Nuno Santo never usually has too many selection dilemmas.
After all, this is a man who in 166 of his 168 Wolves matches, has stuck with a formation that sees three centre-backs operate.
Furthermore, he is used to working with a small squad.
In each of the last two seasons, his side used the fewest number of players in the entire Premier League – 21. It’s a similar story this term too, with the Old Gold utilising just 20 players – the third-fewest of any top-flight team.
So, why after all this time, does he finally have a big problem in his squad? Well, that’s because he’s suddenly changed the formation, deviating away from his tried and trusted three or five at the back system.
Against Southampton, Nuno moved to four defenders and after drawing with the Saints, he used the same formation versus Arsenal. The result this time was a win, and they did it without one of their star players – Ruben Neves.
The Portuguese started against the Saints but at the Emirates Stadium, Nuno proved that he doesn’t necessarily need Neves in his side. Against one of the better teams in the division, it was impressive, but it’s also brought about an issue. How does he get back into the starting XI?
Of course, the midfielder is a class above, described as someone who “blew everybody’s mind,” when he first arrived in English football.
Though, with Daniel Podence’s performance in a number 10 role against Arsenal, it’s meant that playing three deeper midfielders of Neves, Dendoncker and Moutinho like there was against Southampton isn’t needed.
Podence was electrifying as he found the back of the net and performed four dribbles, tormenting the Gunners backline. Dropping him, therefore, would be a controversial decision.
It’s also tough to drop Dendoncker. He hit the woodwork in north London and dominated the middle of the park by winning five aerial duels.
Consequently, it’s difficult to see how Neves works his way back into the team.
The £45m-rated star has usually been one of the first names on the team sheet but now he’ll have to work hard to guarantee his place.
This could become a real headache for Nuno.