I know it was a much-changed Palace team but it was pleasing to see us control the majority of the game on Friday.
Having that reliable midfield trio in place was reassuring and brought out the best in Ruben Neves.
It was a much more Nuno-like team performance overall with the cohesion and positional discipline we’ve come to expect.
A repeat would be splendid in the next two home games to emerge with a points tally that gets us looking up instead of down.
It’s been a good season for Carlo Ancelotti’s team and a win tomorrow would put them just a point behind Liverpool.
The summer recruitment drive has sorted out what was previously a terrible midfield and combined with the goals of Dominic Calvert-Lewin they suddenly look a much different outfit.
I’d be surprised if they made the top four, but top six is very much on the table if they continue as they have been.
What’s impressed me most is the results they achieved over Christmas despite injuries to key personnel, suggesting they have a way of playing that isn’t reliant on individuals.
They boast one of the best away records in the league with five wins from eight matches.
Midfielder Allan appears to be the only notable absentee after Lucas Digne made an earlier than expected return in the FA Cup.
The away end
Some thoughts lifted from the pre-match thread on the Grand Old Team forum:
Bogey team for us this lot with pace all over the pitch that can stretch us. We haven’t taken a proper tonking since Southampton and I feel it’s a possibility here. If Richarlison starts then we need him on his A game. No room for passengers. Only one of Gomes or Sigurdson too, otherwise we are starting with 9 players. Hope to god both of our blood injury Columbians are fit to start as this game comes rather quick after two head injuries.
Digne is quality in possession, but against Wolves I worry about him against Traore, especially after a spell out. They have two very fast players out wide in Traore and Neto. We need to nullify that if we’ve got any chance of the win.
Very nervous about this one. We need a win, but I can’t see it he way we’ve been playing. Anyway, DCL and Richie will be back, rested, and James, Doucoure and Digne and Coleman are available, so a much improved team available. Fingers crossed.
I am worried by this one, they have some good pace wide and up front tyically playing a 3-5-2…. When defending they will be 5 at the back, and you know what we are like breaking teams down who defend in numbers! In wide areas they have good pace which we always fail to deal with, plus 2 strikers they will play up against our 2 centre backs leaving us 2 on 2 when our full backs go forward.
I’d be surprised if the team was anything other than the XI we saw against Palace, other than perhaps Cutrone getting a start up front.
Fabio squandered one glorious opportunity to get his first goal from open play and looked tired so unless there’s a compelling reason not to make that change, it feels inevitable.
I think there are mistakes in Ait-Nouri too and long for the reassuring presence of Jonny in that left-back position. He’d be the ideal foil for Neto.
Semedo was excellent against Palace I should say, albeit not really tested defensively as he has been at times.
Last time out
We don’t win many games comfortably but we well and truly trounced Everton at the end of last season. They had injury problems and Ancelotti had them in an unfamiliar system but we really did dominate in a 3-0 win that could have been more.
Earlier in the season, they overcame us 3-2 at Goodison Park after we clawed our way back into the contest twice, only for Richarlison’s header to prove the difference.
Unsurprisingly, nobody thought we’d conjure up a 3-3 draw with Brighton.
But Matt Cook takes the lead at the top of the overall Prediction League table at the end of Gameweek 17, having amassed his 20 points with one fewer prediciton than Liz.
As always if you’d like to join in, simply leave your prediction for this game in the comment section below, which is where you’ll find my best guess.
Up The Wolves!