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Talking Tactics

Emergence of Neto adding to Wolves threat

Adrian Clarke 20 Jan 2020
Pedro Neto

Adrian Clarke says Liverpool should not underestimate the growing influence of 19-year-old forward when they visit Molineux

Adrian Clarke is looking at key tactical points ahead of Matchweek 24.

Plotting a way to keep Raul Jimenez and Adama Traore quiet will form an essential part of Liverpool's game plan for Thursday night's trip to Molineux. 

But the league leaders should not underestimate the third player in Wolverhampton Wanderers' attacking unit. 

Nineteen-year-old Pedro Neto became Wolves' youngest-ever Premier League goalscorer against Watford on New Year's Day and has become a growing influence. 

Having replaced the injured Diogo Jota in the side, the forward signed from Lazio has made impressive contributions in both wide and central areas.

For Liverpool to maintain their unbeaten 12-month league record, they must pay close attention to the Portuguese youngster.

Instant impact

Neto has only made five Premier League starts for Nuno Espirito Santo's side but has made a positive impact each time. 

He set up Matt Doherty for a goal with a terrific low cross on his full debut at home to Watford in September.  

He found the net against Liverpool at Anfield on his second start, only to be denied by a marginal offside decision.

Since then, Neto has scored a long-range strike at Watford, forced Newcastle United goalkeeper Martin Dubravka into a world-class save and netted again in the 3-2 comeback victory at Southampton last weekend.

Neto's goal at Southampton 

In the same match, Neto's defence-splitting pass helped Wolves earn a penalty with his side trailing 2-1. 

Sandwiched between those outings he had another effort disallowed, this time against Manchester United in the FA Cup.

Equally comfortable using his left or right foot and cool inside the final third, Neto is displaying real promise. 

Within Nuno's preferred 3-4-2-1 formation, Jota and Traore have generally been the two players operating behind Jimenez. 

But when Jota returns from injury, as he could against Liverpool, he will have a fight on his hands to displace Neto.  

He is quick when travelling with the ball, so is ideal for Wolves's counter-attacking style.

Neto v Jota 2019/20
Contribution Neto Jota
Mins/goal 262.5 464.7
Mins/assist 262.5 N/A
Completed dribbles* 2.7 2.5
Key passes* 1.2 1.1
Open-play crosses* 3.8 1.6
Passes into opp. box* 3.1 2.1

*per 90 minutes

As the table above shows, Neto's creative output is better than Jota's.

Against Southampton he was excellent on the right, but equally effective when moving into a No 10 role behind Traore and Jimenez.

Neto is able to switch positions seamlessly to offer his head coach wonderful tactical variety, so it will be fascinating to see where he plays against Liverpool.

Despite his inexperience, Neto is a wild card who can hurt Jurgen Klopp's star-studded side.

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