I think it would be fair to say that from game-week 23 onwards that Wolves have delivered and are showing all the signs that they can be classed as best of the rest in their first season back in the Premier League. This would be an outstanding achievement and accompanied with what could be a memorable FA Cup campaign it is shaping up to be a season to remember. The change of formation from 3-4-3 to a 3-5-2 has transformed our season and made us a much bigger goal threat as reflected in our recent score-lines. Scoring four and three goals twice in our last three league games. Raul Jimenez and Diogo Jota have grabbed the headlines recently, with Jimenez being well on his way to be an FPL cult hero. With those pair being in the form they are though it has opened the door for the midfield three to become interesting differential picks who are also extremely cheap.
Ruben Neves 4.9M
At the start of the season Neves was one of the most sought players to have from the beginning given his stellar performances in the Championship and priced at 5M. I said although he is a fantastic player at a good price, he will not return the consistent points they seemed to think he would get. He then predictably hauls on the opening day with a goal and an assist ending the game on 12 points. He then goes 10 game-weeks without returning followed by 13 weeks without nothing, and then only one blank to take us up to the Everton game. Neves is now benefitting from the return to form of Jota as the former can pick out Jota’s runs much more frequently, therefore increasing the chance of Neves getting assists. The perfect example of this was against Leicester where he simply looked up and put Jota through to score his second of the match. The pair have even spoken about how they link up and when Neves gets the ball then Jota will make the run.
Interestingly also Neves appears to be on penalties. He scored his third league goal of the season at the weekend after Matt Doherty was fouled in the box. It was his second penalty of the season and drew my attention for a reason. His first penalty was taken against Spurs after Jimenez was fouled, so the Mexican gave it to Neves. In the same game Jonny is then fouled but Jimenez takes it and scores. So, given that Neves just had the ball when Doherty won the penalty suggests to me that Neves may indeed be our first-choice penalty taker.
Leander Dendoncker 4.3M
The big Belgian had been a figure of mystery until December 29th where he finally made his first start for Wolves in the league. Since then he has not looked back and has been one of the main reasons for our current form. His presence in midfield frees up our more creative players to attack freely and give us a platform to dominate games. He tirelessly wins the ball back and uses it well and his height is very useful in both defensive and attacking situations. The ‘Donk’ as he is affectionately nicknamed has shown to me in the games so far that he is capable of returning attacking points. He gets around the pitch quite well and is becoming a box to box midfielder. He managed to score his first goal against Everton with a thunderous volley inside the box and was named man of the match. For 4.3M he is a certain starter and carries somewhat of a goal threat given his style and threat from set pieces, so for some the 0.5% owned Dendoncker could become a very useful enabler.
Joao Moutinho 5.3M
Saving the best until last, it is the one and only Joao Moutinho. The 32-year-old arrived from Monaco for just 5M and drew attention of acclaim but also some who said it was his last pay day and that he would not care. They could not be more wrong. Since arriving in the Summer, Moutinho has been a leader and is already being touted as one of the best to wear the shirt. It should not be a shock really as he is a Portuguese legend. Like Neves, the form of Moutinho right now has coincided with the change in formation and presence of Dendoncker. The position of Moutinho is the furthest forward of the trio and he effortlessly links up attacks and is a joy to watch. I wrote very early on in the season that Moutinho did offer a cheap set piece taker role, which never really got into gear as we ended up being quite weak at scoring from set pieces. This has now dramatically changed, as Moutinho has managed to rack up an eye catching five assists already in 2019, more than any other player in Europe’s top five leagues this calendar year so far.
His delivery has been consistent and bang on the money, the only free-kicks he doesn’t take is when it is a good angle and range for Neves to strike at goal. His last three outings have produced scores of 10,11 and six. We appear to have stepped up our set piece game, so this makes Moutinho a very attractive option especially at 5.3M, this is likely to rise though given the sheer amount of transfers in already. It is also worth mentioning that Moutinho is a bonus point magnet given how often he is on the ball and hardly gives it away, he is also Wolves top tackler this season producing 81 so far. He even got bonus points against Fulham away for winning nine of them in the game. The only downside is that Moutinho himself is not likely to score. He has only scored once so far this season and has only produced 13 shots in the league.
To put it simply Moutinho is the oil which makes the machine run, he does the simple things brilliantly and it makes all the difference.