Championship

Nuno must not tinker with Wolves Premier League ready defence

 • by James Nalton
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Wolverhampton Wanderers have secured their place at the top of the Championship, and with it promotion to the Premier League. Their impressive campaign has been possible thanks to an outstanding attack which has racked up 82 goals in the league, which puts them first for goals scored, as well as points, this term.

But on top of this, and something which may have gone under the radar, is that the club have also conceded the fewest goals in the league, allowing just 36 in 45 games.

Though this has looked good in the Championship, it will be difficult, likely impossible, to repeat these impressive overall numbers in the Premier League, but they will have to take it with them for the games against similar standard of opposition around the mid-table and lower regions of the division.

The club now face some tough decisions when it comes to which players they decide to keep for the top flight, and which of those who helped them gain promotion they might need to discard.

Defence is usually one of the areas of a team which sees casualties, as promoted clubs look to bring at least one experienced head to help them at the back, but there are precedents for clubs who have stuck with the same personnel — Bournemouth, for example.

Wolves have the likes of Conor Coady — a former Liverpool player, but one who only made one Premier League appearance for them — and local boy Danny Batth who will be looking to test themselves at a higher level.

Batth is the club captain, but has played fewer games than Coady who has also worn the armband this season.

Batth is the most impressive in the air of Wolves defenders, winning 4.8 aerial duels per 90 minutes compared to Willy Boly’s 4.1, Ryan Bennett’s 3.9, Roderick Miranda’s 3.1, and Coady’s 0.9.

This hints that the Scouser is the ball-playing defender rather than the one who wins the aerial balls, and this is backed up by the stats which show he is the most accurate passer in the team with 90 percent of his passes finding their target.

Batth and Miranda commit the most fouls with 1.7 per 90′, with Coady conceding the fewest at 0.5 per 90′ on average.

One defensive aspect Coady does lead the way in is blocking shots, and he makes almost one per game in the middle of the back three with 0.8 per 90′, compared to Batth’s 0.6.

Batth is the king of the clearance with 6.6 per 90′ with Coady’s 3.6 combining with his passing stats to reinfoce the idea that he’s the ball-playing defender who could do well in the Premier League, which helped by the fact he used to play in midfield.

Boly leads the way in terms of interceptions with two per game compared to Batth’s 1.4 and Coady’s 1.

Coady, Boly, and Bennett are the players who have made the most appearances this season, but captain Batth will be hoping to feature in the top flight too, and if the club retain their three centre back system, he could have a chance.

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