With football finally set to return this month, so does FPL but not in the way it usually is. We are heading into a large unknown as there is no form to go on, no crowd, more subs and some teams will certainly return stronger than others. I believe that Wolves will be one of the stronger teams to return. Firstly, we have already proved this season we do very well with a small squad and a congested fixture list, we looked stronger in the weeks where we had to play twice. We also have a lot still to play for with an outside chance of making the top four and at least securing our place again in the Europa League for next season. Finally, there is no way Nuno, or our background staff will not have us fully prepared for the restart. With how the whole premise of the league has now changed I thought it would be worthwhile to profile the players and what I think about their playing time etc when we return. As I think quite a few people will be targeting Wolves players given their quality and decent fixture run. Also, whilst Traore, Neto and Podence are classed as midfielders I will be putting them in the forwards section as that is what effectively they are in our system.
Rui Patricio – Patricio has had a very underrated season. Earlier on in the season especially he kept us in quite a few games with crucial stops, which then put us in the position to go on and win the game. He has a great presence about him as you would expect from a top keeper. He’s currently sixth in the overall keepers for points on FPL, the only problem for Patricio is that the best keeper currently is Nick Pope who is 4.9M and second best Dean Henderson who is only 0.1M higher than Patricio who is 5.2. A lot of people already have those two in their squads so I can understand them not swapping out. I think Patricio has a great chance of getting at least a top three spot as the points gap between the keepers is tiny, combine this with a good fixture list on paper and he has a chance. He will play every game too, so he may prove a decent differential to someone who does not already own Pope or Henderson.
John Ruddy– Only going to play if Patricio is injured and would never be an option anyway as our chances of a clean sheet drop quickly without Patricio in goal.
Matt Doherty– A big hit last season as his cheap starting price combined with his attacking style made him a must own. This led to a price jump this year which many people were turned off by, but he has shown his prowess again this season by being one of the best in FPL. Currently sixth in the defenders table but there is no way he is finishing there. The top three defenders will remain the same and they are the Liverpool big three of Van Dijk, TAA and Robertson. The two players above him are John ‘Lord’ Lundstram who is no longer a guaranteed starter and the injured Ricardo Pereira. Doherty is owned by less than 10% of the game and I am backing him to have a big impact on the return of the league.
The Irishman is without doubt one of the fittest players we have had in a long time, the amount of ground he covers in every game and to recover and do the same a few days later is astonishing. With some teams coming back somewhat lethargic I can imagine the runs of Doherty causing huge problems for other teams, especially as he now comes inside a lot more thanks to Adama Traore taking up the space on the wing. He has four league goals and eight in all competitions this season, which for a defender is outstanding. Only one assist however, as Traore is now taking up the positions he would usually be crossing from. Doherty is also extremely unlikely to not start every game, like I mentioned before his fitness is outstanding and he has no real competition for his spot and is a crucial cog in our team. I would really recommend getting him in your team.
Oskar Burr– If you want a 4M bench fodder defender then he might be your man. With the rules changing with the number of subs available on the bench I feel he has a decent chance of appearing on the bench. He is a right back but has only made a few first team appearances, I am not convinced he is physical enough for the Premier League.
Conor Coady– The skipper is probably the most reliable outfield player in FPL that I can think of. He is never injured and plays almost all the games since Nuno took over. It is not often you can rely on someone like this especially in an age of rotation, it is a testament to him and Nuno’s belief in his importance to the side. If points were handed out for the pass to the guy who sets up the goal then Coady would be a great FPL asset, unfortunately Coady is the least likely outfield player to score or assist. He never goes up for corners and his passing range whilst impressive is always used to spread the play rather than a punt to a striker. I find his price too high at 5.1M as he is limited to how many points is likely to get. If you really do not want to mess around with the risk of rotation, then Coady will be the one for you. I would be shocked if he did not start every game if he is available.
Willy Boly– Boy how did we miss the colossal Frenchman when he broke his foot just before gameweek 10. Although results wise, we did a lot better than I was expecting we were not exactly rock solid and gave away some stupid goals in his absence. Boly is one of the best centre backs in the league, his power, aerial dominance and technique in the tackle and on the ball are traits which are hard to come by now. His presence in the team cannot be understated. His thirteen league appearances this season have coincided with seven clean sheets, that is no fluke. If Boly is playing, then we are going to be extremely hard to break down. I feel he will play all the games as he does not usually get rotated ever given his importance. At 4.8M he is a bargain and offers a different option to Doherty if you want a Wolves defender, he is a bonus magnet and a goal threat from set pieces given his sheer size. If you do not want to spend the extra money on Doherty, Boly is for sure the next best option.
Romain Saiss- The Moroccan international was gathering a few FPL fans before the enforced break, due to him nailing down the position of the left sided centre back. Saiss is certainly enjoying his best season in a Wolves shirt as his game has stepped up quite a bit in recent months after Boly’s injury. He was mostly used as a midfielder before Nuno decided to use him in the defence like his country does. He is a fan favourite too and is certainly one of my favourite players given his personality and performances on the pitch. Saiss is as tough as nails, calm on the ball and his distribution is also particularly good. Since playing at the back it is noticeable that we do look more balanced. Unlike Coady, Saiss does go up for corners and has an occasional goal in him. At 4.6 he starts out a decent price for a budget defender. Saiss will certainly start the season where he left off on the left of the back three, but his flexibility will see him move some games. I personally would avoid the Moroccan international as I think his chances of missing a game are certainly higher than the defenders I have mentioned before.
Max Kilman- The academy graduate has taken his chances this season when called upon especially in Europe and against Liverpool away which saw him largely contain Mo Salah. He is also the cheapest Wolves player in FPL at 3.9M and will certainly be on the bench at least when we restart. Being left footed he is most likely to replace Saiss in the line-up if he is needed to be called upon. Given his performances this season I would have full confidence in him doing a good job. He is particularly good on the ball given he used to be a futsal player but also has the physicality needed in the topflight, unlike a certain Spanish defender we signed last summer…. If you want the cheapest bench fodder who has a slight chance of a start at some point, then Kilman is for you.
Jonny – The break came at a good time for the Spanish wingback as he had suffered an ankle injury and we were not sure when he would return. Thankfully now he is back fully fit and refreshed for the restart. Jonny is probably one of the most underrated players in the league. He very rarely puts a foot wrong in a game and his reading of the game is excellent, not many beat him. Despite this however, the attacking side of his game when it comes to assists and goals is poor. He only has one goal and one assist in the league this season. If he were cheaper than I could overlook this but the game value of him currently is 5.4M which is just far too high for a defender who is not a goal threat. I cannot understand why he was priced so high originally anyway as it was the same story for him last season going forward. Jonny is likely to miss some games as we have Ruben Vinagre behind him, and he will certainly get some game time. Despite being an incredibly good player Jonny is just not an FPL option so avoid.
Ruben Vinagre- The 21-year-old is currently valued at 4.2M in FPL which could end up being a real stand out pick in the right moment. He is rapid and full of skill as James himself would attest to after seeing him perform at Spurs away. Jonny is nice and steady but Vinagre is the opposite, he is full throttle and is far more threatening going forward which would be great, if he was a nailed starter. Jonny is currently the first-choice left wing back and will take some pushing out of the side, but Vinagre is certainly able to push Jonny. Unlike Jonny however he is not as steady defensively and sometimes his positioning I find to not be great at times. He is still young however, and this will improve in time. He will certainly start some games as we will need his thrust in some games particularly against more defensive sides and it would be stupid to burn Jonny out. If you are a brave FPL player who might fancy risking him a start every so often then go for it.
Ruben Neves- Since the start of the year the Portuguese international has been in immense form and certainly seems to have added to his already impressive game, particularly defensively. He was breaking up many attacks and then setting us on our own counter attacks with his impressive passing range. He is now really dominating games and controlling the tempo, it is scary his best is still to come as he is still only 23. Make no mistake Neves is a world class footballer and we are incredibly lucky to have him, he is starting to remind me of Xabi Alonso. In FPL terms he is a strange one to own. With just two goals and one assist in the league this season you would think he is certainly one to avoid. As we all know though his ability to score from anywhere knows no bounds and most importantly, he takes the occasional penalty. Him and Raul often take it in turns to take penalties, whilst it is not something to rely on, I thought it might be worth mentioning for people looking for differentials. He is currently 5.2M though so I am not sure he offers the value you would be looking for if you start him every week. Neves is naturally going to play most of the games. We are a completely different side without him, I think he will be benched though at some point to avoid burning him out.
Joao Moutinho- Like a fine wine the 33-year-old just seems to get better and better, although in the twilight of his career his appetite to compete and win is still burning strong. I think a lot of people do not see how good he really is in this country. When you watch him play, I am shocked he never played for one of the biggest clubs in the world. They are stories of nearly transfers which did not happen for one reason or another which was a massive loss to those sides. He is already considered by many Wolves fans who have watched some of greats to be one of the best if not the best player to put on the shirt, which is some accolade given he has only been here two years so far.
A great passer of the ball, reader of the game, tackler of the ball and an ability to keep his cool when put under pressure he has all the key traits you want in a midfielder. Just like Neves he is a world class footballer and I think you only appreciate it when you watch him regularly. Moutinho was being picked by a few more people this season as a differential and that one reason is set pieces. He is an extremely accurate crosser of the ball and has six assists in the league this season with a further seven in the Europa League. Prior to the suspension of the season the four gameweeks before had him top of the successful crosses chart with 14. One thing Moutinho will not offer is goals however, he only has two for Wolves and one this season. He hardly shoots so do not expect much! His current price is 5.4M and I think that is decent for a differential who will tick over with the assist points. People might assume because of his age he will miss more games, but I do not think he will. When we were playing games for Europa League qualifying, he played in every game and I was quite shocked as I was worried we had flogged him too much, but he just gets stronger and stronger which is a testament to his professionalism. I would not be shocked if he started every game.
Leander Dendoncker- The big Belgian was a popular pick at the start of this season, given in the second half of last season where we used him as a box to box midfielder who popped up with an occasional goal. With his price at 4.5M it was even more appealing, and I was one of those who had him in gameweek one, where he was robbed of a goal thanks to VAR. The emergence of Traore has seen Wolves go back to the 3-4-3 system more often which has hit the amount of starts Dendoncker gets in midfield. The injury to Boly saw him start games in defence and he largely did a solid job, but you would not like to own a midfielder who plays at the back. Nuno will use him a lot off the bench if he does not start so he is likely to play quite a lot of minutes over the restart given his ability to play two positions and allow Wolves to change how they want to play tactically. He could annoy some managers though if he ends up taking a place at the back one game, despite being a goal threat with his size I would not have Dendoncker in your team even though he will see a lot of minutes.
Morgan Gibbs-White- The England youth international has had a poor season. He has hardly featured and whilst some of that is due to injuries when he has been available, he has not seen the game time. Ever since his performance at home to Chelsea last season he has not kicked on in the slightest if anything he has gone backwards. We have not seen a single glimpse of the potential we saw when he first started making first team appearances and there is feeling amongst Wolves fans that he let the hype get to his head. His recent behaviour of the pitch did nothing to dismiss this when he went to a party with losers from Love Island. The matter has been dealt with internally but Nuno is well known to be strict when it comes to discipline so it shall be interesting to see what happens going into next season. Personally, I would loan him out and see how he does before selling him. If he cannot take his chance at Wolves with Nuno it will prove a massive regret for him to look back on. I think with the increased size of the bench he will be on it, but I cannot see him coming on much. An easy one to avoid for FPL.
Bruno Jordao- The 21-year-old is probably not known to many outside of Wolves but he joined the club last summer for 8M alongside Pedro Neto from Lazio. He has been very unfortunate this season as he suffered a bad injury in his full debut in the league cup against Reading. He also scored in this game and from the time he was on the pitch he caught my eye. Jordao showed good technical ability and unlike Neves and Moutinho who sit in midfield, Jordao once he passed the ball kept creeping up the pitch which eventually led him to taking up his position to score his goal. His games with the youth teams since his injury showed he was just a bit too good for that level and he has made some appearances on the bench now in the first team. If it were not for his injury, I think he would have featured in games and like his friend Neto got stronger as the season went on. I expect him to make his Premier League debut at some point in the restart but is naturally not an option for FPL.
Raul Jimenez- The Mexican needs no introduction as he is one of the most popular players in FPL and one of the best forwards in the league. In 29 League games this season he has 13 goals and nine assists with a further nine goals in the Europa League and four assists. There was a lot of worry when he returned victorious from the Gold Cup in the Summer to play in our early Europa games as we feared a burn out would happen quickly. Whilst there were certainly times, I thought the Mexican was tired he like many others in the squad seemed to get stronger as the season went on. Even with the option of Cutrone to lighten the load (not now) Nuno always picked Raul and with no competition for his place and the past indicating Nuno will flog Raul, I think that makes him one of the safest picks in the game. His current price of 8.1M is only going to increase and his current ownership is a whopping 32.8%. His first three games are very enticing too against very shaky defences in West Ham, Bournemouth and Aston Villa. Raul is an all-round complete striker he has it all he is a great finisher, header of the ball, strong, quick, intelligent and is our main man in attack. He has been involved in 46% of our league goals so far this season, just like Doherty I can see Raul picking up some serious points in the remaining games. It is simple enough just like we chant “Si Senor, give the ball to Raul and he will score.”
Diogo Jota- Any regular listener of the podcast and followers of mine on Twitter will know just how much I love Jota. Like last season he was a slow starter in the league this year as a few niggles from our Europa qualifying campaign crept in and it kept him from being his explosive best. From December we started to see him being back to his best with a hat-trick from the bench against Besiktas before another niggle kept him out for a few games. 2020 has seen Jota bag another hat-trick against Espanyol, a brace against Norwich and an outstanding performance away to Spurs with a goal and an assist. If you have seen the goal, he creates for Raul in the Spurs game that was him at his best a cheeky flick past Lucas and then a powerful run at Spurs before slipping into Raul to finish. It was dynamite. He may be small but he is one of the strongest and toughest players at the club. He is not pushed off the ball easily and he can barge his way through anybody. His general aggressiveness is what many Wolves fans love about him; he takes no prisoners, combine that with his skill and finishing and you have a fan favourite. He has six league goals this season but 15 in all competitions. If he can keep niggle free then he could be one hell of a pick with his current price of 6.4M, but that would probably mean you go without Raul, so it is not for the faint hearted. He will start most of the games but will be subbed at points and he will sit out some games to avoid a niggle, I think. Be it playing left wing or upfront with Raul, Jota has the potential to really explode and reward any of his owners on the restart. If he is at his best, then the whole team is better for it.
Adama Traore- The man of a million questions for me this season from followers. He has become one of the most feared players in world football this season. Traore has finally added the much-needed end product to his frightening pace, strength and dribbling. He has spoken in the media about much of an effect Nuno has had on him and how he believes in him and what he tells him. He is currently on seven league assists this term which is joint fourth and four league goals. Not bad for a player with no product according to some. He has combined with Raul a lot this season to make them a popular double up over the season.
Without doubt he is one of the most unique players in football and the most difficult to stop. Even when he does not score or assist, he can have a huge say in the game. For example teams often double up on him and panic when he gets the ball leaving space for others to exploit, he can also turn a loose pass into a rapid counter attack as he will leave players for dead in a second, that ability to get up the pitch quickly is key in how Wolves counter attack. Before the suspension he was troubled by a shoulder issue which was being managed which led to a bit of a guessing game as to when he would start and come off etc. With the time off I can only assume his shoulder is no longer an issue and he has been training normally with the team. Given Nuno favours the 3-4-3 I think he will start most games but will certainly be taken off and benched at some points. At 5.7M I think he is a decent pick given he is a player who can return against anyone.
Pedro Neto- 13M was spent on the then 19-year-old Portuguese wide man in the summer and was met with a lot of who is this? Fast forward to now and Neto has improved extremely and is a popular player at Wolves. He has proved himself in the absence of Jota to be someone we can rely on. He has played on the wing, upfront and behind the striker this season and has done well in them all. He possesses fantastic balance, ability to glide past people and is deceptively fast. He has two goals and assists in the league this term, but it is worth remembering his minutes and starts are not as much as others. He was Wolves last scorer before the break with a goal in the Europa against Olympiacos. He is certainly pushing Jota and Traore to perform as he continues to improve as he is quite capable of taking his chance if given it. He is currently 5M on FPL and whilst I do not think he is currently an option he will certainly start some games most likely in the place of Jota. He is one to watch for next season for sure he is one of the best young players in the league.
Daniel Podence- The diminutive winger only joined the club in January from Olympiacos and has not had much chance yet to get into any thoughts really FPL wise. From what we have seen so far, he is rapid, has a great centre of gravity and is a good carrier of the ball. In his only start so far away to Espanyol he managed to get two assists and from what I watched I was glad to see he always had his head up looking for the pass, instead of running down corridors. He is 5.1M in FPL but like I said I cannot recommend him he is likely to be coming on a sub more and logically Neto would be picked first to play in the absence of Jota or Traore.
With all the unknowns we are heading into there is one thing for certain I can say for Wolves. We will not change too much, and we have a lot to play for and do not mind a packed schedule.