The key men leading Wolverhampton Wanderers’ Championship charge
It seems nothing can stop Wolverhampton Wanderers this season. Nuno Espirito Santo’s men sit top of the Championship and eight points above the play-off spots.
Wolves’ hugely impressive first-half of the campaign has been a team effort. But there are a handful of performers who’ve proved especially important to the Molineux cause.
We take a look at the key figures spearheading the Black Country club’s revival…
GK: John Ruddy
The former England international left Norwich City in the summer, following seven years with the Canaries. But it’s taken him no time to settle in at Molineux.
The towering stopper has thrived behind a well-organised back four, commanding his box and producing key stops in some of the season’s tightest games.
His stunning save from Reading’s Sone Aluko in last month’s 2-0 victory at the Madejski Stadium perhaps the pick of some absolutely cracking stops.
Having now chalked up 11 clean sheets in 21 Champ games for the club, the 31-year-old offers a reliable and occasionally spectacular presence in goal.
LM: Barry Douglas
Santo picked up the little-known Scot from Turkish club Atiker Konyaspor in the summer for £1m. And the 28-year-old has proved himself to be worth every penny…and then some.
Equal parts tough-tackling and creative, Douglas has made vital contributions at some of the most important moments.
His winning goal away at Derby County in August, and crucial assists in 3-2 victories over Hull City and Preston North End are testament to that. And while less glamorous, his midfield battling has also been hugely important
Having been in and out of the side in the early weeks, Douglas has now started nine of the last 10 league games (missing the other through suspension). And with a consistent spot in the starting XI, he’ll surely go from strength to strength.
LW: Diogo Jota
Further up the left flank, the young Atletico Madrid loanee has been tying opposition defences up in knots. He’s created a huge 28 chances in the league so far, as well as netting nine goals of his own.
The 21-year-old’s pace has made him especially tough to deal with. His mazy run and finish to bag the opener at Burton Albion in October perhaps the prime example of how well he uses his speed.
Having captained the Portugal Under-21 side in recent months, he’s a player of real maturity and a key part of what makes Wolves work as such a well-oiled machine.
ST: Leo Bonatini
The Brazilian is second in the Championship goalscoring charts, having found the net in 11 of the club’s 21 league games – including a brace against Preston North End.
A frequent scorer of late goals, the man from Belo Horizonte has frequently been the man to kill off games where Wolves have had a narrow lead.
Clinical, and with a good reading of the game, he’s also become a fans’ favourite with game-changing goals against West Midlands foes Aston Villa and Birmingham City.
As the central man in the frontline of Wolves’ 3-4-3 system, Bonatini’s eye for goal and smart positioning makes him the perfect fit for his creative teammates on the flanks.
Next up for Wolves is Friday night’s trip to Sheffield Wednesday. The Black Country club are 23/20 to take maximum points at Hillsborough for the first time since 2014.
However, regardless of that result, our traders think Wolves are nailed-on for promotion. It’s 1/20 they make it up to the Premier League this season, with 1/6 for the league title to come to Molineux.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing