Wolves showed heart, belief and a will to win in their 2-1 victory over Arsenal on Sunday evening, according to Nuno Espirito Santo, despite the loss of star striker Raul Jimenez after just five minutes.
But here are five things we spotted after Wolves picked up their first ever three points at the Emirates.
Raul Jimenez’s injury sent shivers down the spine of anyone watching Sunday evening’s match, and the fractured skull that he suffered from his accidental collision with David Luiz saw an outpouring of support for the Mexican from across the footballing world. Supporters can send their own personal message to Raul here: https://bit.ly/FuerzaRaul
Wolves supporters also began a fundraising page to create a banner to be displayed in the Steve Bull Stand to show their support for Raul during his period of recovery, with the fundraising page reaching its target in a matter of hours. While on Monday, Raul posted some good news on social media as he thanked everyone for their messages and said he hopes to ‘return to the pitch soon’.
2. BEST OPENING SINCE 1979
Many ‘experts’ claimed Wolves have had a stuttering start to the 2020/21 season, with Nuno’s men sitting in 11th position ahead of their visit to the Emirates on Sunday night, yet the stats don’t lie, and the first quarter of the current campaign has seen Wolves amass 17 points – their most after the first 10 games of a top-flight season since 1979/20, when John Barnwell’s side took an average of two points per game (adjusting to three points for a win).
With this victory, Wolves also secured their first win away at the Gunners since that very same season. Pedro Neto and Daniel Podence were the scorers for the visitors on Sunday night, but it was Kenny Hibbitt and a pair of strikes from Andy Gray who secured a 3-2 win at Highbury back in September 1979.
3. ‘FOUR AT THE BACK AND FOUR IN ATTACK’
Having switched to a 4-3-3 formation against Southampton last week, Nuno went even more attacking with the change in system for the visit to the Emirates, utilising a 4-2-3-1 to allow his team to include the prowess of four attacking players in Jimenez (and then Fabio Silva), Neto, Podence and Adama Traore. While Conor Coady also got his first chance to play as one of the centre-halves in a back four, with the England man showcasing that he is not just a ‘back three’ defender in a terrific performance alongside Willy Boly.
Wolves attacking threat was on display straight from the outset, with the foursome linking up brilliantly for both first-half goals. Goalscorers Podence and Neto were the pick of the bunch, but it was the latter who was awarded the man of the match award after his incessant running and breathtaking statistics – including completing 100 per cent of his passes in the opposition half – to go alongside his opener.
4. WINNING FOR RAUL
In their post-match interviews, Nuno, Coady and Neto all insisted that they were able to show fighting spirit to put Arsenal to the sword because of the will to win for Jimenez. After seeing their talismatic striker and friend suffer a horrendous injury and having to be taken to hospital, it wouldn’t have been a surprise to see the Wolves players fold under the circumstances – but it wasn’t to be.
Instead, Wolves were galvanised and put in – statistically – their best first-half performance since returning to the Premier League in 2018. However, football paled into significance compared to the concern for Raul, with everyone wishing him the best in his road to recovery.
It’s horrible to see with not just one of your teammates, but one of your friends. He’s with the right people, but we just hope and pray that everything’s OK, because he’s the one we’re thinking about right now.
5. ROAD WARRIORS
2020 has been a strange and difficult year for everyone, and with Premier League football continuing behind closed doors without supporters, many teams have lost their ‘home advantage’, with Wolves one of the teams to capitalise on a lack of supporters at visiting grounds.
Since the start of the year, only Manchester United have won more top-flight fixtures away from home than Wolves’ seven, with Nuno’s side also winning six of their matches at Molineux, while Liverpool, Manchester City and Southampton have also taken seven wins on the road.