Wolverhampton Wanderers will be eager to return to their captivating best as they welcome an Everton side who have seen a sterling transformation under Carlo Ancelotti since his return to the Premier League.
With both teams fresh from prevailing from the sojourn of the FA Cup, attentions switch to the imperative need for points back in England’s top-flight.
Wolves are currently languishing at 13th in the league having played 17 fixtures, and find the elusive reward of European football slipping agonisingly out of their grasp with each passing match-week.
Indeed, Nuno Espirito Santo’s side have suffered something of an adverse slump in recent form, succumbing to a run of one win in seven; a sequence that intriguingly coincides with the harrowing head injury inflicted upon talisman Raul Jimenez.
Conversely, Everton are relishing life under their iconic manager and will be seeking a third successive away triumph to take them as high as third in the league table.
Everton have failed to win at the Molineux on both occasions since the Wanderer’s surging return to the Premier League, drawing 2-2 and notably suffering an embarrassing 3-0 defeat last season in one of the feeblest showings of Ancelotti’s tenure at the club.
Wolves lacking Bite
Wolves have seen an already turbulent opening to the campaign further hampered as a number of key players have suffered disruptive injuries since the season’s inception.
With Jimenez’s skull fracture, Jonny Otto’s long-term knee injury and various knocks to first-team individuals such as Daniel Podence and Willy Boly, Santo will be hoping to see other members of his squad grasp the opportunity to impress and prove their worth.
Wolves will be confident of clinching a win which would see them leapfrog Arsenal and Leeds to 11th place, albeit potentially only temporarily.
Yet a victory against a top side such as Everton could be the pivotal upturn in form needed to belatedly kick-start their hope for European football.
Everton looked lethargic against Rotherham in last weekend’s FA Cup victory, and Santo will certainly be identifying ways to force complacency and errors that were a prevalent theme throughout the Toffees sluggish display.
Everton’s revitalised resurgence
Ancelotti is showing undoubtedly and significant progress in his endeavour to reclaim Everton’s status as one of the countries elite clubs, and has meticulously instilled a winning mentality into the Merseyside outfit.
The Italian maestro can largely credit his success to the reformed defence and the potency in attack, with his side having scored seven more goals than they had at this stage last season, whilst shipping seven fewer at the other end.
Another crucial factor to the upturn in fortunes is by virtue of key summer signings such as the marquee signings of Allan from Napoli and Abdoulaye Doucoure from Watford, with the two midfielders having established a formidable partnership under Ancelotti’s regime.
However, with Allan side-lined having sustained a hamstring injury last month, Wolves will look to capitalise on the absence of aggression provided by the tenacious Brazilian.
This tactical encounter will be unlikely to see a plethora of goal action but will remain fascinating nevertheless as both sides seek to gain a foothold in a potentially tentative opening half.
Wolves will be keen to establish dominance in what is set to be an enthralling midfield battle, utilising the ubiquitous influences of Joao Moutinho and Ruben Neves to build up and play through the lines of their opponents in a fixture likely decided by fine margins.
A moment of individual brilliance might indeed prove to be decisive as both sides look to exert their authority, and with Adama Traore emphatically scoring his first of the season in the FA Cup last weekend, it could very well be the robust Spaniard who controls the narrative.