Julen Lopetegui is loving life at Molineux after overseeing a rapid revival of Wolves’ fortunes, though he believes his team still have some way to go to ensure safety ahead of Saturday’s meeting with Bournemouth.
Wolves fought back with 10 men to clinch a 2-1 win at Southampton last week, having thrashed Liverpool 3-0 in their previous fixture.
They are now five points clear of the relegation zone, having sat bottom of the Premier League with just 10 points when Lopetegui took charge during the World Cup break.
“I feel good, and we are happy here managing Wolves and we’re always looking forward in our first aim, which is to be out of the relegation zone by the end of the season,” Lopetegui said when asked to sum up his first three months at the helm. “It’s going to be a really hard task, but we are here to try to do it and to help the team to improve, so in the last moments we can achieve our aim.
“They came to me because they wanted me to help build a good project. They waited for me in a key moment in my life and that’s why I’m here with a lot of our energy and very happy, and trying to help with a big responsibility, and trying to be happy and make our fans happy.”
Bournemouth are one point adrift of safety in 19th place, having gone seven Premier League games without a victory after last week’s 1-1 draw with Newcastle United, but boss Gary O’Neil sees positive signs.
“I think in training, we’ve seen an improvement. We have more players now, and more good players, so the level of training has stepped up a notch,” he said. “There’s more competition in terms of places, even places on the bench. There’s a competitiveness in the squad which is healthy.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Wolves – Adama Traore
Traore’s pace on the break helped Wolves turn around a 1-0 deficit at Southampton with 10 men last time out, and no Wolves forward has bettered his tally of 13 chances created in the Premier League this campaign. With injury doubts over some of his competitors for a starting spot, could the Spaniard step up again here?
Bournemouth – Neto
Bournemouth have averaged a concession every 80 minutes with Neto in goal in the Premier League this season (13 goals conceded, 1035 minutes), compared to once every 30 minutes with Mark Travers between the posts (31 goals conceded, 945 minutes). The Brazilian was named club captain recently, and he will need to be in top form at Molineux.
KEY OPTA FACTS
– Wolves have never lost in five previous Premier League meetings with Bournemouth (W3 D2), keeping three clean sheets and conceding just twice.
– Wolves have won three of their last four Premier League games (L1), as many as they had in their previous 25 (D7 L15). They’re looking to secure three consecutive top-flight victories for the first time since January 2022.
– Since beating Everton 3-0 in November, Bournemouth are winless in seven Premier League matches (D2 L5), scoring just two goals in this run. They’ve lost their last six away from home in the league, failing to score in each of the last four.
– Wolves have benefited from an own goal in their last two Premier League games, with Liverpool’s Joel Matip and Southampton’s Jan Bednarek putting past their own keepers. The only team to benefit from an own goal in three consecutive Premier League matches are Everton in April 2014.
– Wolves’ Diego Costa could make his 100th Premier League appearance in this match. He scored 52 goals in 89 appearances for Chelsea, compared to none in 10 with Wolves, while no player has had more shots on target without scoring than the Spaniard this season (eight).