WOLVES KNOW THE WINS WILL COME. THE XG AND FINISHING BEGS TO DIFFER AS BRUNO LAGE KNOWS HE NEEDS TO DELIVER

have started the season in a pretty deflating fashion under new boss Bruno Lage. Three consecutive 1-0 losses have condemned Wolves to 18th place and though there is plenty of time left, one cannot help but wonder what if.

 

 

The fact that they have played some fluid, attacking football without scoring has certainly brought out the “xG” jokes. Indeed, Wolves have created the highest xG amongst all the teams so far (4.3) without netting a goal.

 

DOMINATING MATCHES

In their most recent match against Manchester United, the home side outplayed the Red Devils across all departments. 15 shots to 10, 10 chances to eight, six SoT to three and an xG of 1.80 to 0.94. Wolves could have been 2-0 up inside six minutes such was their dominance in midfield.

 

 

The most interesting thing about all of it is that they have played like this in all of their matches. Against and , they had a combined 42 shots with an xG of 2.84. From all of this, it is clear that finishing has been an issue with the team. Furthermore, it makes for stark reading as their opponents combined have had an xG of 2.9.

 

 

The attacking trio Adama Traore, Raul Jimenez, and Trincao have been causing havoc for opposition defences. They have added striker Hwang Hee-Chan from RB Leipzig on loan who is sure to add some goals as well. The underlying theme of their matches so far has been exciting, if disheartening.

 

 

Football sees goals and that is where Lage’s men have been lacking. Traore was imperious against United, completing the most duels and creating the most chances. That continued his theme of being almost unplayable this season. Through a combination of last-ditch defending and supreme goalkeeping, they were denied their much deserved breakthrough.

 

 

His usage of 3-4-3 employs a very high press along with fast breaks which can be seen as the best resort against the big teams. Despite getting into clear goal-scoring positions many times over, they have squandered those chances. They have outshot their opponents by 21 yet only 24.6% of those have been on target, a worrying sign.

 

 

Last season, Brighton & Hove Albion had the undesirable moniker of aggregating the most xG as opposed to goals scored. This campaign looks like it could be Wolves and Lage, if he does stick around for the end.

 

OFF-COLOUR PLAYERS

Lage has mirrored the start that Frank de Boer had during his time as Crystal Palace manager and everyone knows how that went. He has also not been helped by some of his players not recapturing their previous form.

 

 

Jimenez returned in time for the season opener after his skull fracture last season and has looked shorn of his supreme prowess in front of goal. He has only 1/12 shot on target across three matches which indicate more game-time will be needed in order to get up to speed. Traore has looked the most likely to score or create something, using his pace and strength to great effect.

 

 

In fact, he was one of the most active players on the pitch across all three games. However, his one Achilles heel- finishing has let him down time and again. One of the most consistent performers from last year, Pedro Neto has also been laid low with an injury which has robbed them of an experienced forward.

 

 

Trincao has managed well but between him and Fabio Silva, they will need more first term matches in order to hone their skills. Lage has also not chosen to use Willy Boly in the centre of the defence so far, persisting with Max Kilman who has only had one regular-ish season last campaign. The team as a whole needs to step up their game in defence as they did look vulnerable last time even though they were on top for most parts.

 

MATTER OF TIME

There is little doubt that Wolves will end their goal drought sooner than later given the number of chances they are racking up. They have out-shot their opponents in every match and were it not for some wasteful finishing, they would easily have been much further up the table.

 

 

No player in the team has a positive xG so far with only one having more than one. Chang will surely be heavily relied upon to improve the lagging stats but Lage knows he has to turn around fortunes quickly. Wolves have been solid performers under Nuno Espirito Santo and following those footsteps are never easy. However, he has most of the tools needed to succeed and will hope they pay off soon.

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