Historical Transfer News and Team Gossip has been archived below:
Freshly relegated Wolves have had a nightmare of a season last year with the club achieving its worst points total for many years due to the sides inability to cope with life in England`s top flight. Manager Stale Solbakken has now set about rebuilding his side for a quick return to the premier league and the club are now in talks with many clubs regarding possible new additions to their squad.
One of the first targets on the clubs radar is Norwegian international Vadim Demidov after the player became available to sign from his current club Real Sociedad where he has been struggling to cement a place in the first team squad. Manager Solbakken is said to be extremely keen on the player and feels he would fit in perfectly at Molineux so talks continue with the club hoping to sign a deal for their man within the next forty eight hours.
A player who may find his way out of Molineux this summer is winger Michael Kightly after the player has had a nightmare two seasons after a series of crippling injuries which have left him out of action for many months during this time. The player who is coming up to the last year of his current contract is the target of many clubs and Solbakken is now set to cash in on his player before he is able to walk for free at the end of next season.
Peterborough have today completed the signing of former Wolves player Nathaniel Mendez-Laing after the winger had been on their radar for some time after leaving the Posh outfit in 2010. A three year deal which is thought to be valued at two million pounds has now been completed and the exciting winger will now be applying his trade for Peterborough next season.
QUIZ: The Wolves Transfer Conundrum Wolves have taken to the Premier League like a duck to water and are arguably one of the top eight clubs in the country right now, if not the top six. The incredible work in the transfer market, ably assisted by Jorge Mendes’ client list, has seen Nuno Espírito Santo create an exciting, vibrant team […]
Completing this transfer deal would be a bad move for Wolves – Opinion For Wolves, this season has been a very promising one as they currently sit sixth in the Premier League table, three points from a potential place in the Champions League. For their latest target however, it’s been rather the opposite. According to reports from Turkey (via Daily Mail), the Midlands side could be bringing Liverpool’s […]
Opinion: Wolves' reported transfer agreement makes little sense Wolverhampton Wanderers have agreed a loan deal for Liverpool goalkeeper Loris Karius, according to reports in Turkey. What does the report say? Karius has spent the last two seasons on loan at Besiktas, but appears keen on a return to England this summer. The German is contracted at Liverpool until 2021 and is now being […]
Raúl Jiménez should pick Wolves even if Premier League giants do come calling – Opinion Wolves’ Raul Jimenez has been linked to moves away from the Midlands since January, with three major Premier League sides keen on acquiring his services. According to ESPN, both Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur are reportedly interested in the Mexican striker, who currently has a market value of £36million (£45m prior to the halted season). Manchester […]
We’re in the final stretch of the 2019-20 Premier League season, with just five more gameweeks remaining in the season. The top two positions and the bottom position in the league seems to be confirmed, but the competition is intense and close from third all the way to 19th. Spots for Europe as well as the relegation zone is still undecided, and we will learn more about which sides will finish where in Match week 33. Battle of the underdogs for top 10 position Two of the underdogs of this year’s Premier League campaign are Sheffield United and Burnley. The
Liverpool’s long-awaited Premier League title was finally confirmed on Thursday night following Manchester City’s loss to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. The Reds had, earlier in the week, comfortably cruised to a 4-0 win over Crystal Palace. Jurgen Klopp’s men have had an incredible season and the Liverpool manager has finally delivered what the club’s fans have been dreaming about for years. While the Premier League title is done and dusted, the relegation battle, as well as the European spots, are still undecided. Let’s take a look at the 5 talking points from Premier League Matchweek 31 Manchester City defence to
Real Madrid midfielder Dani Ceballos, who is currently on loan at Arsenal, does not have a future at the Spanish club, while the Gunners are also reluctant to sign him on a permanent deal. According to Marca, if current Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane stays at the club, Dani Ceballos will have to look elsewhere for regular game time. The report further states that Ceballos’ reputation in Europe is strong and that he won’t have a problem finding a new club in the summer. According to the same report, Spanish side Valencia are interested in signing him. Which Premier League clubs
Wolves extended their unbeaten run in the Premier League to seven games on Wednesday following their 1-0 win over relegation-threatened Bournemouth at the Molineux Stadium. Back-to-back victories after the resumption must have boosted their morale and in all honesty, Wolves are in no mood to rest. Nuno Espirito Santo’s men are just five points behind fourth-placed Chelsea and they are scheduled to face Aston Villa tomorrow at the Villa Park. Dean Smith’s side are in all sorts of trouble and the axe of relegation is hovering over them, which is why Wolves must be backing themselves to secure all three
Saka celebrates new contract with a goal as Arsenal earn 2-0 win over Wolves Bukayo Saka netted his first Premier League goal as Arsenal continued their recent mini-revival with a 2-0 win over Champions League chasing Wolves. Wolves came into this weekend’s fixtures just three points behind the top four places, having earned plenty of plaudits for their well-drilled, impressive brand of football under Nuno Espirito Santo, while Arsenal …
Five of the worst football ads ever: Owen, Rooney and Venkys chicken Every business out there wants to be associated with a successful football club or player to get more attention for their brand, but it doesn’t always work out so well. In some cases, the resultant advertisements and endorsements are just downright awful. Marketing agencies should learn from these lousy examples. Liverpool bring Paisley back from …
Fantasy Premier League GW33+: Three must-buy midfielders for your team this week With the Fantasy Premier League season coming into the final six games, it’s extremely important to get your transfers right ahead of gameweek 33+. Here are the three cheap midfielders we think are must-have in your FPL team: Phil Foden, Man City – £5.3 The moment Philip Walter Foden turned 20, he immediately found his …
The best Premier League stats of gameweek 32: Bruno’s brilliance, Awesome Auba, lacking Lampard Presenting some of the standout statistics from gameweek 32 of Premier League action, featuring Bruno Fernandes’ fantastic form, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s ridiculous goal scoring record for Arsenal, Frank Lampard’s faltering Chelsea, Southampton’s joy on the road and Liverpool’s recent lack of it. Bruno does it again Another week, another Bruno Fernandes masterclass, as the Portuguese playmaker …
Revisiting the 1999/2000 Premier League Team of the Year The new millennium saw Manchester United continue their dominance of English football and the Premier League era, Sir Alex Ferguson’s side winning a sixth title in just eight seasons since the launch of the rebranded division. Elsewhere the 1999/2000 campaign saw surprise package Sunderland thrive on the back of the goalscoring form of Kevin Phillips, …
Why Wolves should renew their interest in Danny Loader According to Birmingham Mail, Wolves’ target Danny Loader left Reading last Tuesday after turning down a contract extension with the Championship club. The 19-year-old striker started just once in the league this season, with six more appearances coming as a substitute. A highly-rated finisher, Loader was […] More
Why Wolves signing Oscar Rodriguez would be fantastic for the future As per Mundo Deportivo (h/t Birmingham Mail), Wolves are interested in signing Real Madrid midfielder Oscar Rodriguez in the summer. He is currently on a two-year loan deal with CD Leganes and the report suggests that Wolves could sign him for a cut-price fee […] More
Why Wolves should revive their interest in Matija Sarkic According to Birmingham Mail, Aston Villa have confirmed that Wolves target Matija Sarkic, will leave the club at the end of the season. Premier League strugglers Aston Villa announced recently that they will not renew the contract of 22-year-old goalkeeper Sarkic, whose current deal at Villa […] More
Why Wolves handing a new contract to Nuno Espirito Santo is a step in the right direction According to The Guardian, Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo has agreed to open contract talks with the club in the near future. Nuno, 46, started as a goalkeeping coach before taking over the reins at Rio Ave FC, […] More
Predicted Wolves XI to face Bournemouth in the Premier League Wolves are on the run for another European finish this season and are still alive in the Europa League that is to be played later in August. Wolves are currently 6th in the table, level on points with 5th-placed Manchester United. A win against Bournemouth […] More
Why Manchester United signing Adama Traore would be a terrific move by the club According to Le10 Sport (h/t Express), Manchester United have joined the race to sign Wolves star Adama Traore in the upcoming transfer window. The winger has been in great form for Wolves and has scored 6 and 10 assists across all […] More
Nuno Espirito Santo is philosophical in defeat. “The first half was balanced, there were not too many chances, with the exception of one moment when we lost a bit of focus and Arsenal scored. In the second half we started better, with more pressing, creating chances. But as the game goes by, Arsenal became dangerous on the counter attack. It was not one of our best games, but the work was there, and let’s go for the next one. Mistakes happen, we have to solve it. We have to bounce back and reinvent ourselves. Back to our clean sheet and our process!”
Bukayo Saka, who so calmly steered home a fine goal today, talks to Sky. “It’s very big. We know how good Wolves are. We knew it was going to be tough and we fought for everything. We’re just so delighted to get the win and build some momentum. You can see what the manager’s building, we’re really delighted with the results we’re getting and that I can tie down my future here. It’s been a great week! We fought for each other, together, it feels like we’re more together. I’m 18, this is my dream, and anywhere the boss wants to put me, I’ll play!”
Arsenal move up to seventh (49pts) as a result of that victory. They’re still three points behind Wolves (52pts) who remain in sixth. Wolves can have no complaints about that result. They were ground down by the Gunners, who were initially resolute then increasingly attack-minded, an impressive all-round display. It’s slowly coming together under Mikel Arteta. The tussle between Leicester City, Manchester United, Chelsea, Wolves and Arsenal for the remaining two (maybe three) Champions League spots on offer promises to be quite the show.
That was ultimately a very impressive performance by improving Arsenal, who went toe-to-toe with one of the best teams in the league and deservedly won. They scored two fine goals, and their dream of Champions League football remains alive.
90 min +4: Arsenal ping it around as the world turns. Textbook clock management.
90 min +2: Xhaka is booked for a late lunge on Jota. Then Kolasinac knocks Jimenez over near the right-hand corner flag, with the Wolves striker going nowhere. The defender is very relieved that Neto’s delivery is useless. Wolves need to do some work on their dead-ball delivery; it’s been truly shocking today.
90 min: There will be five added minutes. Still enough time for Wolves to salvage something, but they’ll need to score very soon.
89 min: Moutinho is replaced by Gibbs-White. Arsenal win a corner. Torreira makes a big deal of doing nothing and is booked for timewasting. Nothing comes of the corner.
88 min: Arsenal come close to a third, Wolves looking utterly deflated. Aubameyang drives towards the box and is within his right to shoot, but the Golden Boot contender selflessly tees up Willock to his right. Willock beats Rui Patricio, but not Neves on the line.
The subs combine to secure all three points for Arsenal! Lacazette, his back to goal 30 yards out, rolls a pass wide right for Willock, who glides down the flank before firing a low cross into the box. Lacazette takes a touch on the edge of the six-yard box, moving right and away from Coady, before spinning and steering a lovely shot into the bottom left.
85 min: Bellerin gets on the end of a long free kick and nearly bustles free, to the right of goal, ten yards out. But he can’t quite work enough space to shoot. Arsenal are doing a fine job of keeping Wolves up the wrong end of the pitch.
84 min: Lacazette is bowled over by Coady, and that’s another name in the referee’s notebook.
83 min: More changes by Arsenal. Lacazette and Torreira come on for Nketiah and Ceballos.
81 min: Neto gives the ball away in the centre circle, allowing Arsenal to flood forward. Ceballos lines one up, 25 yards from goal, but takes too long and the chance is gone.
79 min: Maitland-Niles comes scything through the back of Moutinho. A yellow. On another day, both Saiss and Maitland-Niles could have seen red for the challenges that led to their booking. Michael Oliver’s in a generous mood.
78 min: Another decent chance for Nketiah, who steals the ball from Jota but hesitates fatally when considering a shot from the edge of the box.
77 min: Saiss wants to watch himself here, because now he’s barged into the back of Nketiah. Just a free kick, no second yellow. Nketiah gets on the end of the set piece himself, heading over from six yards. That was a decent chance.
76 min: Before the free kick can be taken, Arsenal make a double swap, sending on Willock and Bellerin for Saka and Cedric. The free kick’s then launched long, but Aubameyang can’t sort his feet out at the far post.
75 min: Saiss is booked for crudely clipping Aubameyang from behind. That was needlessly aggressive, and it’s going to be a free kick out on the right for Arsenal.
74 min: Moutinho floats this one into the mixer, forcing Xhaka to concede a corner out on the right. Moutinho takes it short, allowing Neto to attack at pace down the flank. He sends a vicious cross into the middle, but Martinez claims it spectacularly. Great hands. Safe hands.
73 min: A free kick for Wolves out on the left. Moutinho tries to release Jota with a disguised low fizz down the channel. Wolves’ set pieces have been beyond abysmal this evening. But they’ll get another chance, because Cedric almost immediately clatters Jonny.
71 min: Wolves replace Doherty with Neto, and the game restarts.
70 min: Time for isotonic beverages and tactical pep-talks.
69 min: Not for the first time today, Wolves waste their set piece by faffing around. Moutinho and Neves are the people at fault this time.
68 min: Xhaka clumsily clatters Jota to the ground as the Wolves sub slaloms down the middle. This is a free kick in a dangerous central position, 25 yards out.
66 min: There’s a long-distance back and forth between Luiz and Aubameyang as the former claims the latter isn’t making a run, holding his arms out in annoyance. He gets something back after attempting but failing to find the striker with a clunker of a pass. Arsenal haven’t really got going at all today, yet look at the scoreline. What are the words of that old song again?
64 min: Wolves have regained that aforementioned momentum, then. Jota slips Traore into acres down the inside-right channel. Traore draws Martinez, but clanks his chip over the bar. That really should have been the equaliser.
63 min: Jota sashays at great speed down the centre of the park. Arsenal seem intent on forming a guard of honour for him, and he reaches the edge of the box without being challenged at all. But just as he shoots, Luiz arrives on the scene to block. Marvellous defending by the much-maligned Brazilian.
61 min: A lull. Arsenal will be happy with the way they’ve quelled Wolves’ early second-half momentum.
59 min: Nketiah looks to burst into space down the left and is barged over by Boly. No free kick, which causes Mikel Arteta to blow a fuse. It did look a strange non-decision.
57 min: Arsenal respond with their first change. Tierney goes off, Maitland-Niles comes on.
56 min: Wolves make their first sub, sending Jota on. Eyebrows pop up all around Molineux as Traore’s number goes up. But it’s a mistake by the fourth official, and it’s Dendoncker who makes way.
54 min: Traore, with a blend of determination and great skill, brushes off a couple of Arsenal challenges in the centre of the park before spotting Doherty in space on the right. Doherty’s cross leads to a corner that’s wasted, but what a well-rounded player Traore is.
52 min: Traore tears down the right and whips towards Jimenez at the far post. Jimenez sends a diving header wide left, and claims to have been impeded by Cedric, but the referee isn’t in the least bit interested.
51 min: Neves nearly releases Traore down the right, but overcooks the pass to the extent of nearly knocking his team-mate over. Wolves are first to everything right now.
49 min: Wolves have clearly been given a good talking to, as they’re playing at an obviously higher tempo. Doherty nearly chests down a long ball inside the Arsenal box, but gives up the fight after accidentally handling. He’s frustrated at his own mistake.
48 min: Some space for Traore out on the right. He hooks into the centre but can’t find the advanced Dendoncker.
47 min: Saiss looks a wee bit groggy here. The physios take a good long look at him before he’s allowed to get up and continue.
Arsenal get the second half underway. The action unfolds for all of 15 seconds before it stops again, Saiss having taken an accidental whack on the noggin in an aerial challenge with Saka.
Arsenal had most of the possession, Wolves looked more dangerous. But it’s Bukayo Saka’s classy finish that makes the difference. With Champions League qualification still a possibility for both clubs, it’s going to be an interesting second half all right.
45 min: There will be two added minutes.
Aubameyang sends Tierney into space down the left. Tierney’s cross deflects off Doherty, and it’s a little bit behind Saka, 12 yards out. Saka shapes his body wonderfully and steers a fine shot into the top right, giving Rui Patricio no chance! That wasn’t as easy as he made it look. A really assured finish!
41 min: Traore dribbles down the inside-right channel and draws a clumsy foul out of Kolasinac. A free kick, just to the right of the D. Wolves over-elaborate, trying to tee up Saiss for a dink, and the chance is gone. Two set-pieces utterly wasted in the space of 60 seconds or so. Decadent behaviour, if nothing else.
40 min: Jiminez sends Doherty scampering down the right. The full back wins a corner off Luiz. Moutinho takes, and curls the ball straight out of play for a goal kick. So careless.
38 min: That’s given Arsenal succour, and Nketiah works wonders down the right to reach the byline. He pulls back with vigour, but there’s nobody in the middle to take advantage of his good work. Wolves clear.
37 min: That was a fine first-time shot by Nketiah, and he very nearly caught Rui Patricio out at his near post. Never a good look for goalkeepers. But Rui Patricio’s strong arm dug him out of bother. Just.
35 min: Xhaka dinks the ball down the inside-right channel. It’s not an accurate pass, but Moutinho deflects it into the path of Nketiah, who takes a fierce first-time shot towards the bottom right. Rui Patricio, surprised, instinctively turns the ball onto the right-hand post and out for a corner. Nothing comes from the resulting set piece, but at least Arsenal have finally shown some teeth in attack.
33 min: From the resulting free kick, the ball drops to Jonny, just to the left of the D. He attempts to steer a shot across Martinez and into the bottom right, but it’s always heading wide of goal.
32 min: Traore revs up on the left wing and threatens to leave Luiz for dust. The defender slides in, and that’s the first booking of the evening. David Luiz with an hour to go on a yellow card, against Adama Traore. Arsenal fans are permitted one long gulp.
31 min: Arsenal with more of the sterile possession. They look impressive until they get near the final third. Then, not so much.
29 min: Wolves, thoroughly refreshed, come at Arsenal just after the restart. Traore works his way down the right, afforded plenty of space by Tierney, who is clearly concerned about his speed. Traore whips a cross into the middle, where Dendoncker heads harmlessly wide left. He should have done better.
27 min: And that’s drinks!
26 min: ... there’s a bit of a scramble in the six-yard box. The ball breaks to Aubameyang, who flicks a shot towards the bottom right that’s easily grabbed by Rui Patricio.
25 min: Tierney works his way down the left and feeds Aubameyang, who wins a corner off Doherty. And from that set piece ...
23 min: Mustafi tries to release Nketiah down the inside-right channel, but Coady glides across to usher the striker away from the danger zone with gentle power.
21 min: It’s not sticking up front for Arsenal at all. They’ve had 73 percent of possession in the last ten minutes, as well, but almost none of it in Wolves’ final third.
19 min: Doherty flings a long throw into the Arsenal box from the right. It nearly drops to Jimenez, with both Kolasinac and Tierney faffing about, but Arsenal eventually clear. Coady immediately reapplies pressure with a long pass down the right; Traore nearly brings it under control but Tierney sticks to him like glue and forces the Wolves man to run it out for a goal kick.
18 min: Saiss rakes a pass down the left to release Jonny. However, Jonny seems in two minds about what to do when he reaches the ball, and it runs out of play before he swings a leg at it. To be fair, there was nobody in the middle to receive a first-time cross. But Arsenal were easily opened up there.
16 min: Arsenal slow it down a tad by clipping it around the back. Wolves seem happy enough to let them be about their business.
14 min: The first sight of Aubameyang this evening, as Tierney slips a ball down the left wing for him. But he slips under pressure from Doherty, and the chance to race into the box is gone.
12 min: Traore tries to release Dendoncker with a sliderule pass down the right channel. There’s not enough space for the ball to fit through, though, and it pinballs off Dendoncker and a couple of defenders before flying through to Martinez. A nice pacy feel to this game, with most of the early pressure being applied by Wolves.
10 min: Traore dribbles infield from the right, some superb ball control at warp speed. He reaches the edge of the Arsenal box, but spoils the effect by blazing wildly over. He is such a handful, though, almost unplayable at times.
9 min: Tierney offers very little space to Traore out on the right, but the winger still manages to buzz past him in a couple of steps and dig out a cross. Nobody in the centre, but that’s given Tierney, an excellent full back, something to think about.
8 min: Saka dwells on the ball out on the Arsenal right, and Jonny is quick to strip him of possession. The counter-attack doesn’t really go anywhere, which is good news for Saka, and a wake-up call as well.
6 min: Some space for Cedric down the right. His cross is to nobody in particular, and Wolves clear. Arsenal are enjoying plenty of possession, but they’re not doing a great deal with it yet. Plenty of time to go, of course.
4 min: Martinez is required to come to the edge of his box again, this time to gather a long punt that nearly releases Neves. A couple of no-nonsense, searching, direct passes already. This could be a long evening for David Luiz.
2 min: After that hectic start, Arsenal settle themselves by stringing a few passes together across the back. “Bugles, eh? If we’re bringing musical instruments into it, then Arsenal have been progressing from kazoo to tin whistle to recorder in the last three matches, so there’s every hope that they might graduate to something orchestral in this one. Not too adventurous - fife or piccolo would do. Of course, there’s an equal or greater likelihood of that old favourite, the swannee whistle.” Charles Antaki busking it, there, a one-man band.
1 min: Within the first ten seconds or so, Traore nearly gets on the end of a Jiminez ball down the middle. Martinez does extremely well to block his toe-poke on the edge of the Arsenal box. What a start that would have been!
Wolves get the ball rolling. But only after everyone takes a knee of solidarity, respect and love. Black lives matter.
The teams are out! Wolves wear their famous old gold, while Arsenal - who played in plain red shirts in the Sixties under Wright, the iconic white sleeves deemed old-fashioned by the groovy folk of swinging London - sport their first-choice colours too. We’ll be off soon! But not before there’s a minute of applause to celebrate the 72nd birthday of the NHS and to honour the selfless work of its heroic staff during this epidemic. So here are some words, ringing down the ages, from the man behind its foundation by Labour, the legendary Aneurin Bevan: “So far as I am concerned [the Conservative Party] are lower than vermin. They condemned millions of people to semi-starvation. I warn you young men and women, do not listen to what they are saying. They have not changed, or if they have they are slightly worse.” Preach on, brother Nye.
Nuno Espirito Santo speaks. “Every game in the Premier League is a very difficult game. Today we have a very difficult opponent in front of us.”
Mikel Arteta adds. “It is better than two weeks ago. Tonight’s game is crucial regarding the future. We come here to win the game. We have no margin for error. We are trying to compete as well as we can.”
The pubs are open again, aren’t they, ahead of the second wave of coronavirus. Here’s one in Wolverhampton, named after Billy Wright, the legendary captain of England and Stan Cullis’s three-time champions of the 1950s. See how the fans congregate with a view to raising a glass to the great defender and leader of men. However, Arsenal fans of a certain vintage may not remember Wright with quite so much affection, the Gunners having descended into extreme mediocrity during his stint as manager in the mid-60s. The low point of Wright’s mid-table reign was a match against Leeds, played out in front of a Highbury crowd of 4,554. One of the punters brought in a bugle, and treated everyone to a tinder-dry rendition of The Last Post. Ah well, nobody’s perfect.
In today’s 3pms ... Leicester City snapped their miserable sequence with a precious 3-0 win over Crystal Palace, while increasingly impressive Manchester United played out an absurd and highly entertaining 5-2 win over Bournemouth. That puts a wee bit of pressure on Wolves to respond in the chase for a place in next year’s Champions League: Leicester are now six points clear of Wolves in third, while United are up to fourth and three points ahead. Wolves are about to play their game in hand; if they win, they’ll barge Chelsea out of fifth spot, for a couple of hours at least. (Frank Lampard’s side host Watford tonight.)
Wolves make one change to the XI that started the 1-0 victory at Aston Villa last weekend. Adama Traore replaces Diogo Jota, who drops to the bench.
Arsenal make three changes to the team that battered Norwich 4-0 midweek. Cedric Soares, Bukayo Saka and Eddie Nketiah take the places of Hector Bellerin, Alexandre Lacazette and Reiss Nelson, who are all named as subs. There’s no room in the squad for Mesut Ozil or Matteo Guendouzi, while Nicolas Pepe is missing as his wife has gone into labour.
Wolverhampton Wanderers have had the better of Arsenal since their return to the big time in 2018. They’ve played the Gunners three times, winning one at Molineux, drawing the other two at the Emirates. This fixture last year saw Nuno Espirito Santo’s excellent side run out easy 3-1 winners; on current form - as the only side with a 100 percent winning record in the league since lockdown was lifted, having gone 405 minutes without letting in a goal - they’re favourites to do something similar again this evening.
Having said all that, Arsenal are beginning to turn their Project Restart world around, after a dismal start that saw them lose to Manchester City and Brighton. They’ve since won three on the bounce, against Southampton and Norwich in the league, and Sheffield United in the cup. A win here today would extend their lead over Tottenham - the upcoming north London derby is going to be a belter - and keep their faint hopes of Champions League football next season alive.
Three days after pledging his future to Arsenal by signing a new contract, the 18-year-old Bukayo Saka brightened the club’s outlook even further by scoring his first Premier League goal. That, and a gritty collective performance crowned by Alexandre Lacazette’s late goal, earned victory for a team that is starting to make strides under Mikel Arteta.
A late dash for Champions League qualification remains improbable but not as far-fetched as it looked two weeks ago. Arsenal’s fourth win in a row had the additional benefit for them of putting the brakes on Wolves’ charge for the top four.
Aston Villa manager Dean Smith blamed fatigue for his team's 1-0 loss to Wolves at Villa Park.
'I think the biggest winner today was fatigue,' he said. 'It is not a spectacle at the moment anyway without supporters there and even less so when you are asked to play the amount of games we are playing in so many days.'
Villa are yet to win since the Premier League restarted and currently sit 19th in the league.
Nuno speaks: “I think we performed well in terms of organisation in terms of approaching the game,” he tells BT Sport. “But we didn’t quite settle down very well. Then we started controlling better and creating chances. They’re a good team with very talented players. Today was about controlling the game, because Villa had four midfielders. We had to try to open them up and get possession in wide areas. I’m very happy with Leander because he’s a very hard worker.”
Leander Dendoncker speaks: “Very good,” he tells BT Sport. “I just think we played a good game again today. We controlled the game but the last 10 minutes was quite hard because they were losing and trying very hard to score. We kept it tight and didn’t give away a lot. We’ve done that for the past three games which is the merit of the whole team. It’s very nice.”
On Adama Traore’s contribution off the bench: “I think everyone knows he can do that, even from the middle of the pitch,” he says. “I got a good assist from Jonnyand I just shot.”
Peep! Peep! Peeeeeep! Leander Dendoncker’s second-half strike wins the points for Wolves, who win their third game in a row to go within two points of Chelsea. For Villa, it’s a nightmare scenario – they remain in 19th place with games against Liverpool and Manchester United looming large. They played reasonably well today but look completely toothless up front.
90+4 min: Now Traore concedes another free-kick, with a little kick at Mings deep in the Villa half. Moments later he commits another foul, giving Villa a free-kick just inside their own half. Nyland’s delivery towards the Wolves penalty area is atrocious.
90+3 min: Traore loses the ball to Douglas Luiz, allowing Villa to break up the pitch. They lose position again, when Luiz commits a foul.
90+2 min: We’re two minutes into five of added time. Wolves have the ball and are not inclined to give it away. They’re spraying passes around between themselves, leaving Villa’s exhausted, dispirited players chasing shadows.
90 min: Into the final minute of normal time we go, with Villa still in need of an equaliser. Wolves win a free-kick wide on the left for a foul on Neto by Kortney Hause. They play the ball all the way back to their own goalkeepe in the interests of running down the clock.
89 min: Villa keep plugging away but Jonny puts the ball out of play for a throw-in as Grealish attempts to skip past him. He’s had a very quiet second half, has young Jack.
88 min: Traore appears to amble jauntily down the right touchline, but still leaves Taylor and El Ghazi in his dust. His cross is poor, however. Villa clear their lines.
86 min: Mings tries to play a low ball to the feet of Samatta on the edge of the Wolves penalty area. It’s blocked.
85 min: Wolves substitution: Raul Jiminez, provider of the assist for Leander Dendoncker’s goal, makes way for Pedro Neto.
84 min: Jack Grealish sends a wonderful cross towards the far post from the touchline. It drops between Trezeguet and Samatta, neither of whom can quite reach it, before bouncing out of play.
82 min: Villa win a free-kick about 35 yards from the Wolves goal. McGinn floats the ball towards the far post, where Trezeguet, who has just come on, pokes it wide. Villa double-substitution: Anwar El Ghazi and Trezeguet on for Keinan Davis and Marvelous Nakamba.
79 min: Villa trail but are far from out of this game although another Wolves goal would finish them off. The visitors go forward down the right, trying to get Traore on the ball. With three players surrounding him, he picks out Dendoncker in the penalty area. His shot is blocked by Tyrone Mings.
Villa are terrified of Traore and with good reason. He’s a terrific player whose game has improved immeaurably in the past 12 months. He’s so much more thoughtful and intelligent now, where once he resembled an out-of-control driverless speedboat.
77 min: Mbwana Samatta heads the ball high over the Wolves goal from about 12 yards out, leaping under pressure to connect with a cross from the right.
76 min: Good tackle by Leander Dendoncker just inside his own penalty area. He sticks out a leg with perfect timing to block the ball and stop Grealish making one of his shimmying runs towards goal.
74 min: Villa win a free-kick wide on the left. The ball’s floated towards the far post, where Kortney Hause heads it high and wide. The delivery was a mite too high for him and he might have been better served trying to nod it across the face of goal.
74 min: With his back to goal, Grealish flicks the ball in the air after receiving a low pass form Taylor. It sits up beautifully for him and he spins to shoot on the turn. His effort from the edge of the penalty area is blocked.
72 min: Jack Grealish loses the ball in the centre-circle, Ruben Neves committing the mugging but selling Traore short with a poor pass.
71 min: Villa play the ball long down the left channel, where Willy Boly leaps to head the ball out for a throw-in.
69 min: Traore wins a free-kick in the centre-circle after being fouled by Douglas Luiz as he tried to dart away from the Villa man.
69 min: There’s another break for drinks and managerial counsel.
67 min: The ball’s sent into the mixer, where it hits Willy Boly’s knee and bounces into the path of Leander Dendoncker. He’s somewhat caught by surprise and tries to bundle the ball home at the far post, only to put it wide. It wasn’t an easy chance but it was a chance nonetheless.
66 min: Traore gets the ball on the right touchline, accelerates past Makamba with alarming ease and gets to the byline. Under pressure from Neil Taylor, he looks up and forces a corner.
64 min: Traore makes an immediate impact, playing his part in a lightning fast Wolves counter-attack. He picked up the ball from Jonny in midfield, before playing it wide to Jiminez, whose cross into the box was delightful. He picked out Jonny with his back to goal, who teed it up for Dendoncker. He still had plenty of work to do to make room for a shot and pull the trigger. That’s a fine goal and Villa find themselves in all sorts of bother.
Jimenez takes a ball from Traore on the left wing and curls an exquisite pass into the area, Within seconds it’s nestling in the bottom corner after Dendoncker, teed up by Jonny, made room for a shot and slotted home with a low drive.
60 min: Villa double-substitution: Ahmed “Elmo” Elmohamady and John McGinn on for Conor Hourihane and Ezri Konsa. Wolves substitution: Adama Traore on for Diogo Jota.
59 min: Aston Villa break on the counter, with Douglas Luiz spreading the ball right and wide to Jack Grealish. His progress is interrupted and Wolves manage to get their shape back.
57 min: Tyrone Mings attracts the attention of his Villa team-mate Neil Taylor and points to the touchline, where Adama Traore is preparing to come on. #prayforneil
56 min: Conor Hourihane curls a cross into the Wolves penalty area from the right wing. It’s too close to Rui Patricio and the goalkeeper gathers comfortably.
54 min: Samatta goes to ground on the edge of the Wolves penalty area, left side. There’s a VAR check to see if he was shoved by – I think – Willy Boly who was marking him tightly but no free-kick or penalty is forthcoming.
52 min: Grealish crosses the ball to the far post, where alongside the upright, Mbwana Samatta hooks it up in the air to prevent it going out of play. Wolves clear.
50 min: Raul Jiminez tries to play Leander Dendoncker in behind down the inside right flank, but Kortney Hause is quickly across to wallop the ball into the stand.
49 min: Willy Boly handles the ball, giving Villa a free-kick about 40 yards from his own goal. Hourihane sends the ball towards the far post, aiming for Mings. Rui Patricio darts off his line to bat the ball clear. It’s not a particularly clean contact but it’ll do. Good goalkeeping.
47 min: Moutinho curls a dangerous ball into the Villa penalty area. Neil Taylor, mindful that Raul Jimenez might be lurking behind him, shapes to head the ball out for a corner but pulls away at the last minute under loud instructions from his goalkeeper. Jiminez isn’t there and the ball sails wide.
46 min: Play resumes, with Wolves kicking off. There don’t appear to be any changes of personnel on either side.
The players go in for the break, with Wolves having enjoyed the past 20 minutes of superiority. Diogo Jota missed the pick of their opportunities, sparing Villa goalkeeper Orjan Nyland’s blushes after he had accidentally dropped the ball at his feet on the edge of the penalty area.
45+4 min: Dioga Jota gets in behind the Villa defence, performing miracles to keep the ball in play on the byline. He is unable to keep himself in play, however, falling over before he can get a cross in.
45+2 min: We’re halfway through added time at the end of the first half and the deadlock remains unbroken. It’s been an entertaining first half, despite the paucity of chances and goals. Villa dominated the opening 25 minutes, but have been largely on the back foot since the drinks break. A half of two quarters, if you will.
45 min: Villa win a free-kick wide on the left. Grealish and Hourihane try to play a two-v-one down the left rather than put it in the box. Hilarity ensues and they somehow manage to concede a throw-in. That’s poor - Villa are wasting an awful lot of opportunities to put dangerous balls into the Wolves box from set-pieces.
44 min: Jonny does brilliantly to block a Conor Hourihane curled effort that was heading goalwards.
41 min: Oh my! Villa goalkeeper Orjan Nyland shapes to throw the ball out and the ball slips out of his glove and lands three or four yards away at the feet of Jota. With all the time in the world to pick his spot and place the ball in the corner, he decides to smash the ball and sends it wide. That is a serious let-off for Villa.
40 min: Jiminez drags a low shot wide of the Villa goal after being teed up when Wolves had switched play from the left to the right wing. Wolves are dominating now after a poor opening 25 minutes and it looks like a matter of when, rather than if they will score. Remember, they still have Adama Traore on the bench, who will no doubt be introduced after an hour or so once Villa’s defence has been softened up and tired out.
39 min: Jonny crosses from the left, aiming for Jiminez but the delivery is too high. Doherty picks up the ball on the right, crosses the ball into the centre and Villa clear with Keinan Davis on the ball.
38 min: Moutinho spreads it left and wide to Jonny on the left flank and he plays a one-two with Diogo Jota trying to make room for a cross. Villa clear, for the time being.
37 min: Jack Grealish gets on the ball, cuts inside from the left and shoots through a thicket of legs from the edge of the Wolves penalty area. Rui Patricio gets down quickly to save.
35 min: Romain Saiss goes to ground holding his ankle after being fouled by Keinan Davis, who was attempting to block the Wolves man’s clearance.
34 min: Neil Taylor concedes a corner, defending well as Dendoncker tried to run on to a Conor Coady pass in a good shooting position in the Villa penalty area. Moutinho sends the ball into the mixer, where Tyrone Mings clears with a meaty header.
32 min: Free-kick for Villa, wide on the left from deep. The ball is floated towards the left side of the penalty area, where Kortney Hause is penalised for a foul on Matt Doherty. Villa have had several free-kicks in such areas and have wasted them with poor deliveries.
29 min: Jonny attempts to corss from the left corner flag towards Jota in the Villa penalty area. Konsa blocks his delivery. Wolves have looked considerably more sprightly since the refreshment break. I’ll have a pint of whatever they were drinking.
28 min: There’s another break in play as Villa’s Marvelous Nakamba receives treatment for an injury. It looks like he’s hurt his shoulder after a collision but he seems fine.
26 min: With Dendoncker and Jota waiting in the middle, Raul Jiminez gets a wonderful cross in from the right touchline. It looks on a plate for Jota to poke it home at the far post, but he can’t connect with the ball.
25 min: The players pause for drinks and some sideline coaching from their respective managers. Villa’s Dean Smith will be much happier than his opposite number.
25 min: Matt Doherty beats Taylor down the right and shoots from a ridiculously tight angle when there were options available to him in the penalty area. Wide.
24 min: Grealish and Konsa combine well down the right creating an overlap. The full-back sends a cross towards Douglas Costa in the penalty area, but his delivery is overhit.
22 min: Keinan Davis heads high over the bar under pressure from Conor Coady after getting on the end of a whipped cross from the right. Villa are having the better of the game so far but Wolves goalkeeper Rui Patricio has yet to be tested.
21 min: Under pressure from Moutinho, Hause plays the ball back to his goalkeeper. Some good, enthusiastic pressing there from old man Moutinho at the ripe old age of 33.
18 min: Moutinho takes the free-kick, chipping the ball towards the near post, where Raul Jiminez had made a darting run. The Wolves striker gets his head to the ball but Orjan Nyland clutches to his chest at the second attempt.
17 min: VIlla boss Dean Smith will be pleased with what he’s seen thus far, although losing Matt Targett and seeing Davis feeling a tender shoulder will be a source of concern. Mings gets booked for a foul on Diogo Jota that gives Wolves a free-kick just to the right of the Villa penalty area.
16 min: Tyrone Mings lumps the ball long for Keinan Davis to chase. The 22-year-old Villa striker appears to be nursing a shoulder injury after landing awkwardly while contesting a high ball.
13 min: Villa continue to dominate, with Grealish winning his side a corner after sprinting around Matt Doherty and into Leander Dendoncker on the byline. Hourihane sends the corner deep and Kortney Hause wins the header for Villa. There’s nobody on hand to turn his knockdown goalwards.
12 min: Another free-kick for Villa in a dangerous area after Moutinho has a little kick at Davis. Grealish slightly overhits his curled delivery towards Tyrone Mings at the far post and the ball sails out of play.
11 min: Aston Villa substitution: Matt Targett raises the white flag and is forced off with his dicky hamstring. He’s replaced by Neil Taylor, in a like-for-like swap.
10 min: “They’ve been playing since July, it’s been a long season for them,” says BT Sport co-commentator Glenn Hoddle, who appears to forgotten they’re just back from a three-month break.
8 min: Jack Grealish wins a free-kick for Villa halfway inside the Wolves half after being kicked by Jonny. From the set piece, the ball is curled into the penalty area, but Wolves clear.
7 min: Still clutching his left thigh, Matt Targett decides to soldier on for the time being. Play resumes.
5 min: There’s a break in play as Matt Targett receives treatment after appearing to damage his hamstring while playing a pass.
4 min: A foul by Jonny on Ezri Konsa yields a free-kick for Villa. They attempt to build from the back and get the ball forward, but Mbwana Samatta is not quick enough to cross the ball into Keinan Davis before it runs out of play for a goal kick.
3 min: Villa win a throw-in just inside their own half and Jack Grealish gets on the ball, all the better to show off his new haircut. He’s pressured by Joao Moutinho and Villa win themselves another throw-in.
1 min: There are early throw-ins for both teams before Wolves go on the attack. Matt Doherty gets the ball on the right flank but is closed down by Matt Targett. He plays the ball backwards and Wolves try their luck down the other flank. Villa clear.
1 min: Villa get the ball rolling a moment after the players of both teams take the knee to raise awareness of togetherness and anti-racism.
Not long now: Wolves are first out on to the pitch, arriving in small groups as the heavy summer shower is replaced by bright sunshine. They’re followed by the players of Villa, who seem in no particular rush to join them. They better hurry up - kick-off is just a few minutes away.
Weather report: It is tipping down with rain at Villa Park.
An email: “For all the plaudits that Nuno rightly gets for the attacking threat of his team, he did study at the feet of Mourinho and that does come out in his selection and tactics from time to time,” writes Phil Russell. “He is quite happy to ration the entertainment factor and neutralise large periods of the game in the service of a result. Most obviously seen in the turgid games v Man United but also during Thursday nights in the Europa League. Wouldn’t be surprised to see this 0-0 at the hour mark before Nuno tips the bench on to force the win.”
Nuno Espirito Santo: “I think we’ve been working well but today we have a very tough challenge in front of us,” the Wolves manager tells BT Sport. “We have to focus. Defence is the beginning of everything, we need to be compact and organised. We expect a very tough challenge and a very tough match.”
On his decision to leave out Adama Traore and bolster his midfield with Leander Dendoncker, he says “it’s all about managing the squad and knowing that different games require a different approach”.
Dean Smith: “The players are holding up, no thanks to the fixtures,” Aston Villa’s manager tells BT Sport. “Four games in 11 days, it’s been tough. I think it’s strange that we’re playing today instead of tomorrow. In terms of performances I think we’ve been playing well and I think we haven’t got the wins that our performances deserve.”
Dean Smith has made three changes to the side that drew with Newcastle on Wednesday, bringing in Conor Hourihane, Marvelous Nakamba and Keinan Davis. John McGinn, Anwar Al Ghazi and Trezeguet make way.
The Wolves manager says he is unconcerned by speculation suggesting big name stars such as Adama Traore, Ruben Neves and Raul Jimenez could leave the club if they don’t qualify for the Champions League.
“We see the next three games as opportunities,” said Villa’s manager as he looked forward to tough assignments against Wolves, Liverpool and Manchester United.. “We did OK against Chelsea in my opinion. I know other opinions are different, but we restricted a team like that to a few good chances which is all they had in the game, which is very good.
Referee: Craig Pawson
Looking for their third consecutive win since coming out of the mid-season hiatus, Wolves have a fully fit squad to choose from, although Nuno Espirito Santo may shuffle his pack to get some fresh legs on the pitch. Nuno has hinted that Pedro Neto may start after impressing off the bench in Wolves’ last two outings.
The title race may be over but there’s plenty at stake for both these sides as Aston Villa entertain Wolves in a West Midlands derby behind the closed doors of Villa Park. Despite the lack of atmosphere, there ought to be no end of spice as Villa continue their battle against the drop and Wolves maintain their push for a place in the Champions League.
Second from bottom on 27 points, Villa can lift themselves out of the relegation zone with a draw or win, while a point or more will take Wolves above Manchester United into fifth place behind Chelsea. Kick-off is at 12.30pm (BST) but stay tuned in the meantime for team news and build-up.
These Wolves belong in high-class company. They climbed to fifth thanks to Leander Dendoncker’s crisply struck goal, closing to within four points of Chelsea in the chase for Champions League qualification. Aston Villa, meanwhile, remain in deep peril in 19th position having played a game more than their rivals.
Dean Smith said Villa’s lack of sharpness was partly down to fatigue. “We are the only team to have played four games in 11 days [since the restart]. Why this match wasn’t played on Sunday or Monday I don’t know. It’s ridiculous to ask players to play so many games in a short period.”
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