The race to finish in the top four of Premier League is the most exciting we’ve seen for some time and Bruno Lage’s men will be focused on beating the odds and being successful. The table is a little distorted, but there’s no doubting there’s a chance of securing a European place and conceivably in club football’s most prestigious competition.
Who else is competing for these places?
If we consider Liverpool and Man City shoe-ins for a top-four spot as they once again challenge each other for the top spot, there are two places left and the competition for the coveted positions is intense.
Chelsea was in the title race, but injuries to Reece James and Ben Chilwell have blunted their attack and all is not well in the camp. Romelu Lukaku has caused some unrest in the Chelsea camp with his ill-advised comments and Thomas Tuchel might be losing confidence in his team. They should have enough to secure the third position, but it’s not certain.
That leaves just one more place and as well as Wolves, the teams realistically expected to take it are Manchester United, West Ham, Arsenal and Tottenham. At the time of writing, anyone betting in the UK can get Wolves at a price of 40/1 as they are seen as outsiders in the top four race. Man Utd are expected to make it over the line, simply based on past experience and an expensively assembled squad. Interim manager Ralf Rangnick will be desperate to qualify for next year’s competition, but his appointment hasn’t improved the team’s inconsistency.
There is a risk that Rangnick’s side, or an English team in general, wins the Champions League and that circumstances would combine so the fourth-placed team in the Premier League would miss out on the Champions League. With Atletico Madrid in the last 16, it seems unlikely to be United, but what a blow that would be if Wolves did manage to finish fourth. West Ham, Arsenal and Tottenham all have reason to believe that they can make it, but also suffer from the inconsistency that has resulted in them missing out in the past.
Finishing in the top-four isn’t a fairytale story for Wolves, but it would be a major achievement that could propel the team to future glory. Although he is an affable character, Lage is driven and demands the best from his team. He’s raised standards at Molineux since taking a tight grip over the squad and he is generating ambition and mentality in his players to earn more. Lage has spoken about taking Wolves to the next level and challenging for silverware, but a top-four spot is surely a priority as the other challengers falter and leave the door open.
January transfer window
Given the excellent recent results and our comfortable position in the league table, should new blood have been brought in during the January transfer window to push for a top-four finish? It would be harsh to criticise the club when things are going so well and Wolves aren’t the only team reluctant to splash the cash in January. The current state of the market dictates that Jeff Shi keeps his money in his pocket until the summer and hopes that squad depth doesn’t become an issue as the team push for Europe. Not spending money will always ruffle the feathers of some supporters, but these are unprecedented times and it could be prudent to wait and ensure the right players are acquired at the right price.
Realistically, gaining a UEFA Europa League place is a more viable option, but we can dream and look forward to future European adventures.