Wolves v Crystal Palace: pre-match analysis
Joao Moutinho shields the ball from Jairo Riedewald during Wolves' 2-0 win over Palace in July. (Photo by Martin Rickett/Pool Getty Images)

Wolverhampton Wanderers will look to go level on points with the top of the Premier League on Friday night as they face Crystal Palace at Molineux

Nuno Espirito Santo's side go into the game on a three match unbeaten run, but laboured to a disappointing draw against Newcastle last time out. 

Palace, who can also go level at the summit with a win, ended a three game winless run last weekend by beating Fulham at Craven Cottage

In this article, VAVEL take a look at the battles that could occur during the game, and what the sides need to do to come out on top.

  • Wolves must contain dangerman Zaha

With five goals and an assist in his six Premier League games this season, Wilfried Zaha is undoubtedly Palace's danger man. 

Despite scoring just four goals in a disappointing campaign last year, the Ivory Coast international looks to be back to his best following a positional switch.

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Zaha played most of last season on the left wing, but has played on the right of a strike partnership with either Michy Batshuayi or Jordan Ayew during the first six games of this campaign. 

If this continues as expected on Friday, Max Kilman will face his toughest test yet against one of the league's best attacking players, and may need support from whichever of Romain Saiss, Marcal or Rayan Ait-Nouri plays ahead of him at left-wing back.

Wolves did a good job of containing Zaha when they beat the Eagles 2-0 at Molineux in July, and will need the same sort of attention paid to the 27-year-old if they are to get the same sort of result. 

  • Physical midfield could prove key

As is often the case when Wolves play against physical teams, the build up to Friday's game has provoked much discussion about which midfield pairing would be suitable. 

In recent weeks Nuno has played Leander Dendoncker alongside one of Ruben Neves or Joao Moutinho, who have been rotating week on week.

However, with Palace's midfield likely to consist of Luka Milivojevic and either Jairo Riedewald or James McArthur, reinforcements may be needed. 

Discussion has been raised about the suitability of moving Romain Saiss from wing-back to a more natural midfield role alongside Dendoncker, a move that worked against a physical, albeit worse, Cardiff side at Molineux 18 months ago.

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This move would offer more defensive protection while freeing up the front three to focus more on their attacking play, so has to be seriously considered. 

  • Attacking play must improve against shaky Palace defence

If Wolves are to pick up anything from this game, the free-flowing attacking play they became renowned for in Nuno's first two seasons in charge must return. 

The Molineux faithful have now been waiting for well over a year for the lethargy that has crept into their play to subside, and this was on show for all to see in Sunday's draw with Newcastle. 

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Another goalless first half against the Magpies meant that Wolves have now scored just 16 first-half goals in 44 Premier League games, going back to the start of 2019-20.

Against a Palace side who have not kept a clean sheet since the opening day, Wolves must learn to play on the front foot and create goalscoring chances for Raul Jimenez, whose clinical nature could see Wanderers out of sight if given the opportunities.