Wolves’ win over Arsenal on Tuesday evening was crucial. Going into the game, the Molineux outfit hadn’t tasted victory in the Premier League this year so it was a welcome return to form.
That being said, it cannot paper over the cracks of what has been a dismal few months.
Since Raul Jimenez suffered a horrendous fractured skull, Wolves have been in diabolical shape. They have won just four times in all competitions following on from that, but alarm bells started to ring well before his injury in November.
The Old Gold have kept only a solitary clean sheet in the league since October and with Nuno tinkering between his formations, it has led to inconsistency.
That has clearly been the case in central midfield – an area you’d traditionally associate with class and vigour.
However, in Joao Moutinho, they have a player who is struggling this season. The Portuguese returned to form against Arsenal by scoring a thunderbolt from long-range but before that, the veteran had failed to score this term.
He is usually the man to set the tempo and pick the locks of Premier League defences. Yet, he has been way off the boil this season and has failed to register a single assist.
It’s led to Wolves reporter Tim Spiers claiming this could be the midfielder’s final campaign as a regular in Nuno’s starting XI. It certainly wouldn’t be a surprise if that conclusion was reached.
Moutinho’s passionate display against the Gunners can’t afford to gloss over what has been a timid and tired campaign for the 34-year-old.
You can hardly blame his weary legs due to the amount of football being played on a regular basis but that’s exactly why Owen Otasowie deserves more minutes.
The American has only appeared five times for the senior side and was handed a surprising Premier League debut against Chelsea. He started behind the striker on that occasion but usually, he plays in a more holding or box to box midfield role.
He has boundless amounts of energy and for Wolves’ central area that could be game-changing. It’s hard to suggest that Leander Dendoncker, Ruben Neves and Moutinho are too mobile so the 20-year-old may add something new.
Speaking about the £1.3m-rated talent earlier this year, Scott Sellars summed up his qualities perfectly: “He’s versatile. His physicality is his biggest strength. He’s really good at protecting the ball and at one-v-ones, with and without the ball. A lot of his development has been done in cages in London and you can see that with him. He’s got a lot going for him.”
His growth in the game has been very different from the more cultured progression of Moutinho. Though, his personality is no different. Like the Portugal international, he has an infectious persona and a positive outlook on football.
Sellars added: “He’s bright, he challenges the norm, which I like about him. He won’t just say, ‘Yeah, that’s OK, I’ll do what you say’. He’s got personality. I’ve had some interesting and very honest conversations with him about where he’s at, which he appreciates.”
We’re yet to see Otasowie truly burst onto the first-team scene but it surely won’t be long before we see him making a bigger impression.
After all, the way he gallops forward is unlike many others in the Wolves team. Nuno simply has to consider the youngster over the next few months.