This week has been a positive one for Wolves. They’ve not had many in the last few weeks but after signing Willian Jose and drawing with Chelsea, Nuno Santo can begin to breathe a sigh of relief.
Of course, they’re not out of the woods yet but in keeping a clean sheet against Thomas Tuchel’s men, it will have brought a huge degree of confidence to the team.
Wolves have endured a torrid time lately. Nuno’s men have won just three of their last 12 games in all competitions which coincidentally marks the period of time that Raul Jimenez has been out for.
Before their draw with the Blues, they’d failed to keep a clean sheet in the league for 13 outings – a run stretching back to the end of October.
They came close against Manchester United only to concede a late injury-time goal but fortunately, there was no repeat of that when they travelled to Stamford Bridge.
The defence stayed resolute and in the process, their three centre-backs of Willy Boly, Conor Coady and Max Kilman lost just one defensive duel between them.
However, now they’ve addressed their frailties at the back and returned to basics, they need to find a fix to their lack of goals.
In Wolves’ last five outings, they have scored only five times. It’s not a great record but there’s one clear reason as to why they’re not finding the net regularly; they have no Jimenez.
Therefore, the manager simply has to unleash the deadly Willian Jose on Saturday afternoon. The Brazilian may have only just penned terms from Real Sociedad but the Molineux outfit need results quickly.
Jose has now had a number of days to get up to speed and become accustomed with the way Nuno plays. He also enjoyed a small run out against Chelsea where he earned his first taste of English football.
Though, with the qualities he possesses, attributes that have been compared to Jimenez’s, he has to be played from the off.
The Brazilian bagged 62 in 170 appearances for Sociedad and with a record like that has the potential to terrify Crystal Palace. After all, Cheikhou Kouyate has already struggled against a physical presence this week.
The Eagles lost 3-2 to West Ham a few days ago where Michail Antonio bulldozed his way past the defender in dominant fashion. He assisted a goal and also hit the woodwork twice, finding life all too easy against the Senegalese.
With that in mind, Willian could have a field day when Wolves travel to Selhurst Park this weekend.
Like Antonio, he possesses plenty of strength and crucially, makes clever runs. Rio Ferdinand said on BT Sport (via Molineux News) this week: “He can hit the ball off both feet and he’s got good movement in and around there, he knows where to be. That’s what they need, that’s what they’ve been missing.”
Wolves potentially have an option to buy the forward permanently for £17m in the summer and they will surely take that up if he hits the ground running. That begins on Saturday against Palace.