Bournemouth v Wolves: Nuno & Co bid to pick up where they left off
On the back of the international break – where a few got to rest – it is back to the grind for Wolves.
Tomorrow’s trip to Dorset to take on Bournemouth is the first of 10 games before the end of the year for Nuno Espirito Santo’s side, writes Joe Edwards.
They have played 24 games in all competitions so far, and things are not going to let up any time soon.
But Nuno & Co are not going into this clash with Eddie Howe’s charges feeling weary.
They are heading into it with a great deal of confidence – and a continued desire to get better.
“There’s more to come from everybody,” said Nuno. “There’s more to come. We still have a lot of space for improvement.”
You cannot help but feel encouraged by those words as Wolves have been doing very well over the past several weeks.
They are on a seven-game unbeaten run in the Premier League and players all over the pitch have shone.
Raul Jimenez just cannot stop scoring, Adama Traore has been tearing defences apart with his speed and skill, Rui Patricio has been a safe pair of hands, Ruben Neves has started making an impact in the final third again, Leander Dendoncker has seamlessly slotted into defence. You could go on for ages.
Nuno has gone back to the 3-4-3 and things have clicked.
A little more ruthlessness in front of goal would not go amiss but, on the whole, things have been going swimmingly.
Romain Saiss is another player who has done a stellar job recently, filling in on the left side of defence in the absence of injured stopper Willy Boly – and looking so assured.
The Moroccan is one of a large group – Jimenez, Patricio, Neves, Dendoncker, Matt Doherty, Joao Moutinho, Diogo Jota and Patrick Cutrone the others – who have just been away with their countries.
Pedro Neto and Ruben Vinagre went away with Portugal Under-21s too, but pulled out with slight knocks.
Saiss, though, is embracing the challenge of playing so many matches.
After Bournemouth, Wolves travel to Braga to face them in the Europa League next Thursday, before facing Sheffield United at home on the Sunday.
And Saiss cannot wait for all those tests. After all, it is better than training.
“We have a lot of games now, but we play football for these kinds of games and it is better than training,” said Saiss.
“We are ready for it, we work a lot with the coach and with the physical trainers to be ready.
“We have to prepare well for all competitions, it is tough because we have a lot of games, but it is a good thing.”
Bournemouth come into the encounter after beating Manchester United the last time out on home soil – before losing 2-1 at Newcastle.
They are on the same amount of points as Wolves – 16.
Nuno’s charges are eighth with a goal difference of one, and Howe’s ninth with a goal difference of zero.
Ryan Fraser is expected to feature for the Cherries despite a knee knock.
Josh King, though, is set to to miss out with a hamstring strain.
David Brooks, Andrew Surman, Charlie Daniels and Junior Stanislas will not be involved either because of injury.
Traore is thought to be recovering well from a hamstring problem picked up in the win against former club Villa, which saw him pull out of Spain duty – on the back of his first call-up, after interest from Mali too.
Nuno will also be running the rule over Morgan Gibbs-White, who has missed the last few games with a back issue, and assessing Portuguese pair Neto and Vinagre after their early returns to Compton.
Wolves likely line-up: Patricio; Dendoncker, Coady, Saiss; Doherty, Moutinho, Neves, Otto; Traore, Jimenez, Jota