Over the last few years, we’ve seen a handful of top championship clubs clinch promotion and take the Premier League by storm: Bournemouth, Leicester City, Leeds United. But not since the tinkering foxes of 2016 has a team shaken up the status quo quite like Nuno’s pack of wolves.
Wolverhampton Wanderers re-entered the prem with force in 2018, placing seventh and claiming a spot in the Europa League at the first time of asking.
The following season, Wolves were the pinnacle of consistency, avoiding the dreaded second season syndrome and placing seventh once again, but this time they fell shy of European football — a disappointment only because Nuno’s team have raised their own bar so high.
Despite a shaky start to the 2020/21 season, through sleek transfer business and typical second half showmanship, the team are still expected to pose a real threat to the top four.
Read on as we unpick the stats and review the odds to see if these expectations are founded in evidence — or whether the prospect of Champions League football is too big a bite to chew on just yet.
Do the betting odds favour Wolves placing in the top four?
Given the Premier League season is only 11 games deep, current points totals don’t provide a big enough sample size to make an accurate prediction. So, we’ve turned to betting odds to retrieve a more solid indication of whether Wolves can realise their expectations of a top-four finish.
By studying a selection of odds from respected betting sites (new and old) we can determine Wolves’ chances with a degree of authority.
Perhaps they do make the leap — or maybe Nuno needs another season to put all the pieces in place? Let’s see how Wolves stack up against the competition when put through the bookie’s algorithm.
First up, 888sport: we chose this site because it’s synonymous with football discussion through Fans Unite and its wider YouTube Channel (take this VAR debate for example).
Here’s what 888sport has to say about the race for the top four:
- Liverpool: 1/14
- Manchester City: 1/14
- Chelsea: 33/100
- Tottenham: 4/9
- Leicester City: 11/2
- Manchester United: 27/20
- Wolverhampton Wanderers: 16/1
In the interest of balance, our second site is Fansbet: a new online casino run by fans, so it has a solid connection to the grassroots world of British football (as recommended on this new casino list).
Here’s how Fansbet’s odds portray the battle for a top-four finish:
- Manchester City: 1/14
- Liverpool: 1/12
- Chelsea: 4/11
- Tottenham: 2/5
- Manchester United: 13/10
- Leicester City: 5/1
- Wolverhampton Wanderers: 16/1
It’s worth pointing out that both betting sites (888Sport and Fansbet) also have Wolves falling behind Everton in their current form, so the team have a lot of ground to make up before they can think about the top four.
How are Wolves shaping up this season?
A quick look at the Wolves squad 2020/21
At the time of writing, Wolves sit tenth in the table after suffering a 4-0 defeat at Anfield. Early signs suggest they are feeling the loss of key players Diogo Jota and Matt Doherty more keenly than first predicted.
It’s also clear what effect Raúl’s injury could have on the rest of the team, following a gruesome clash of heads with David Luiz at the Emirates. For the past couple of seasons Raúl Jiménez has become synonymous with the Nuno era, without him Wolves must do without their top scorer and all-round star player — a sentiment evoked by the players’ message: Stay strong Raul, the pack is with you.
Putting betting odds aside, Wolves top-four hopes depend on how well they adapt over the coming weeks, but it’s not all doom and gloom — far from it in fact…
Connor Coady continues to lead the team like a gentle despot, barking orders with a demanding scouse growl. Daniel Podence is looking like a solid replacement for Jota, showcasing brilliant inventiveness with all the skill of his compatriot. And the young Fabio Silva has a chance to shine in the newly vacant striker role.
But is all this enough to secure a place at the top of European football? A switch to a back four is unearthing cracks in the formerly solid defensive unit, particularly with Doherty replacement, Nelson Semedo yet to showcase any tangible defensive awareness.
However, the new formation hasn’t had a chance to click into place, with their recent visit to Liverpool feeling like trial by fire. There is every chance Neto and the front line can score more freely now, even without the firepower of Raúl. And if Rúben Neves steps into the Jiménez role as club talisman, things could start to shape up quite nicely for Wolves.
Do we think Wolves can see off the competition?
Wolverhampton Wanderers — the ultimate top-table irritators — feel like a team on the cusp of greatness, who need a few more pieces to fall into place before making a leap into the top four.
On their day, Wolves upend the status quo and inspire victory against bigger, better teams to the point it’s become a standard day at the office.
Yet inconsistency can hold them back, making them fall just short of the ultimate prize. Piling this on with new transfers adjusting to Nuno’s system and injury woes that leave a hole up front, suddenly the chances of a top-four finish feel quite bleak.
Wolves are like an eager child, growing taller each year until they finally reach the cupboard where the sweets are kept. Maybe the top four is out of reach this season, but sooner rather than later fans will be gorging on the Champions League and celebrating amongst the upper echelon of European football.