Wolves returned to winning ways at a sunny Molineux on Sunday, beating Everton to return to sixth in the Premier League, and here are five things spotted during the impressive win.
1. Jimenez against the Toffees
When Raul Jimenez confidently stroked home from the penalty spot on Sunday, it continued his fine personal record against Everton. Each time the Mexican has faced the Toffees, he’s been on target, scoring in all four contests. In fact, Jimenez’s first goal for Wolves, and in English football, came against Jordan Pickford and Everton back in August 2018.
He followed that goal with another header at Goodison Park in a 3-1 win later in the season, before nodding home his third header against the Blues on Merseyside back in September. So, there was little doubt the striker, when facing Pickford from 12 yards, would produce the required finish. The successful penalty was Jimenez’s sixth out of six in the Premier League – only four players have a better percent ratio in the history of the competition.
"It’s something that I practice in the training sessions. I always try to shoot like that. I’m confident that I’m going to score on the spot. I see the goalkeeper and then score."
2. The Podence effect
The long-awaited Premier League full debut of Daniel Podence was worth the wait for Wolves supporters as the Portuguese put in a thoroughly impressive performance. The wide man was given the nod from the start and interchanged wings with Pedro Neto, causing Everton serious problems. It was his tricky footwork which wielded the first goal, as Podence’s skills took him past Leighton Baines and Anthony Gordon, which tempted Lucas Digne into an illegal challenge in the box.
After the break the 24-year-old’s liveliness continued and he could have had a goal of his own to celebrate, had Pickford not recovered from his mistake on the line. However, Sky Sports’ Man of the Match Podence will be brimming with confidence heading to Turf Moor and gives Nuno Espirito Santo food for thought before naming his team.
3. Mean defence returns
One of the most pleasing aspects of the game from Nuno’s perspective will have been the return of the clean sheet. Restricting their opponents to just two shots on target, Wolves returned to their meanest best at the back to rid the memory of seeing their goal breeched three times in the previous week. It means Wolves have now kept a clean sheet in five of their past six Premier league games at Molineux. You have to go back 18 games before then to match the same total, showing the progress being made in the defence.
4. A midfield masterclass
The absence of Joao Moutinho may have raised eyebrows when the Wolves team was announced at 11am on Sunday morning, but there needn’t have been any concerns. Ruben Neves came to the fore alongside the typically energetic Leander Dendoncker and produced a midfield masterclass at sunny Molineux. The Portuguese’s stats speak for themselves, dominating everyone else on the pitch on a whole range of figures.
Nobody completed more passes than Neves with 82, whilst his 11 ball recoveries and seven tackles attempted were also a match high. His three chances created wasn’t beaten either, with one being converted into an assist when Diogo Jota fired home the third. Yet again, Neves touched the ball more than anyone else, 102 times, while his passing accuracy was an impressive 89 percent throughout the 90 minutes. A truly unbelievable performance and Wolves will need more of the same as the season continues to intensify.
5. A big and significant win
Sunday’s victory saw Wolves enter the history books as the first English side to win competitive games in two different Julys in the same season, such has been the unpredictable schedule of the 2019/20 season. The win came on the same day Leicester and Arsenal, two teams either side of Wolves, were beaten, and a day after Chelsea’s loss at Bramall Lane. All these results have simply tightened up the top half of the Premier League further, meaning it’s all to play for with three games remaining. This mid-week, when Wolves face Burnley, Leicester and Sheffield United meet, while Arsenal face Liverpool, meaning points will be dropped somewhere in the top half.