This article is part of Football FanCast’s The Chalkboard series, which provides a tactical insight into teams, players, managers, potential signings and more…
Wolves have entered the international break at potentially the worst possible time having begun to change their fortunes around.
The west Midlands club have now won three straight games in all competitions, four if you count their penalty shootout victory in the Carabao Cup, with it all culminating in a stunning 2-0 win against reigning Premier League champions Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium last Sunday afternoon.
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Wanderers boss Nuno Santo could have probably done with more games coming thick and fast so that his side could continue their rich vein of form, but not everything is perfect, and this time on the training ground gives an ideal opportunity to iron out some of their lingering problems.
Despite also recording three consecutive clean sheets, Wolves still concede a substantial amount of shots per game – so on a bad day, they could easily see a couple of goals fly in.
This can be seen through Experimental361‘s ‘Defensive Effectiveness’ graph for the Premier League season to date, which describes Wolves’ backline as ‘competent but busy.’
You can take away from this that Nuno’s back five is resolute and rather impenetrable, but if they were really that good, they would side with the likes of Liverpool and Leicester City who are described as ‘formidable’ as per the graph above.
Therefore, it is reasonable to suggest that their recent upturn in form is somewhat masking the real issue at hand – if Wolves can reduce the number of shots they face per game, then they are going to in turn reduce the number of goals conceded over the duration of the season, which would certainly put them towards the formidable bracket.
One potential cause of this issue could be from those further forward as it seems likely that loss of possession or a lack of a proper press only invites the pressure back onto Wolves’ three centre-backs.
One Wolves fan thinks he’s pinpointed the moment when they went from EPL strugglers to “peak Barcelona 2011” in the video below…
Against Manchester City for example, Pep Guardiola’s side still recorded 18 shots compared to Wolves’ seven, per WhoScored. On another day it just takes one of those to go in for it to be a different game.
A 3-5-2 system has a lack of bodies in the middle as there are only two central midfielders deployed, so the case to return to a 3-4-3 or even have one of the two midfielders drop deeper into an anchor role is only strengthened.
If Nuno can figure out a way to have his defence under less pressure each week, they will be going into matches knowing they only need to convert at the other end of the pitch to have a serious chance of picking up a result.