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Talking Tactics

Boly presence vital to Wolves defence

Adrian Clarke 27 Feb 2020
Willy Boly, Wolves

Adrian Clarke explains why Nuno's side are more resilient with their centre-back ahead of trip to Tottenham Hotspur

Adrian Clarke looks at key tactical points ahead of Matchweek 28.

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Willy Boly's return from injury has given a major boost to Wolverhampton Wanderers’ top-four ambitions.

The 29-year-old was sidelined between mid-October and the start of February with a broken ankle.

Wolves sorely missed the giant defender's presence, collecting just one clean sheet in 16 matches.

Since Boly has come back into the team, Wolves are yet to concede a goal in three Premier League outings against Manchester United, Leicester City and Norwich City.

Studying Wolves’ defensive record with and without Boly, there is an argument that he is the Premier League’s most influential centre-back.

This season he has been worth a goal per match for Nuno Espirito Santo's side.

Wolves with and without Boly
2019/20 With  Without 
Matches  11 16
Goals conceded 7 25
Goals conceded/match 0.6 1.6
Defeats 1 5

Without his 6ft 5in centre-back, the Wolves head coach used the versatile Leander Dendoncker in a deeper role and gave opportunities to Maximilian Kilman and Ryan Bennett.

They each performed well, but Boly’s unique authority proved irreplaceable.

His physicality makes Wolves tougher to breach and Boly blends aggression in his duels with a calming aura on the ball.

A prominent figure during the promotion season, his understanding of the team’s tactical approach cannot be overstated.

Boly's defensive stats
2019/20 Per 90 Wolves rank 
Aerials won 4.6 1st
Headed clearances  3.4 1st
Clearances 5.7 1st 
Interceptions 2.0 1st 
Duels won 8.1 2nd

Playing to the right of Conor Coady and inside wing-back Matt Doherty, Boly has built strong relationships with his two team-mates.

When the trio feature together, as they likely will at Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday, it gives confidence to the whole side.

Also in this series

Part 1: Van Aanholt key to positive Palace approach
Part 2: Shaw rising to task of flexible Man Utd role 
Part 3: Sarr return can reinvigorate Watford attack 
Part 5: Why Nuno may restore Traore to Wolves attack

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