Wolves face Chelsea on Wednesday in a big Premier League clash, with both teams looking for three welcome points.
The hosts come into the game having failed to win in their last six Premier League outings, while Chelsea, who overcame Fulham at Stamford Bridge this weekend, are hoping to continue banishing the memory of their dismal London derby defeat to Tottenham a couple of weeks ago.
It should be a closely contested game, with a host of talent available to both managers. With that in mind, here are four key battles that could be decisive in Wednesday’s clash at Molineux.
1. Conor Coady vs Eden Hazard
This is arguably the biggest battle on Wednesday, as Wolves’ ever-present Coady looks to contain the red-hot Belgian.
Coady has played every game this season for Nuno Espirito Santo, and although results haven’t been going Wolves’ way recently, he has been the model of consistency.
Facing him at Molineux will be Eden Hazard, who is looking for goal number nine of the season. The Belgian has gone off the boil in recent games, but remains Chelsea’s key threat in any game that he plays in.
2. Raul Jimenez vs David Luiz
Raul Jimenez is Wolves’ key source of goals and assists, for which he tops both charts in the squad. The Mexican has three goals and five assists this season, and will hope to add to his tally against the Blues.
His duel with David Luiz will be a crucial one. Although he is generally a decent centre-back, the Brazilian has proven himself to be vulnerable at times, with lapses in concentration and poor decision making rife in his game.
Whether Luiz will have a good or bad game is unknown, but what is certain is that he will need to be at his best to contain Wolves’ main goal threat.
3. Helder Costa vs Marcos Alonso
Although Costa’s goalscoring stats are underwhelming, his attacking prowess is far from it. He has been great for Wolves this season, and offers a powerful and skilful attacking option for Nuno Espirito Santo.
He will be against Marcos Alonso on Wednesday, who needs to react to – quite frankly – a shocking performance against Fulham. His crossing was dreadful, his movement was non-existent and his attacking threat was minimal.
Nevertheless, Alonso has to react positively to Sunday’s performance and face Wolves with confidence. However, facing Costa will make his far more of a challenge.
4. Joao Moutinho vs Jorginho
Wednesday’s midfield battle sees two marquee summer signings battle it out at Molineux.
Joao Moutinho has been solid for Wolves since joining from Monaco, and adds an important style of play to their midfield. Jorginho on the other hand is Chelsea’s passing machine, and has revolutionised their midfield since Maurizio Sarri brought him with him from Napoli.
This battle will be interesting to see how two intelligent central midfielders play against each other, and whether one of them can contain their counterpart in Wednesday’s big match.