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Talking Tactics

How Sarabia will give Wolves attack cutting edge

Adrian Clarke 2 Feb 2023

Adrian Clarke says midfielder has ability to make his new side more efficient in front of goal

Adrian Clarke looks at key tactical points and players who can be decisive in Matchweek 22.

Pablo Sarabia (WOL)

Wolverhampton Wanderers will be pinning their hopes on Sarabia's pedigree to increase their attacking creativity.

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Sarabia joined from Paris Saint-Germain in January and can play anywhere up front.

As 13 of his 17 appearances this season have come off the bench in Ligue 1 and the UEFA Champions League, he will be eager to make an instant impression.

Sarabia is likely to play extensively on the right, as an inverted winger in Julen Lopetegui’s preferred 4-2-3-1 formation.

He was used in this role during his Premier League debut, as a second-half substitute in Wolves' 3-0 loss at Manchester City.

Sarabia's attacking stats v Man City
Type Min Distance xG Outcome
Header 48 7 yards 13.07% Blocked
Left-foot shot 63 10 yards 7.12% Blocked
Left-foot shot 85 19 yards 6.43% Wide

It was a tough fixture to make his top-flight bow, but Sarabia did get in to some excellent goalscoring positions.

Three minutes after coming on, he had a close-range header blocked, before later having two left-footed attempts.

His three efforts added up to 0.3 xG, which was Wolves’ second-highest of the match, behind Daniel Podence.

Scoring struggles

Scoring has proved a longstanding problem for Wolves, who have failed to average more than one goal a match in each of the last two seasons.

Indeed their total of 12 goals from 20 Premier League matches, this season, is the lowest in the competition.

While they create more opportunities than most of their immediate rivals in the bottom half, Wolves' finishing needs to improve.

No team have a lower chance conversion rate than their 7.4 per cent.

Lowest PL goals/conversion rate 22/23
Fewest goals Lowest conversion rates
Wolves 12 Wolves 7.4%
Everton 15 West Ham 9.3%
Nott'm Forest 16 Nott'm Forest 10.1%

Adama Traore and Hwang Hee-chan have featured on the right of Wolves’ attack in recent months, providing one goal and one assist respectively.

The need for more productivity in that position is clear.

All-round quality

Sarabia is an attacking midfielder with solid all-round qualities.

He is not quick or blessed with tremendous flair, but can be a dependable source of end product.

Coming in off the right, Sarabia scored 16 league goals last season, including 15 on loan at Sporting Lisbon. He also supplied six assists.

At Sevilla in 2018/19, Sarabia scored 12 times and created 13 league goals.

Sarabia's 2018-22 season stats
Season Club Goals Assists Mins/goal contribution
2018/19 SEV 12 13 109.2
2019/20 PSG 4 3 166.4
2020/21 PSG 6 4 131.3
2021/22 SCP/PSG 16 6 95.86
Average - 9.5 6.5 125.7

In recent seasons, whenever the talented wide man has been a regular starter – and he is likely to be that at Wolves – he has delivered.

Across the previous four campaigns Sarabia has averaged just under 10 goals per season, making a direct goal contribution once every 125.7 minutes.

Wolves fans will be hoping Sarabia can replicate that form for them.

Next: How Ouattara can add creative flair to Cherries

Also in this series

Part 1: Trossard's game an ideal fit for Arsenal
Part 2: Rutter can be Leeds' very own Firmino

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