopes of playing European football have slowly looked unlikely given the team’s lackluster performances in the past few weeks. According to xG, Wolves have underperformed in each of their last four Premier League encounters. That is not good enough if you are a team chasing a European place. Goals are still an issue for the Midlands side. Raul Jimenez, the team’s primary goal scorer has not looked like himself since returning from injuries. Hwang Hee-chan, after an explosive start has not been able to replicate his good form with only 2 goals in the last 20 league appearances & the loan signing of Trincao has not gone according to plan. Bruno Lage needs to invest in a very sensible fashion this summer if he wants to continue the good work he has done this season.
Brighton are on route to their best ever Premier League finish but they could have done so much more this year. Their expected goals stand at 39 goals but they have managed to score only 31 due to poor finishing this year. They faced the same problem last year and with a great recruitment team behind them, it was expected they could figure out a solution for this problem. They brought in Andi Zeqiri but immediately loaned to Augsburg, Denis Undav and he too was loaned to Union SG, his former side. Every player in the team has performed exactly accordingly, no one has misfired or overperformed, it is just that they need to go all out for a good striker who gives them 15 goals a year. If Burnley go down they can have a look at Wout Weghorst who is exactly the profile that they need to target and if the Clarets go down, he will be available for a cut-price deal.
PLAYERS TO WATCH OUT FOR
Romain Saiss has now been a Wolves player since 2016. He made 204 appearances for the club and helped them win a promotion & solidify their status as a team that will always knock on the doors for a European spot. As always Saiss has been a consistent performer for his side this season. He works very hard for his team and awareness allows him to ‘bring the game to him’ which means he is always in control and does not get drifted in the flow of the game. He makes more interceptions than tackles which shows his positional awareness and in three Premier League seasons, he’s only made one error leading to a shot. Bruno Lage, who considers him ‘Maldini-esque’ wants his club to tie down the defender’s long term future as his contract runs out this summer.
If there is one regret that the Seagulls fans might have this year, it would be why on earth has Graham Potter taken so long to integrate Moisés Isaac Caicedo. Brought in last year’s January transfer window, Caicedo was heavily scouted by many European clubs especially Manchester United who were close to agreeing on a deal for the Ecuadorian & then he was loaned out to the Belgian side Beerschot. Brighton recalled him and he has taken to Premier League football like a duck to water with impressive performances against North London clubs Arsenal and Tottenham. Caicedo has already played in the centre of the midfield, defensive midfield and attacking midfield and his raw numbers have been pretty good in all the positions. This already looks like a steal considering some of the fees that have been splashed on players who do not possess the technical abilities as he does.
Wolverhampton Wanderers predicted XI: Sa; Boly, Coady, Saiss; Semedo, Dendoncker, Moutinho, Jonny; Neto, Jimenez, Trincao.
Brighton & Hove Albion Predicted XI: Sanchez; Veltman, Dunk, Webster; March, Mwepu, Bissouma, Caicedo, Cucurella; Trossard, Welbeck.
Wolves vs Brighton & Hove Albion: 1-0