After a brief pause, the Premier League finally returns this weekend with matches scheduled on Saturday planned to go ahead while three games on Sunday are postponed. For 6 games played till now, Arsenal remains first but, Manchester City, Tottenham and Brighton are not far too behind, we’re still at the stage where anyone could jump their positions on the table.
To do just that, we have Wolverhampton Wanderers inviting defending champions Manchester City to Molineux Stadium in the hope to improve their rank. Similarly, the away side will look to snatch all 3 points to claim the top spot. Wolves come from a 1-0 victory against Southampton whereas their opponents for the day arrive with a victory against Bundesliga giants Dortmund after a second-half comeback in UCL earlier this week.
WHEN AND WHERE?
When: Saturday 17th September 2022.
Stadium: Molineux Stadium.
Kick-off: 12:30 PM (UK).
Referee: Anthony Taylor.
Assistant Referee: Gary Beswick & Adam Nunn.
Fourth Official: Tony Harrington.
VAR: Darren England.
Assistant VAR: Dan Robathan.
Wolverhampton Wanderers marquee signing Sasa Kalajdzic will be a long-term absentee due to the forward suffering from ACL. It will be interesting to see if manager Bruno Lage trusts Raul Jimenez despite his dry run of goals or hands Diego Costa his much-awaited Wolves debut. Daniel Podence will be trusted on the wings on the basis of his performance against Southampton.
Lage will not temper any of his defensive player’s positions as this combination has kept Wolves alive in various games this season.
At this point, any amount of research and insider news fails to predict the status of Man City players. Still, based on the data provided by Premier League and in Pep Guardiola’s conference, Aymeric Laporte will miss this game as the Spaniard still getting back to match fitness. Kyle Walker seems to have made significant progress, but his inclusion in the lineup still remains doubtful.
We can expect the trio of Foden, Bernardo and Alvarez to start this game as they were provided with some rest against Dortmund.
Either of Gundogan or De Bruyne may be rested for this game to accommodate Grealish but, the England international’s performance against yellow-blacks may suggest otherwise.
Bruno Lage has changed the Wolves’ defensive fortune this season by making his team adapt to 4-3-3 from the previously used 3-4-3. The fullback duo of Jonny Castro and Ait-Nouri is working wonders because of their understanding of the game and clear communication with other teammates. Their performance to deal with Foden and Bernardo will be crucial in deciding this game’s result.
We expect Bruno Lage to stick with his tactics to start with 2 center halves. Their passing ability along with Nunes’ ability to receive the ball and quickly charge forward is going to help Neto and Podence to create runs for themselves against Manchester City’s high-line defensive set-up.
The presence of Neves in the center of the park along with Moutinho’s reading ability makes Wolverhampton look like a solid defensive unit against Manchester City. They have a chance to kill Man City on counterattacks however, they will have to be clinical because Pep Guardiola won’t allow Wolves to dismantle his defense multiple times in a single match.
Man City will be facing best defensive set-up in the PL. Their opponents on their day can beat any top Premier League club and Pep Guardiola’s are no stranger to this fact.
The Blues would benefit from the presence of accurate crossers like Cancelo and Kevin De Bruyne in the lineup because, this way they have found Erling Haaland numerous times this season. Wolves will sit very deep in their half and likely keep handful numbers up top in an attempt to look for counters. For this, Rodri along with Dias and Co. must be on their toes for any potential threat.
Manchester City can benefit with multiple wide players in their attacking unit, as they can stretch Wolves’ defense to allow other attackers to get into golden positions.
We saw John Stones carrying the ball into attacking midfield against Dortmund but, this tactic may not work against Wolves due to the presence of Neves and Moutinho in midfield.
This can be solved if Pep plays Bernardo Silva or Jack Grealish in midfield because they possess the ability to invite defenders out of positions and draw fouls resulting in set-piece opportunities for Manchester City.
Blues’ best way to win this game will be by creating chances through crossing and cancelling out any counter-attacking threats.
What a signing the Brazilian has proved to be for Wolves this season! Adding an assist already under his tally, the midfielder has been instrumental in their recent run. Bruno Lage is a no-risk type of manager and asks his center halves to skyrocket the ball to clear out the danger. Last season, most of these clearances landed on the opposition’s feet and it became easier for other teams to recycle the possession.
With the introduction of Matheus Nunes into Wolves set up, these loose clearances are now potential triggers of counterattacks. Nunes has the ability to position himself perfectly to collect these balls which usually fall near the halfway line in their own half and quickly charge forward using his pace.
The presence of agile wingers in Podence and Neto allows him 2 great options to find a pass. This brilliant work of Nunes resulted in Podence’s goal against Southampton.
Along with being a solid No. 8, Nunes has also worked pretty hard off-ball and tracked back to assist his defenders. Once reported to be a Manchester City target, it will be a great face-off when he plays against them this week.
As we observed in the game against Dortmund, Manchester City desperately needs Phil Foden on the pitch to provide chances. Foden has developed to become one of the best wide playmakers in the Premier League this season with his assist tally already above 3 this season. It will be up to him to keep Castro in his own half and try to lead more one on one against him. Foden has worked brilliantly with Erling Haaland to link up for goals amid criticism earlier this season. This game will expect the same from the young duo, Foden’s ability to create from the left wing will be key for Erling Haaland and other players to add goals.
Along with that, if Gomez starts as a left-back, it will be Foden’s responsibility to link up with the fullback and get into threatening positions as much as possible.
Foden is well known for his ability to stay on the ball even against most physical defenders, using this trait he can break the man marking pattern that will be employed by Wolves. Inviting Wolves fullbacks up high for defending and dragging them out of their positions can result in countless opportunities for Manchester City to kill the game off and England international Phil Foden has the caliber to just do that.
Wolves predicted lineup vs Man City: J. Sa; J. Castro, N. Collins, M. Killman, R. Ait-Nouri; M. Nunes, R. Neves, J. Moutinho; P. Neto, D. Costa, D. Podence.
Manchester City predicted lineup vs Wolves: Ederson; J. Stones, R. Dias, N. Ake, J. Cancelo; K. De Bruyne, Rodri, B. Silva; J. Alvarez, E. Haaland, P. Foden.