Manchester City welcome Wolves to the Etihad Stadium on Sunday as they look to further cut Arsenal’s lead at the top of the Premier League. The blues returned to winning ways on Thursday with a stunning comeback from 2-0 down against Spurs to win 4-2, and face another tough challenge in the shape of Wolves.
The pair have had some good tussles over the years, with the blues losing just one of their last ten meetings. But Wolves are fighting for their Premier League lives, with only two points separating them from the bottom three.
What has happened to Wolves? Just three years ago, they finished 7th in the league, a position that would have seen them qualify for the Europa League. Since then, they have continued to slide down the table and now face a relegation tussle.
Wolves are 16th in the league, just two places from the drop zone, but, with the three teams at the bottom all on 15 points, if all three were to win and Wolves lose, they would be bottom by the end of the weekend. The only saving grace is that two of those teams, West Ham and Everton, face each other today, but they can still find themselves in deep trouble.
The visitors have won just four Premier League matches this season, and their only away win to date was a 2-1 win at Everton on Boxing Day. From 9 away matches, they have lost five, scored six goals and conceded 13.
Ones to watch
Wolves still have the players that can be a huge threat to City’s defence and the blues will have to watch Daniel Podence. The Portuguese left winger is Wolves top scorer this season with five goals in all competitions. His fellow countryman, Ruben Neves, has hit four and Raul Jimenez, who was sent off in this fixture last season, has three.
From Wolves regular starters, Podence has the best goal conversion rate with 22%. His minutes per goal average is 288, the second lowest after Jimenez, who has 192. If the figures follow a trend, then City should be safe from his threat – Podence last scored in the 1-0 win at home to West Ham and has only played 26 minutes since, so we’re good for another 262 minutes.
Wolves have scored just 18 goals this season in the league so assists are low. Six have been provided by Hwang Hee-chan, Nélson Semedo and João Moutinho, who have two apiece. Of the three Moutinho is the most dangerous. He has attempted 960 passes, the most in the Wolves team, with 823 completed and a pass accuracy of 86%. The Portuguese star has created 31 chances, while Hwang has created seven and Semedo Six.
Who’s the boss?
Julen Lopetegui is the man charged with changing Wolves’ fortunes. Appointed in November, former Spain, Real Madrid and Sevilla boss Lopetegui had to wait until after the World Cup to take charge. His first match saw Wolves beat Gillingham 2-0 in the League Cup, then they won 2-1 at Everton on his Premier League debut.
Lopetegui has presided over eight matches for Wolves, winning three and losing two, giving him a win ratio of 37.5%.
Last time out
City beat Wolves 3-0 when the team met in the first fixture in September. Jack Grealish scored in the first minute and Erling Haaland doubled on 16. Phil Foden completed the scoring in the 69th minute.
Last time at the Etihad Stadium, City edged past Wolves thanks to a fortuitous and controversial second-half penalty from Raheem Sterling. Jimenez was sent off before half-time after receiving two bookings within a minute.