If two of the top five teams win the FA Cup and Carabao Cup this season, as Chelsea and Manchester City did in 17/18, then the team that finishes seventh in the Premier League will qualify for the Europa League, and incredibly, all the early signs point to that being the recently promoted Wolves.
Managed by Nuno Espirito Santo, the boys in old gold currently sit 10th in the table despite having had a difficult start to the season in terms of fixtures.
Santo’s side stormed the Championship last season, racking up 99 points on their way to the title but it would still be an incredible achievement to finish even in the top half of the Premier League on their return.
The owners, Fosun International, clearly have aspirations of getting there, though, and spent big this summer, bringing in 11 players with the help of super agent Jorge Mendes, at a cost of over £60m.
It’s obviously early days and is clearly too early to say who will be picking up European places at the end of the campaign. Still, here at Football FanCast we’ve done it anyway. These are the three early signs that prove why Wolves will finish as the first team behind the top six this season, potentially securing them a place in the Europa League qualifying rounds.
Everton are probably the first team many think of when predicting who will be the best of the rest each season but the Toffees have struggled so far. Since drawing 2-2 with Wolves on the opening weekend, Marco Silva’s side have picked up just five more points and the recent loss to West Ham at Goodison Park was surely a wake-up call.
Burnley were the ones who finished seventh last year but the Clarets have suffered from their European exertions and only picked up their first win with the 4-0 hammering of Bournemouth on Saturday. Then there’s Watford, who are certainly not the usual suspects but are riding high in fourth at the moment. The Hornets started quickly under Silva last season before tailing off towards the end of the year and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the same thing happen in 2018/19.
Wolves’ only league loss this season came at the King Power as they fell to a 2-0 defeat against Leicester. Not many would have had the guts to pose that that would be the case at this stage before the season began, considering the new boys have already played both of the Manchester clubs.
In Wolves’ third game back in the Premier League, Manchester City were the visitors to Molineux and even when centre-back Willy Boly put the home side ahead everyone expected the Champions to come back and win the game. Despite conceding with over 20 minutes to go, though, Santo’s side held on for a crucial draw.
Then last weekend at Old Trafford, Wolves were so impressive that they may have wondered how they only came away with a point thanks to Joao Moutinho’s stunning strike. Any points taken off the top six are impressive though and doing it twice points to a team that will be successful in their endeavours this season.
When you’re leaving club-record £18m signing on the bench every week you know you’ve got a strong squad, and Adama Traore has had to contend with only being given substitute appearances in the league so far since his big-money move from Middlesbrough in the summer.
The ex-Barcelona man is a huge talent and can scare the life out of a defender that’s already had to deal with the pace of Helder Costa for 75 minutes, and it was this squad depth that told in their win over West Ham.
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The game looked destined to be heading for a 0-0 draw until the 93rd minute, when substitute Traore popped up with a fantastic winner on the counter attack. Picking up three points away from home in that manner not only improves your league position, it also provides an immeasurable boost to morale that can remain around a dressing room for weeks afterwards.
With Wolves nicking those kind of results and then matching the league’s big boys, don’t be surprised to see them on a European tour at this time next season.
So, Wolves fans, can you see yourselves getting Europa League football next season? Have your say by voting in our poll below.