How are Nuno's Wolves doing?
WOLVERHAMPTON, ENGLAND - JUNE 02: Nuno Espirito Santo, head coach of Wolverhampton Wanderers heads out to training at Sir Jack Hayward Training Ground on June 02, 2020 in Wolverhampton, England. (Photo by Wolverhampton Wanderers FC/WWFC via Getty Images)

The more success a club achieves, the greater the demand becomes from the fan base. When the expectation starts to overshadow the success, then problems begin to arise. 

Wolverhampton Wanderers boss Nuno Espirito Santo now finds himself facing such a predicament.

VAVEL takes a look how Nuno is faring in his third season in the Premier League and comparing it to his two previous seasons in the top flight of English football.

  • Wins, draws and losses

After playing 14 games so far this season, Wolves find themselves sitting in eleventh on 20 points. Coincidentally, last season they also acquired 20 points after playing the same amount of games. The difference was that they sat in 6th position this time last seaso.

This represents that the team are no better off than what they were last season in terms of points, but struggling when compared to the teams around them.

Wolves did have to contend with UEFA Europa League football last year, but with the chaos and relentlessness of the current season, it could be argued that both have been just as detrimental to the side's performances.

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The difference is though that all the teams in this year's league have been affected by this. This season, Wolves have a win percentage of around 40%, which is pretty similar to the two previous seasons. 

What is worrying though is the higher percentage of games lost, which currently sits at 43% this season, compared to 34% in 2018/19 and 24% in 2019/20. 

This has also coincided with the lowest percentage of games drawn out of the last three seasons, with only 14% of games ending in draws, with 2018/19 being 24% and 2019/20 being 37%. This suggests that Wolves are losing games that they may normally have drawn more this season. 

Examples of these can be seen in recent games against Burnley, Aston Villa and Leicester City. In each of these games, Wolves ended up only losing by one goal, but had more than enough opportunities to come away with at least a draw.

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Having no fans in the stadium is, of course, a factor this season, but again, it is something that is affecting everyone else in the league. Wolves have though suffered in terms of points per game at home, only picking up an average of 1.57 thus far.

Compare this to 1.79 in 2018/19 and 1.63 in 2019/20 and you can see there is a worryingly downward trend. Their away form is not as good as last year, but better than the 2018/19 season, so not too dissimilar in context. 

  • Attacking statistics

A major problem this season for Nuno's side has been the team's inability to score goals. Wolves have their lowest goals per game ratio out of the last three seasons, only managing one goal a game so far. In 2018/19 they managed 1.24 and it was even higher in 2019/20 at 1.37.

Nuno needs to find a way to score more goals as soon as possible, otherwise valuable points will continue to be lost as wins turn into draws and draws turn into defeats. 

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The lack of goals though is not down to poor finishing. Shooting accuracy has been 32% in each season, meaning the likes of Raul Jimenez and Fabio Silva have generally been making the most of their opportunities. 

Crossing accuracy has also been almost similar to the last two seasons, being around 24-25%. This means that the likes of Daniel Podence, Adama Traore and Pedro Neto are still getting balls into the box with the usual level of quality.

The big key difference has been the amount of 'big chances' created. These are opportunities that should result in a goal. In the 2018/19 season, the team managed to create 1.71 big chances per game, with a slightly lower number in the 2019/20 season with 1.5. 

In the current season, Wolves have only managed to create 0.64 big chances per game, less than half of the other two previous seasons. This is the team's biggest hurdle this season and a major factor that is holding them back.

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With the team's average possession also being similar to previous seasons with numbers around 47-49%, this indicates that Wolves have been a lot less effective with the ball this season, a statistic that does not put Nuno's new approach in a good light.

  • Defending statistics

With Nuno experimenting with a back four this season, it is no wonder that the goals conceded per game has been the highest throughout the last three seasons, conceding 1.36 goals per game. 

Compare this with last season's, which was only 1.05 and you can see another problem that the team have encountered. With the team scoring less and conceding more, a lot of questions are beginning to surface around Molineux. 

Tackles won and interceptions have been similar to previous seasons, which is not the problem. It is with positioning and marking that the team have had issues, a direct result from the change of formation from a back three to a back four.

Rui Patricio has been ever-present between the sticks for Wolves, but has also been affected by this, making the least amount of saves per game in his time at Molineux with just 2.14 saves per game. He made 2.63 in 2018/19 and 2.39 in 2019/20, which is another unsettling downward trend.

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With Nuno's men not performing in front of goal, he needs his defence to be more solid than ever. It is his job to find the delicate balance between attack and defence, a job he needs to do fast.

  • In summary

Being on the same amount of points as last season does not hide the issues that Nuno needs to address. The team need to create more big chances, as they are not providing enough compared to previous seasons.

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Getting more players into the box would allow more goal-scoring opportunities, giving more chance to get on the end of crosses, instead of the ball simply being cleared away by the opposition. 

Nuno needs to decide on a formation and stick to it, as the defence is conceding more goals per game than in previous seasons. A solid defence has been the foundation of everything that Nuno has built and without it, the team are struggling.

The Wolves boss has earned the right to be given the time to address these issues, but he must do so soon. However, the season will not stop to allow Nuno to find a solution and the games are coming quick and fast. 

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