In a season that began over a year ago, Wolves once again added to their growing reputation as a team to fear as well as admire. Espírito Santo’s side finished a solid seventh for the second consecutive season to silence the original doubters; doubters who once bellowed that Wolves stood no chance in balancing Europa League progression alongside Premier League solidity.
Those that once bellowed, however, now sit back and admire a Wolves side bettering the likes of Arsenal and Everton while progressing into the knock out rounds of the Europa League. In their second season back in the top flight, Wolves captured the imagination of fans, while pulling off results that are becoming all too ordinary to be classed as upsets. Overall, it has been another successful season.
Double Delight Against the Former Champions
Last season, Wolves’ reintroduction to the Premier League should have provided plenty with warning signs of their growing capabilities. However, in the space of two fatal months, Manchester City learned the hard way not once, but twice, when underestimating Espírito Santo’s side.
Guardiola’s side welcomed Wolves to the Etihad in need of a comfortable night after already falling behind in the title race to a flying Liverpool side. Yet, as City have learned this season, never expect a comfortable night against Wolves- especially with Adama Traoré on the pitch.
The Spanish winger linked up with Raúl Jiménez, in what has become a consistent feature in the Wolves side, to seal the upset at the Etihad with an unforgettable brace in the last 10 minutes.
Both were cool, calm and collected finishes that highlighted Traoré’s crucial end product improvement. Wolves had mauled City’s title defence; Traoré proved naysayers wrong and Jiménez continued his pursuit to be recognised as one of the best forwards in the league. It was the perfect day for Wolves, one they didn’t think could possibly be bettered. Well, think again.
Beat the champions once, and people take a quick glimpse; beat them twice, though, and people begin to sit up and take notice. And, in December, just two months after the victory at the Etihad, people were once again watching on as Wolves dismantled City’s title credentials. October’s defeat harmed City’s title defence; December’s finished it.
A Night to Remember for the Wolves Season at Molineux
Ask a Wolves fan to sum up their side using a result, and December’s victory will be the answer that follows. The result epitomised what Espírito Santo has built at the Molineux; a side with grit, attacking talent, free-flowing football and the ability to take the occasional seat at the big table.
The game, labelled as the chance for revenge by Sky Sports, began in that fashion.
Despite the early red card to Ederson, Guardiola’s side burst into a comfortable 2-0 lead courtesy of a Raheem Sterling brace. Usually, in this situation, most sides crumble; the end score becomes embarrassing, and Manchester City show their ruthlessness. Not on this occasion, however.
On this occasion, Wolves went against the norm in a stunning second-half display to expose City’s weakness for all to see. Traoré hit the first, almost giving Guardiola flashbacks of an October nightmare; Jiménez then levelled to send Molineux into delirium and send City back to that fatal night.
A draw, from two goals down, would have been lauded by those now sitting wide-eyed at Santo’s side. But, a win would have confirmed Wolves’ battle for a place amongst the big boys. And, after Doherty’s goal with just minutes left to play, Wolves rightfully pulled up a chair to the table of the big six.
The win was one of the games of the season, and all but ended City’s title hopes before ‘happy new year’ could even be cheered.
As for Wolves, a Christmas comeback will be seen as the game of a season full of enticing affairs and victories throughout. It was a stunning comeback which summed up one of the most entertaining sides in the league.
Player of the Season
When thinking of standout players in Wolves’ season, two names instantly come to mind. Raúl Jiménez and Adama Traoré. The two have combined to create a deadly duo this season, full of pace, power, technical class and clinical finishing.
Traoré, the powerhouse of the two, is like no other player in the league. His pace, like an Olympic sprinter; power like a body builder’s; technical ability, growing significantly. The only way to stop him has been through force this season.
Jiménez, often the benefactor or provider to Traoré, deserves credit, too. The Mexican is one of the most technically gifted forwards in the Premier League.
He plays the role of goalscorer and creator simultaneously in this Wolves side, and is often at the centre of their success. The Mexican is the lynchpin that holds his side together perfectly. With 37 goal involvements, too, it’s difficult to look past Jiménez as the Wolves player of the season.
Moments to Forget
The Wolves season has been full of many memorable moments, but this does not mean moments to forget haven’t occurred. Post lockdown results, in particular, proved to be their ultimate downfall in a season-long dream of Champions League qualification.
Losses to Arsenal and Chelsea proved fatal in the end as Wolves were forced to settle for a place in next season’s second qualifying round of the Europa League. A loss at the death to Sheffield United also did significant damage.
The dream of Champions League football became a reachable reality for some time and, but for their inconsistencies, Wolves would have been in the draw ahead of next season.
Although, it must be said, Wolves did not look out of place when battling for a position alongside side Manchester United, Chelsea and Leicester– giving Espírito Santo hope for further improvement next season.
What to Expect From Wolves Next Season
Ahead of next season, Nuno Espírito Santo will hope to keep hold of current stars and, after coming close in the campaign just gone, take a permanent place in the Premier League’s top six. Further progression in Europe will also be a target for Wolves next season. They crashed out to Sevilla in the quarter-finals in the season just gone, but provided us all with plenty of entertainment along the way of their European tour.
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