Wolves debrief: Duo stake a claim as goals finally flow

After two impressive performances in the Premier League – but two losses – Wolves have finally hit the mark.

Nottingham Forest goalkeeper Ethan Horvath (right) and Wolverhampton Wanderers' Daniel Podence
Nottingham Forest goalkeeper Ethan Horvath (right) and Wolverhampton Wanderers' Daniel Podence

It was only a matter of time before they put a team to the sword, after taking on a more attacking and entertaining style that should have seen them earn something against both Leicester and Spurs.

But it has finally come together in the form of Tuesday's 4-0 thrashing of Nottingham Forest in the Carabao Cup – and a few names caught the eye.

Ait-Nouri dilemma

Rayan Ait-Nouri has surely given Bruno Lage a headache after putting in a superb performance at the City Ground.

The Frenchman has found himself benched in the Premier League so far, with Fernando Marcal preferred ahead of him at left-wing-back.

And Marcal has deserved it too, after a brilliant pre-season that has proven him to be a sturdy and reliable defender.

But Ait-Nouri shone against Forest and, particularly in the first half, was causing their defence all sorts of problems. He had acres of space to run into and attacked it directly, taking players on and creating chances.

Both Ait-Nouri and Marcal have something to offer and are very different. Marcal is defensively sound and an aggressive tackler – probably more suited to left-back or the back three too – while Ait-Nouri is a brilliant attacking force in those wide areas. He could even be an option at left wing if they change to 4-4-2.

Either way, the 20-year-old has given Lage a dilemma and offered his name up as a potential starter against Manchester United on Sunday.

Perhaps that game will not suit him, but against teams where Wolves will dominate the ball Ait-Nouri would be the perfect option.

Adapting to the system

A lot was made in pre-season about how quickly the Wolves players would adapt to Lage's style, which is certainly different to what they are used to at Molineux.

It is true to say that Lage still needs time and transfer windows to mould this team in his own identity, but it is also remarkable how the same group of players that produced dull football last year under Nuno Espirito Santo are now thriving in an attacking and entertaining style.

Or is it remarkable? The modern footballer is intelligent and incredibly athletic. In reality, they should adapt fairly quickly.

Nowadays it is more about the attitude and application of the footballer. They have had to transition from a successful period under a hugely popular manager in Nuno and fully embrace a new challenge under Lage.

And they seem to be embracing it with open arms. Lage has the players on-board.

Potent Podence

It was a surprise to see Daniel Podence make the squad against Forest, having recently returned to training following rehabilitation from surgery to fix a groin issue.

But not only did he return, he started – and he was arguably man-of-the-match.

The winger looked sharp throughout his 66 minutes on the field and was a constant thorn in Forest's side.

Some neat flicks were impressive, while his runs in behind and close control saw him narrowly miss a handful of chances in the first half.

His goal eventually came in the second half and it was taken exceptionally calmly. He deserved it.

Now, he adds a much-needed new dimension to the attacking options at Wolves as they once again tackle the Premier League.

Lage consistently talks about wanting competition and Podence's return certainly adds that.

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