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 managed to pick up their first win of the Premier League season last weekend with a 2-0 victory over Watford, but they may struggle to build on it as they face the tough task of going to the reigning champions Manchester City and getting a result.
Their job will be made more difficult as forward Diogo Jota has missed their last two fixtures, including their Thursday night game at Besiktas.
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Three days isn’t much of a turnaround to get yourself fit, and after not travelling with the squad, it remains to be seen if that has positively affected his playing potential this weekend.
However, this season, he’s yet to properly get going with just one goal in six appearances, and this injury is certainly not going to help his cause.
But Wolves shouldn’t dwell on his loss too much as it may actually bring success to another member of the squad – Raul Jimenez, as surprising as that is, as the pair formed a lethal partnership last season.
Last time Nuno Santo deployed a 3-5-2 formation with Jota and Jimenez in attack, they were trounced 5-2 by Chelsea at Molineux with the 28-year-old’s heatmap showing how little of an impact he had inside the penalty area – it’s practically non-existent.
That’s astonishing from a striker.
But the Portuguese boss has since reverted back to the 3-4-3 formation that won them the Championship in 2018.
This should eventually bear fruit for Wolves as the system utilises one striker with two wider forwards that can operate in the half-spaces behind him – meaning Jimenez can have a more significant impact inside the box, instead of trying to come deep to collect the ball.
Jota being out allows Wolves greater license to try this formation too. That’s because of Cutrone’s poor form, as well as Pedro Neto and Adama Traore not being direct centre-forwards.
All of the Mexican’s goals have come from inside the penalty area, per the Understat graph below, which tells you everything you need to know on where the striker needs to be to breed success in the old gold shirt.