Adrian Clarke looks at key tactical points in Matchweek 25.
Nuno Espirito Santo may have found the key to unlocking Wolverhampton Wanderers’ attacking potential with his tactical change last time out.
When Wolves host Leeds United, they could line up in the same formation that proved so effective in the second half at Southampton on Sunday.
Trailing 1-0 in that match, Nuno switched Pedro Neto and Adama Traore to the opposite flanks at half-time.
Neto moved to the right, and Traore to the left, with both players also encouraged to take up narrower positions to support Willian Jose, who had been isolated up front.
This combination worked well during the second half, with Neto scoring a superb solo goal as Wolves fought back to win 2-1.
By occupying central areas more regularly, the duo simultaneously freed up extra space for the wing-backs to flourish.
It will be fascinating to see if Nuno gives his two star men similar freedom to roam against Leeds.
Wolves have scored 25 times this season. Only Fulham (20), West Bromwich Albion (19), Burnley (18) and Sheffield United (15) have found the net on fewer occasions.
The loss of key striker Raul Jimenez to injury has of course been a major factor, but in Neto and Traore they possess two of the league's most dangerous wide forwards.
They are quick, skillful dribblers who provide regular crosses and offer creativity.
|2020/21||Neto||PL rank||Traore||PL rank|
|Succ. open-play crosses||24||2nd||15||12th|
|Open-play chances created||32||8th||32||8th|
Neto’s five goals and four assists show what he can offer, but the 20-year-old is capable of producing even more direct goal involvements.
He has registered just 16 shots on target, ranked 29th in the competition, and for a player of his ability that figure needs to rise.
Meanwhile, Traore is yet to score or assist this term despite posting some incredible statistics in general play.
Using the pair in a more fluid three-man forward line could be the best way to get more of an end product from Neto and Traore.
The extra freedom should in theory make them more elusive and get them into better goalscoring positions.
It may also provide valuable support for on-loan striker Jose, who is still waiting for his first goal five matches into his Premier League career.
Wolves will surely target a fast start at home against a Leeds side who have conceded 42 goals this season, second only to the 55 let in by 19th-placed West Brom.
Nuno's team have taken too long to get into their stride in 2020/21, and have relied heavily on strong second-half performances.
|Fewest opening goals scored||Best points average when scoring first|
Meanwhile, Leeds have conceded 17 goals in the first half of away matches this season, five more than any other Premier League team.
Adopting a bolder approach from the first whistle is often a good strategy against Marcelo Bielsa's side.
Nuno can set the tone by giving Neto and Traore the freedom they enjoyed in the second half at Southampton, this time from the start.
Part 2: Doucoure can drive Everton to rare derby win
Part 3: Ceballos can help Arsenal press Man City
Part 4: Mac Allister could help Brighton make possession count