Banner image

Author

James Crawley

James Crawley writes

Posted Friday, December 29th 2017

Big Match Preview: Wolves

City return to the Gate for their final outing of 2017 as they go head to head with the league leaders, Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Second-placed City can bridge the gap on high-flying Wolves in what should be a cracking game between two in-form teams.

City are on a seven-game unbeaten streak, while Wolves have not lost since October - a run of 10 matches without defeat.

FACTFILE

Formed: 1877
Nickname: Wolves, Wanderers
Website: www.wolves.co.uk
Twitter: @Wolves
Ground: Molineux Stadium
Capacity: 31,700

Honours:
First Division winners (Premier League) - 1953/54. 1957/58, 1958/59
Second Division winners (Championship) – 1931/32, 1976/77, 2008/09
Third Division winners (L1) – 1988/89, 2013/14
Fourth Division winners (L2) - 1987/88

Last season:

Championship: 15th
FA Cup: 5th round, lost to Chelsea
EFL Cup: 3rd round, lost to Newcastle United
Top scorer: Helder Costa, 12 goals.
Average attendance: 21,570

HOW DID THEY GET HERE?

Championship table toppers Wolves are showing no signs of slowing down in their bid to gain promotion to the Premier League.

They have enjoyed a two-month unbeaten run in the build up to Christmas, setting themselves up nicely for a promising 2018.

Striker Leo Bonatini has been firing on all cylinders, while defensively they have kept the most clean sheets in the division this season.

It’s exciting times for Nuno Espirito Santo’s outfit from the West Midlands, who are seeking a return to the big time after six seasons away.

But Lee Johnson’s side have been one of only a handful of sides to take points from the Wanderers this season. The clubs drew 3-3 earlier in the year and the Robins have every chance of making it three points in front of their own home crowd this time around.

Historically, Wolves have championed each of England’s top four divisions and have won both the FA Cup and League Cup competitions multiple times.

Wolves boss, Nuno Espirito Santo

MEET THE GAFFER - NUNO ESPIRITO SANTO

The Wolves boss may be new to management in English football but you wouldn’t know it, considering how he has guided them to top of the tree after only months in charge.

A fresh face at the Molineux, Nuno (as he was simply known in his playing days) is a former goalkeeper who was part of the Porto squad which won the UEFA Champions League in 2004 under Jose Mourinho.

He spent much of the 90s and early noughties playing in Spain before playing minimal first-team football at Porto. He went on to sign for Dynamo Moscow and Aves before re-joining the Portuguese side in 2007.

His management career began five years ago and has involved stints at Valencia and Porto, before he arrived to take over at Wolves in May.

How will Bonatini fare against City's defence?

STAR MAN - LEO BONATINI

The loaned-in striker has hit the ground running in the Championship this season, being the club’s top goalscorer.

Contracted to Saudi Arabian side Al-Hilal, Bonatini, 23, spent a year-and-a-half on loan at Estoril of the Portuguese Liga. There he scored an impressive average of one goal in every two games, which caught the eye of Wolves scouts.

He has continued to match that fine form this season.

Hutchinson scores City second against Wolves

MEMORABLE FIXTURE - BRISTOL CITY 3-0 Wolves

Division Three, Saturday October 26th 1985.

Goals: Riley, Hutchinson, Walsh.

Wolves displayed one of their worst Ashton Gate performances as they were easily beaten 3-0 by City, although it could have been a lot more.

The hosts raced into an early lead courtesy of Glyn Riley, with Bobby Hutchinson doubling the lead five minutes before half-time. Alan Walsh chipped in with the third from the penalty spot after Steve Neville was floored by Nicky Clarke.

City: Waugh, Llewellyn, Newman, Curle, Rogers, Riley, Pritchard, Hutchinson, Tong, Walsh, Neville.

Wolves: Barrett, Herbert, Barnes, Streete, Clarke, Stoutt, Purdie, Ryan, Ainscow, King, Wasell.

AND FINALLY...

Officials
Referee: Peter Bankes
Assistant Referees: Daniel Leach and Darren Blunden
Fourth Official: Andy Davies

Betting (via SkyBet)
City 21/10
Draw 23/10
Wolves 13/10