Wolves will be aiming to make it three Premier League wins in succession when Nuno Espirito Santo’s side invite Burnley to Molineux on Sunday lunchtime, but here are five things to know ahead of the noon kick-off.
1. PUTTING A RUN TOGETHER
Having gone the entirety of March without a win, Wolves have picked up their form in recent weeks, going two-and-a-half matches without conceding a goal. The 3-1 first-half deficit to West Ham United at the start of April has kicked things into gear at the back for Nuno’s men, leading to a much tighter second-half against the Hammers, before clean sheets versus both Fulham and Sheffield United in the previous two matches.
Although with a tighter defence, it has meant that goals have been difficult to come by at the opposite end of the pitch – which wasn’t helped by the injury to Pedro Neto inside the first 30 minutes at Craven Cottage – but Adama Traore and Willian Jose’s singular goals were enough to secure the six points from those two games, and put Wolves in a position where they can make it three wins in a row for the first time in the 2020/21 Premier League season.
2. OFF THE MARK FOR THE SEASON
Those past three games have also been significant in the goals front, not only by helping to secure six points to push Wolves back up to 12th in the table, but they have also allowed Leander Dendoncker, Traore and Jose to get off the mark for the season. Before April, Dendoncker and Traore were in the top five players in the league who had had the most attempts on goal without finding the back of the net – or creating an assist.
But Traore put that to bed by setting up the Belgian for his header against the Hammers, before smashing in a goal of his own at Fulham to snatch the points late on. Jose had thought he’d got his first of the campaign earlier on in that match (had it not been for Daniel Podence’s apparently massive sleeves being offside!) but didn’t wait much longer to get his gold and black tally underway, by netting the only goal against the Blades last time out. Nuno will be hoping those goals will have brought the confidence back into his players and the floodgates to be opened as we enter the final six matches of the season.
3. BURNLEY’S DEADLY DUO
Although it’s been a season of fighting from the drop for Burnley, who only picked up one point from their opening six matches, Sean Dyche’s men have picked up good results in spells throughout the campaign, to pull themselves out of the bottom three, with their six point advantage – and a game in hand – over Fulham in 18th seeing them safe for the time being.
But if they are to cement their place in the top-flight for next season, the Clarets are relying on the attacking duo of former West Bromwich Albion pair Chris Wood and Matej Vydra. When the former set up the later for the opening goal against Newcastle United a fortnight ago, it was the pair’s sixth goal combination in five matches and showed the relationship they are forging up front. Only Fulham and Sheffield United have scored fewer goals than Burnley this season, so their form heading into the closing stages of the season will be a huge boost to Dyche.
4. TIME FOR CHANGES?
Dyche switched to a five man midfield against Manchester United last weekend, but is expected to revert to his usual 4-4-2 for the visit to Molineux on Sunday, with Vydra likely to come back into the team to restart his partnership with Wood, while Nick Pope remains a doubt between the sticks, so Bailey Peacock-Farrell continues to be on standby, and former Wolves keeper Will Norris is also an option for the Clarets.
Willy Boly slotted right back into the defence last weekend following his return from Covid-19 isolation, but Nuno confirmed Ruben Neves will continue to be out having missed the win over Sheffield United through his own positive test. With Premier League safety all but guaranteed for Wolves, Nuno could be tempted into making a few changes to those usual faces in the starting 11, with youngsters such as Maximilian Kilman, Owen Otasowie, Vitinha, Morgan Gibbs-White and Fabio Silva all hoping for a place from the start.
5. LIVE ON THE BBC
It’s quite fitting that with all the talk of a European Super League that has gone on this week that two founder members of the Football League will be going head-to-head live on the British Broadcasting Corporation. For the first time this season, our game against one of our fellow 12 originals will be broadcast live on BBC One from 11.45am.
But it’s not the first time Wolves and Burnley have faced off on the BBC, with last season’s fixture at Turf Moor being Wolves’ first Premier League game selected for terrestrial TV as Nuno’s men had successive European qualification snatched from their grasps due to a 96th minute penalty in July. But as always, those of you who want more in-depth analysis can tune in to Matchday Live Extra with Mikey Burrows and Andy Thompson – and their great line-up of pundits – from 11.15am on YouTube and Wolves TV.