Last updated & checked: 10/08/2021
Two sides that have had hugely impressive seasons so far, but tailed off specifically since the turn of the year, meet in the Black Country this Friday night. Wolves, who under Nuno have become a more than solid Premier League team, will fancy their chances given home advantage and the shaky recent form of visitors Leicester. The hosts have picked up just five points from the last possible twelve, it’s true – but they have met Liverpool and Manchester United during that stretch.
The Foxes, who have a decent record in these “dog-like wild creatures” derbies, will come into this game hoping to put the recent indifferent results behind them. Since a nine-game winning run between October and December, they’ve wobbled with defeats against Southampton and Burnley among a less-than-stellar set of results. Last time out, they drew 2-2 with Chelsea, but really should have taken all three points; the aim here must be to get a positive result.
Wolverhampton Wanderers vs Leicester City Prediction: Wolverhampton Wanderers 2-1 Leicester City
They still have the third-best defence in the Premier League on goals conceded, but at one point Leicester were top of that particular table. January has been a tough month, with star defensive midfielder Wilfried Ndidi only fitfully involved – and the previously secure defence has taken a knock as a result. Wolves are not the Premier League’s most terrifying attacking side, but they are probably the most patient, and if there are gaps to exploit they will find them. The visitors have already exceeded expectations this season, but their bid to accumulate points will come up dry here.
Our recommended tip: Draw/Wolves HT/FT
Since they made their return to the Premier League in the summer of 2018, Wolves have played like a side that belongs in the division. They get the ball down and play, and this commitment to possession football has seen them deliver wins against most opponents – including a “double” over defending champions Manchester City this season. It also means you can never switch off against them, as they have the players to make a killer pass at short notice. There’s little to separate these two sides, but we can see Wolves taking the points late on, to suit Coral’s 19/4 odds on that outcome.
When these sides met on the season’s opening weekend, it’s fair to say sparks failed to fly. The match ended 0-0, with the teams having possibly two decent goalscoring chances between them.
The last encounter at Molineux, though, was absorbing enough for an entire season of matches. Wolves led 2-0 within twelve minutes, through Diogo Jota and Ryan Bennett. It stayed that way until half-time, and at the start of the second period Leicester narrowed and then closed the gap, Demarai Gray scoring on 47, four minutes before a Conor Coady own-goal. Jota then put the hosts back in front on 64, and there was still time for Wes Morgan to equalise before, three minutes into time added on, the Portuguese forward completed his hat-trick and won the game for Wolves.
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Players to watch: Daniel Podence & Harvey Barnes
A late arrival at the end of the transfer window, Podence is another name to add to the list of Portuguese players that Wolves have attracted to a set-up with an increasingly Iberian feel. The winger has performed to a high standard this season with previous club Olympiakos, scoring a stunning goal against Tottenham in the Champions League. Previously at Sporting Lisbon, Podence is comfortable in a possession-based system and should slot right in at his new club.
Leicester have not been short of players outperforming expectations this season, and it’s credit to Barnes that he has been a standout among such company. The left-winger has improved before the eyes of the King Power faithful, going from a raw prospect with pace to a player on the fringes of the England squad. He’s also shown an impressive versatility, operating at times as more of a number ten and even on occasion as the furthest man forward in a 4-1-4-1 formation. At 22, he still has plenty of potential, too.