Verdict: Wolves win
Best Odds: 6/5
After running away with the Championship last year and almost breaking the 100 point barrier, Nuno Espírito Santo’s Wolves side have seen plenty of new faces come through the door at Molineux and will fancy their chances of making an immediate statement in the Premier League. Kicking off their campaign on Saturday, Wolves will play host to an Everton side who endured a torrid pre-season.
Starting with Saturday’s hosts, after lifting the Championship title with a nine-point buffer over Cardiff, many have Nuno Espírito Santo’s Wolves side tipped to be this years dark horses. Most recently adding former Barcelona winger Adama Traore from Middlesbrough in for a fee of around £18million, Wolves have now brought in 10 new players, including vastly experienced midfielder João Moutinho. With the board indicating they intend to make a play for Europe, Saturday’s hosts have continued their eye-catching form in their pre-season tour. Most recently coming off the back of a 2-1 win over La Liga side Villareal last week, Wolves only lost one of their seven pre-season outings and even more impressive for the hosts, they have only lost one match at Molineux this calendar year.
Wolves could hand debuts to World Cup players Rui Patricio, Joao Moutinho and Raul Jimenez, and Jonny may also play. But new signings Adama Traore and Leander Dendoncker are unlikely to be involved as neither has trained fully this week.
As for Everton, although many had hoped that former Watford boss Marco Silva would be the perfect man to lead them to Europe after replacing Sam Allardyce earlier in the summer, The Toffees appear to be struggling to find their feet. Even with the likes of Richarlison heading to Goodison for £40million last month, Everton have been drastically short of form in pre-season. Coming off the back of a 3-2 loss to La Liga side Valencia last time out, The Blues lost their final five pre-season matches on the bounce and it has been their defensive issues that will be causing Silva the biggest headache. With Wales captain Ashley Williams heading to Stoke on loan for the season, The Blues have now shipped 10 goals in their last three, including defeats to Rennes and a 3-0 hammering at the hands of lower-league Blackburn. After bringing in the likes of Andre Gomes and Bernard, Silva will be desperate to get his new men up to match fitness.
Everton pair Richarlison and Lucas Digne are set to play their first competitive game for the Toffees. But manager Marco Silva will not consider deadline-day acquisitions Yerry Mina, Andre Gomes or Bernard.
Key Factors to Consider
- Wolves ended their most recent Premier League season, in 2011-12, with a winless run of 14 games (D4, L10).
- Nuno Espirito Santo and Marco Silva met four times as head coaches during their time in charge of Portuguese sides Rio Ave and Estoril respectively, with each game won by the away team.
- Marco Silva is the first manager to take charge of three different clubs in his first three Premier League seasons (when those seasons have run consecutively).
- Wolves will be glad to know that the last four winners of the Championship have avoided relegation from the Premier League the following season.
- Richarlison registered five goals and four assists in his first 13 Premier League appearances for Watford, but contributed just one assist and no goals in his subsequent 25 games.
Given the gulf in form between the two sides entering the new season, on paper, it is hard to see anything other than a Wolves win on Saturday. Boasting an astonishing home record that has seen just one home match since January 20th, Wolves appear to be a side just going from strength to strength and the likes of Moutinho and Traore are certainly a smart piece of business. Still riding a high from last season and tipped by many to be the best of the newly promoted sides, we are backing the Midlands side to hand Everton their sixth defeat on the bounce.
Verdict: Wolves win
Best Odds: 6/5
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