Things look to be on the up for Wolverhampton Wanderers under the leadership of Bruno Lage in recent weeks, with the team picking up 10 points from a possible 12 over their last four Premier League fixtures, and the 45-year-old will undoubtedly be hoping for yet another positive result when Everton visit Molineux on Monday night.
With the Toffees currently on a run of contrasting form, having picked up just four points from as many games, Lage will know that his side have a fantastic opportunity to close to the gap to those currently occupying the European places in the Premier League table, with Wolves just one point behind Manchester United in seventh going into the weekend.
However, after Fernando Marcal missed out on the 1-1 draw with Leeds United last weekend as a result of a calf injury, the performance of Rayan Ait Nouri while standing in for the 32-year-old will have presented the Wolves manager with something of a selection headache ahead of the Everton clash.
Indeed, over the course of his 83 minutes on the pitch at Elland Road, the £16.2m-rated youngster impressed on the left-hand side of Wolves’ back five, making three clearances, one interception and five tackles, as well as successfully completing two dribbles and two long balls and winning eight duels.
These returns saw the defender receive a match rating of seven from Birmingham Live‘s Alex Dicken, with the journalist stating of Ait Nouri’s display: “The Frenchman justified his selection with a good performance. He offered a threat going forward and worked Meslier on one occasion, whilst competing with Leeds’ star man Raphinha.”
It remains unclear at present whether the £29k-per-week Marcal will be fit to face the Toffees on Monday, but even if the player who Romain Saiss dubbed a “strong” option has recovered from his knock, Lage must ensure that he sticks with Ait Nouri. The 20-year-old proved last time out that he is more than capable of doing a better job at left-back than the Brazilian, which is reflected in the youngster’s 6.78 WhoScored rating this season compared with Marcal’s 6.63.