Wolves stunned Chelsea at Stamford Bridge last Saturday, winning 4-2 courtesy of a fine Matheus Cunha hat-trick. It was the best response Gary O’Neil could have hoped for after his side suffered a stoppage-time heartbreaking 4-3 loss to Manchester United last week.
Meanwhile, the Bees were beaten 3-1 by Manchester City at the Gtech Community Stadium last time out, meaning they have won just once in their last 10 Premier League games. The West London side’s form is concerning and manager Thomas Frank will be out to avenge his FA Cup elimination at the hands of Wolves in January.
Here are three key battles that could decide the outcome of Wolves vs Brentford.
#Matheus Cunha vs Brentford centre-backs
Matheus Cunha was unplayable against Chelsea, terrorising the hosts’ defence with his speed, pressing and dribbling while also showing devastating finishing skills. The hat-trick at Stamford Bridge should hugely boost his confidence heading into this game, and considering how leaky Brentford have been this season, the Brazilian forward will be licking his lips at the prospect of facing them.
Monitoring Cunha’s movements in the final third is a tough task as he is always on the move, and the Brentford centre-backs will have to be defensively alert if they intend to keep the Wolves forward at bay. Brentford’s three-man backline of Nathan Collins, Ethan Pinnock and Ben Mee endured a torrid time against Man City last weekend, and the Wolves attack led by Cunha will also look to take the game to them.
If the Bees intend to keep a clean sheet, the centre-backs have to step up and be counted against Cunha.
#Pedro Neto vs Christian Norgaard
Pedro Neto’s return from injury has coincided with Wolves scoring freely again, with Gary O’Neil’s side scoring nine goals in last three games across all competitions. The Portuguese winger is arguably their biggest asset in attack due to his sheer ability to win games single-handedly.
With Joao Gomes and Mario Lemina likely to start in central midfield, Neto’s vision to spot passes and rally forward in transitions can be dangerous, which is something Christian Norgaard will be tasked to stop. Norgaard operates deepest in midfield for Brentford, controlling games while also disrupting the opposition’s play. A tenacious tackler and a good reader of the game, the Dane will look to stick close to Neto and nullify his threat.
It will be interesting to see who wins this battle at Molineux.
#Ivan Toney vs Wolves centre-backs
At the other end of the pitch, how Wolves’ back three deal with Ivan Toney will be an intriguing watch.
Brentford had missed their last term’s top scorer for the first half of this campaign, with goals proving hard to come by. Toney’s return from suspension allows Thomas Frank to set up his team the way he naturally wants, and since the England international has stepped his feet on the pitch, his strike partner Neal Maupay has benefitted. Nonetheless, Toney himself will be a big threat, and the Wolves back three—Max Kilman, Craig Dawson and Toti Gomes—have to be on their toes throughout the game to keep him at bay.
Expect a lot of physical duels between Toney and the Wolves centre-backs, as Brentford will look to launch long balls and go direct on Saturday.