Part of the 100 club at one of the nation’s biggest sides in Arsenal, Alan Smith has been impressed by how Wolves have fared against the top six in the Premier League this season.
The former Leicester City and Arsenal striker is now a well-respected pundit in the game and provided his expert view for Sky Sports during Wolves’ draw with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge earlier this month.
Nuno Espírito Santo’s side have now claimed 10 points against the top six sides in the division and, despite a change in competition, and beaten Liverpool and Manchester United in the FA Cup, and Smith has been impressed by their fearless approach.
Alan, what’s your take on how Wolves have fared against the Premier League’s top six this season?
There’s been a lack of fear. I did the Tottenham game at Wembley which was an amazing occasion, in the second-half I couldn’t believe what I was watching. That’s an example of how well they’ve done against the top six sides, they’ve gone to the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United and got draws, and of course, beat Chelsea at Molineux. They’ve come up against players they’d have seen on the TV, household names, and have done well, which does you a great deal of good.
How impressed have you been with Wolves’ quick adaption to Premier League football?
Wolves couldn’t have done any better I don’t think. They’re in that seventh position, there’s a glass ceiling above them, and for a newly-promoted team it’s been spectacular stuff. It’s the same manager and he has a way of playing, but it’s a few steps up in standard. To continue that philosophy at this level speaks volumes for him and the way the players have adapted. The recruitment has been fantastic. It’s easy to spend money, but not so easy to get it right, we’ve seen that at Fulham, but the lads who’ve been brought at Wolves in have really done well.
How do Wolves compare to other teams promoted from the Championship over the years?
They’re right up there. Back in the day there were obviously teams like Nottingham Forest who went on to win the league, but that’s pretty much off the cards now you’d imagine. I go back to Fulham, they spent a lot of money and you thought they’d be mid-table, but they didn’t get off to a good start and found it difficult. Wolves have gained confidence, but obviously you only do that from getting results and they’ve managed to do that. You maybe go into a season in the top flight, where you’ve not tasted it before, and wonder if you’re good enough as an individual, but they’ve done really well.
What should be the target in the Premier League for Wolves between now and the end of the season?
To try and maintain seventh position. Each place in the Premier League now is worth a great deal of money and that goes towards your transfer budget in the summer. It’s also about maintaining standards. It’s easy, we’ve seen it with other teams like Watford in recent years, they get to a certain position and clock off a little bit. That’s the challenge for manager and players, to keep on going until the end.
What are your memories of playing against Wolves at Molineux during your career?
I played against Wolves many times at Molineux, when the slag heap was behind one goal, it was always a good place to go. When I played there you’d walk in off the main road, into the away dressing room and walk back out the door onto the road. I probably played there more for Leicester than Arsenal, but that was a Midlands derby so always meant something. I played left midfield once when we were short on numbers, but we ended up winning so it was a good day. As a ‘Brummie’ myself, I always like to see the West Midlands clubs doing well.