Ok ok before we get ahead of ourselves, I understand that there has been many a promoted side to come into the Premier League and start off well. But there’s something different about Nuno Santo’s team.
Wolves currently sit 11th in the league only a couple of points off the European places. Based on what they’ve shown in the first quarter of the season, there’s no reason why Wolves can’t qualify for the UEFA Europe League next season.
Here’s why Wolves are the best newly-promoted side in PL history.
I don’t remember the last time I saw a newly promoted side arrive in the Premier League playing a formation with three at the back. Most Championship teams play a rigid 4-4-2 that takes football back to the days of Bobby Charlton. This formation was often accompanied by a long-ball tactic that relies on having powerful unskilled centre-forwards. Not Wolves though, they stormed the league with a fluid 3-4-3 that adjusts to the situation at hand.
For example, it morphs into a 3-4-2-1 when under pressure, thus providing an extra layer of the press in the midfield. Nuno Santo has shown himself to be a flexible manager that is more than competent in an ever-changing Premier League. Arsenal under Arsène Wenger is the best example of a team that wasn’t flexible, resulting in them coming unstuck. The Wanderers won’t have such an issue as Nuno has trained his players to constantly adapt during the course of 90 minutes.
The Stats Behind the Success
Wolves were the first team in Premier League history to name the same starting XI in their first nine league games. Such consistency can only have a positive effect as it creates a sense of cohesion on the pitch and harmony in the dressing room. That unity can be seen through their rather impressive statistics.
In their 12 league games thus far, the Wanderers have won on average 19.8 aerials a game, 17.8 tackles and 13.6 interceptions a game. These figures not only prove that every single Wolves player is committed to the cause, but that they’re a well-drilled and hard-working side.
Record vs. Top 6
Never has a newly promoted team come into the Premier League and so wholeheartedly taken on the biggest teams in the league. In their first 11 games, Wolves have already faced Manchester City, Manchester United, Tottenham and Arsenal. For most promoted sides, that would equate to four defeats and not just defeats, possible thrashings.
Instead, Nuno Santo’s army was able to hold City to a 1-1 draw, a game that showed the potential of this team. Then they went to Old Trafford and completely outplayed Jose’s multi-millionaires in a game United were lucky to escape with a point.
They fell in heroic fashion to Tottenham at home, only narrowly losing 3-2 in a thriller that pushed Spurs to their absolute limit. And then after all that, they went to the Emirates and completely dominated Unai Emery’s new-look Arsenal. The newly-promoted side put in a brave performance in North London as they had more shots (13) than Arsenal, made more tackles (19), more interceptions (28) and shots on target (5). It was only through a fluke Henrikh Mkhitaryan goal that the Gunners were able to spare their blushes. But the point remains, Wolves are going toe to toe with the best teams in the league and besting them in most departments