Wolverhampton Wanderers saw their poor form continue after succumbing to a home defeat against fierce rivals West Bromwich Albion.
The Baggies came from behind to earn a famous 3-2 victory at Molineux, with Matheus Pereira’s penalty brace proving decisive for Sam Allardyce’s struggling outfit.
The issues have been rife for some time now for Wolves’ brooding manager Nuno Espirito Santo, who cut a forlorn figure after experiencing his first ‘Black Country’ defeat in a match of pivotal importance.
Indeed, the wounds run deep for Wolves, who are now enduring a substandard run that has left them with one win in nine Premier League outings, as well as going 12 fixtures without a clean sheet, the longest run in the division.
Wolves were once again lacking the forward presence of Raul Jimenez, who’s aerial and physical attributes were sorely missed despite Fabio Silva’s first goal from open play for the midlands side.
Wolves flailing on all fronts
The seamless integration of Wolves’ offensive and defensive system; the influential presence of charismatic captain Conor Coady. Two elements of an established system that have haplessly collapsed in recent times.
This was evidenced against West Brom, with the unremitting Coady finding himself in something of an unprecedented situation as he was withdrawn by his Portuguese manager for the first time.
It was another abject display bearing no resemblance to the resolute and fierce side that Santo had excelled in crafting as he led the side to successive seventh-place finishes after promotion from the Championship.
Wolves have lost their way in recent times, and despite the manager’s best efforts to change their fortunes, they are just unable to prevent the recent slump.
Santo has attempted to alter his system this season, dismantling the formidable five-man defence for a more conventional four-man backline in an attempt to complement their offensive efforts.
Allardyce exposes set-piece weakness
Wolves have conceded nine goals from set-pieces in this season's Premier League, equating to over 31% of their total conceded strikes - an unfortunate number only surpassed by Leeds United.
Both of Albion’s penalties were won by Callum Robinson, who was the subject of two clumsy challenges from Willy Boly and the withdrawn Coady.
Unfortunate circumstances have left Wolves vulnerable this campaign, but no blame can be diverted from the lack of defensive stability and coordination that allowed West Brom to capitalise and earn an unlikely derby victory away from home.
Challenging times continue
These are telling times for Wolves, and after two tremendous seasons of football orchestrated by Santo’s brilliance, the harrowing prospect of a relegation battle will need to be rectified before the situation.
The onus is now on Santo to rally his men and establish a run of form reminiscent of previous seasons, and the catalyst of such a run will no doubt come in the form of a talismanic Mexican striker.
But football is a team sport, and those at the club will need to be relentless in their collective pursuit of the form that has waned significantly in recent times.