Wolves are struggling to deal with the demands of the Europa League

They pulled off the result of the season at Manchester City, but that victory was just papering over the cracks.

By Martin Laurence for WhoScored.

After a slow start in which they picked up just three points from their first five league games, Wolves have now gone six unbeaten in all competitions. That run of results includes an impressive 2-0 victory against Manchester City – only the fourth time Pep Guardiola has been on the losing side at the Etihad in the Premier League – but Wolves fans still have reasons for concern.

After finishing seventh in the league last season – and securing a place in Europe for the first time since 1981 – their performances this season have been underwhelming. Their 1-1 draw at home to Southampton on Saturday means Wolves have now picked up just seven points from a possible 18 against teams that finished below them last season. It was also the sixth league game this season in which they have conceded the first goal – a joint Premier League high so far. Sluggish starts have not been uncommon since their return to the top flight but their reliance on late goals could prove more problematic this time around.

Last season Wolves scored as many goals in the final 15 minutes of matches as they managed in the first half (17). Only four teams scored fewer first-half goals. This season their reliance on late heroics has been even more evident. Just two of their 12 goals so far have come in the first half. No side has scored fewer first-half goals and no side has scored more goals in the final 30 minutes (nine).

Their ability to rally late in games shows impressive fight and fitness, but it may not be sustainable. The additional responsibility of playing in the Europa League may take its toll. They have already played eight games in the competition and we have not yet reached the halfway point in the group stage. Wolves’ ability to come on strong in games may be a result of a tactical approach that helps them save energy in the early stages of matches, but their stamina will be tested more as the season progresses.

They have only taken 80 shots in the league so far this season – the worst return for all 20 teams in the league. Last season, they averaged 12.6 shots per game; that figure is down to 8.9 this season – and they are averaging just 3.6 shots in the first half of games, which is the lowest in the league. There is a worrying drop in creativity in the team.

A number of key players are underperforming. The team deserved to qualify for the Europa League last season, however they were also fortunate to avoid serious injuries. Only 13 Wolves players reached double figures for league starts last season; this season 14 players have started a third or more of the club’s league matches.

You can read the rest of the article on The Guardian.

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