Traore one to watch in more central role but defence-first Wolves pose little goal threat |

Wolverhampton Wanderers 1-0 Sheffield United

  • Goals: Willian Jose (£6.8m)
  • Assists: Adama Traore (£6.0m)
  • Bonus: Jose x3, Romain Saiss (£4.9m) x2, Conor Coady (£4.9m) x1

Willian Jose (£6.8m) finally broke his Wolves duck with a goal that officially relegated Sheffield United.

The Blades had been living on borrowed time long before this Gameweek 32 clash, so Jose’s winner – from an Adama Traore (£6.0m) assist – was more mercy killing than cold-blooded murder.

But even then, United had chances to earn the first point of interim boss Paul Heckingbottom’s forgettable tenure.

Three Is The Magic Number

That they didn’t was down to a combination of their own poor finishing and Wolves’ generally solid defending.

Despite keeping a clean sheet in the previous match, away at Fulham, coach Nuno Espirito Santo reverted to a back three to further shore things up against the Blades – although his hand was perhaps partly forced by the unavailability of Pedro Neto (£5.6m) and Ruben Neves (£5.1m).

His defensive cause was also helped by the return of Willy Boly (£5.4m). The centre-half has missed nearly half the season through injury or illness but has still been involved in six of the side’s 10 clean sheets this term.

Boly’s partners at the back also happened to be the team’s two most popular players in FPL – Conor Coady (£4.9m and 7.2%) and the 6.2%-owned Romain Saiss (£4.9m) – and the pair did their owners proud with bonus-point performances.

Saiss could even have had a goal, only to be denied by an excellent Aaron Ramsdale (£4.6m) save.

The decision to play with a back four had been driven by a desire for more progressive football, and it’s fair to say that was in short supply in a 3-4-3 – even against the Championship-bound Blades.

Chances With Wolves

The coach went into further details about the formation post-match:

It’s a decision that we made based on the squad. It’s not about the system, it’s more about the idea, the approach for the game that we have to build on. Having two systems can be very good for us.

We were always balanced. Sheffield United are a very tough team to play, they involve many players in attack on the wide areas, but we were able to control that.

But with control came a lack of dynamism – United have conceded an average of 14 attempts per game this season. Wolves managed just 10.

Of those attempts, Jose found the net with his one and only effort, scoring his first Premier League goal in his 11th outing.

But it was Traore – who has FPL returns in each of the last three Gameweeks – who proved to be the greater goal threat, although that wasn’t saying much in a match devoid of attacking highlights.

If tapping into Wolves’ debatable attacking prowess looks unwise, a look at their run-in suggests defensive investment, for the short term at least, is worth considering.

A defence that’s kept three clean sheets in five matches (and six from Gameweek 20 onwards, a total bettered by only two clubs) will hope for more of the same over the next three Gameweeks as they’ll be facing Burnley and Brighton at home and West Brom away.

Things get murkier after that, however, with trips to Spurs and Everton before a last-day visit from Manchester United.

As for the Blades, they’re now down and even further out of most Fantasy managers’ minds.

The 5.4%-owned Rhian Brewster (£4.3m) did at least get a rare start on Saturday, but he was starved of service in a 75-minute appearance involving just one attempt and 26 touches – the fewest of any starting outfield player on the day.

Wolverhampton Wanderers XI (3-4-3): Patrício; Saïss, Coady, Boly; Aït-Nouri, Moutinho, Dendoncker, Semedo; Podence (Vitinha 72), Willian J (Fabio Silva 77), A Traoré.

Sheffield United XI (3-5-2): Ramsdale; K Bryan, Egan, Ampadu (Bogle 83); Stevens, Fleck, Norwood, Osborn (Mousset 75), Baldock; Brewster (Burke 75), McGoldrick.

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