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Everton vs Wolverhampton Wanderers: The Opposition View

We chatted with Talking Wolves’ Dave Azzopardi ahead of Sunday’s Goodison clash

Everton FC v Wolverhampton Wanderers - Premier League
Wolves beat Everton 3-1 at Goodison Park last season
Photo by Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images

Everton will want to return to winning ways and extend their run of home clean sheets when they host Wolverhampton Wanderers on Sunday.

The Blues have shut out the opposition in the last six games on their own turf, last conceding at home to Manchester City on February 6, four days after Wolves beat them 3-1 at Goodison.

Likely to rival them for a top six spot this term are Wolves, who finished seventh last season and qualified for the Europa League in their first season back in the top-flight.

Nuno Espírito Santo’s side have also began this campaign in unspectacular fashion, drawing all three of their league games, but made it through the Europa’s qualifying rounds to make the group stages.

Prior to Sunday’s game, we spoke to Dave Azzopardi, host of YouTube channel Talking Wolves:

RBM: Firstly, Wolves have already played six games in the Europa League this season. How much of a detrimental effect has that had on their three league matches so far?

Dave: It’s pretty early to say if European football has had a huge effect on us yet. However, we did look extremely leggy against Burnley last week and we were very lucky to get a point. I’m hoping that this week we will be much better as we haven’t had much travelling as we’ve played at home last Thursday.

RBM: Striker Patrick Cutrone and defender Jesús Vallejo (loan) were Wolves’ only main additions over the summer, aside from a number of youngsters and making permanent moves for last season’s loanees, Raúl Jiménez and Leander Dendoncker.

Were you happy with their business, or do you think the squad needed strengthening further?

Dave: I was happy the players definitely, Cutrone and Vallejo in particular as you’ve mentioned. I know they’ll take a bit of bedding in but they’re great additions. Our squad is fantastic but we really needed to add 1 or 2 more players in my opinion. Possibly a new centre back and a more robust, creative midfielder would have been ideal.

Patrick Cutrone of Wolverhampton Wanderers Fc during the...
Cutrone was Wolves’ biggest summer signing
Photo by Marco Canoniero/LightRocket via Getty Images

RBM: Even with a fairly small squad and the Europa League to contend with, should Wolves still be capable of mounting a top six challenge this year?

Dave: We’ll definitely be towards the top six again this season. I’ll be disappointed if we aren’t above ninth place. I don’t think anyone will disrupt the current top six this season if I’m honest but I expect us to battle Everton and possibly Leicester City for seventh.

RBM: Especially given this is Wolves’ first season in Europe since 1980-81, does the Europa League take priority over the league for you this season?

Dave: That’s an interesting one. I believe any club cannot ignore the league as that’s the bread and butter. On the other hand, the club and fans never know when we will be in Europe again so I’m sure they will want to give it a really good go. It’s a difficult scenario, especially for such a small squad, but I think they’ll go hard in both competitions.

Players of Wolverhampton Wanderers Fc celebrate after...
Wolves saw off Torino on Thursday to make the Europa League group stages
Photo by Marco Canoniero/LightRocket via Getty Images

RBM: Wolves delivered one of the best away showings at Goodison last season. Has their style of play changed at all since then from their high-pressing, fearless performance in February?

Dave: No, we still play the same style and with the same beliefs as last season. I believe we might sit back a little bit early doors before going into second gear. It’ll definitely be interesting to see how we start.

Everton FC v Wolverhampton Wanderers - Premier League
Leander Dendoncker sealed a 3-1 win for Wolves at Goodison in February
Photo by Malcolm Couzens/Getty Images

RBM: Which areas of the pitch should Everton look to exploit?

Dave: Difficult one to be honest as we’re normally pretty solid across the park. I always think we struggle with defending set pieces so that might be an area to exploit. If I’ve got to be extremely critical though, our weakest area will be our right hand side of defence so Bennett and possibly Adama (if he starts) will be the side to attack.

RBM: How do you expect Wolves to set up on Sunday?

Dave: So, I could probably predict our line-up player for player. 5-3-2, Patricio; Adama, Bennett, Coady, Boly, Jonny; Dendoncker, Neves, Moutinho; Jimenez, Jota.

Wolverhampton Wanderers v Torino - UEFA Europa League Play-Off: Second Leg
Rúben Neves is the heartbeat of Wolves’ midfield and scored in both games against Everton last season
Photo by James Baylis - AMA/Getty Images

RBM: Which of Wolves’ players do you think could cause Everton the most problems?

Dave: Of course, Jota and Jimenez are the danger men. On their day, they are a nightmare to defend against with their quick movement and combination play. Moutinho and Neves are another two to watch, out of nothing they can create chances.

RBM: Finally, what’s your prediction for Sunday’s game?

Dave: I’ve got to back my own team! It’ll be a tough and tight game but I’m going 2-1 Wolves!

Our thanks to Dave for his time.