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Wolverhampton Wanderers: Is European qualification possible?

24 November 2021 | Premier League | Opinion
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Wolverhampton Wanderers: Is European qualification possible?
Michael715 / Shutterstock.com

Bruno Lage is revolutionizing Wolverhampton Wanderers. Yes, that is a bold statement, because there wasn’t anything wrong with Wolves to begin with.

In fact, Wolverhampton Wanderers underwent a revolution just a few seasons ago when Nuno Espirito Santo turned them into one of England’s most difficult teams to defeat. The difference is the way in which Wolves are obtaining points.

Under Santo, Wolverhampton were based on keeping goals out of the back of the net and nicking a goal when possible. Lage has altered the way Wolves play, focusing on attacking football that is easy on the eye.

Sure, Wolverhampton have scored just 12 goals after 12 games, which is the third-fewest in the league, but their low number of goals isn’t due to a lack of trying. The Old Gold have tallied 140 shots. They average 11.7 shots per game.

At the beginning of the campaign, Wolves were in the top three for shots per game with Liverpool and Chelsea. The number has declined with Lage’s team now getting quality over quantity.

Last season, Santo’s last before departing the club, Wolverhampton scored just 36 goals. It was the fourth-lowest total and the lowest of any team not relegated from the Premier League. This season, Lage’s team has already tallied one-third of last season’s final goals total.

Wolves’ defence is still strong. They have conceded 12 goals in 12 games, only Chelsea, Manchester City, and Liverpool have done better in the goals allowed department.

With the improvements made under Lage, can Wolverhampton achieve European football for the second time in four seasons?

Wolverhampton sit sixth after 12 matchdays in the Premier League. Lage has led the team to 19 points from 36 on offer and just four points separate the Old Gold from fourth-place West Ham.

On matchday 12, Wolves defeated West Ham 1-0 at home. It was a massive win as Wolverhampton defeated a direct rival in the race for Europe. Wolves have two very winnable games coming up against Norwich City and Burnley, before facing a difficult match versus Liverpool.

By the end of matchday 14, Wolves could be on 25 points and in the top four. In 2018-19, Wolverhampton Wanderers achieved Europe League football with a seventh-place finish.

Santo led the team to 57 and the qualification rounds of the Europa League. A nine-point gap saw Wolverhampton Wanderers finish behind sixth-place Manchester United.

Wolverhampton have already taken a third of the 57 points they secured in 2018-19. If Lage can continue to obtain points at the same clip, Wolves should have no issue finishing in the top seven once more.

While Europa Conference League football isn’t as sexy as Champions League or Europa League football, it should be the minimum objective for the Old Gold from here. Yet, based on Wolverhampton Wanderers form, Europa League football is a possibility.

All fans want Champions League football. Fourth place could be open, but Wolves will need to be more consistent for the rest of the campaign to finish in the top four. Lage should be able to deliver European football, but the Champions League is likely a tournament too far.

Premier League
OVERALL TABLE PTS GP W D L GF GA +/-
1
Manchester City 35 15 11 2 2 32 9 23
2
Liverpool 34 15 10 4 1 44 12 32
3
Chelsea 33 15 10 3 2 35 9 26
4
West Ham 27 15 8 3 4 28 19 9
5
Tottenham 25 14 8 1 5 16 17 -1
6
Manchester United 24 15 7 3 5 25 24 1
7
Arsenal 23 15 7 2 6 18 22 -4
8
Wolverhampton 21 15 6 3 6 12 13 -1
9
Brighton 20 15 4 8 3 14 16 -2
10
Aston Villa 19 15 6 1 8 21 24 -3
11
Leicester City 19 15 5 4 6 23 27 -4
12
Everton 18 15 5 3 7 19 25 -6
13
Brentford 17 15 4 5 6 19 21 -2
14
Crystal Palace 16 15 3 7 5 19 21 -2
15
Leeds United 16 15 3 7 5 15 22 -7
16
Southampton 16 15 3 7 5 14 21 -7
17
Watford 13 15 4 1 10 20 29 -9
18
Burnley 10 14 1 7 6 14 21 -7
19
Newcastle United 10 15 1 7 7 17 30 -13
20
Norwich City 10 15 2 4 9 8 31 -23

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