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Friday, 14 December, 2018

Wonderful Wolves can start season with Molineux victory

Everton don't look ready for Premier League opener

Wolves star Ruben Neves
1 of 1

Premier League
BT Sport 1, 5.30pm Saturday

Madeira rather than Molineux would be a more suitable setting for Wolves against Everton given the amount of Portuguese people present and Wanderers' Iberian revolution can start Premier League life with a bang.

Wolves dazzled in last season's Sky Bet Championship, obtaining 99 points easing up, and the quality of their football suggests they are likely to be one of the best teams to have ever gained promotion to the Premier League.

The top ten is a realistic target for them when the standard promoted team would just be happy to stay in the division. Wolves have a decent opportunity to highlight their potential against a side expected to be the best of the rest outside the big six this season.

Wolves have had plenty of good fortune in recent times, being taken over by filthy-rich Fosun and collecting the little black book of agent Jorge Mendes along the way, while Nuno's men also seem to have lucked out in the fixture draw, facing an Everton team who are unlikely to field the majority of their deadline-day signings.

Nuno did not need to make wholesale changes from their promotion team with their formation and style of play set in stone.

It's 3-4-3 with Ruben Neves pulling the strings from midfield and an injection of flair on the wings with Diogo Jota and Helder Costa given licence to thrill. It is a fluid system in which Neves pings passes to all corners of the ground, spreading play excellently.

However, Uncle Jorge, as he has fondly been nicknamed around Molineux, was never going to leave anything to chance and an impressive batch of signings have been made, including bringing in dribbling demon Adama Traore from Middlesbrough for a club record fee.

Joao Moutinho and Rui Patricio bring Euro 2016-winning experience with Portugal and bags of Champions League knowhow from big European clubs, while Raul Jimenez is the striker charged with scoring goals as well as linking the play.

Nuno showed his ruthless streak by dumping Barry Douglas for versatile wing-back Jonny, who played 36 times in La Liga last season and his arrival is further evidence that Wolves are no ordinary team coming up from the Championship.

Everton set a decent standard of opposition, They finished eighth last season despite a muddled campaign which ended with Sam Allardyce being replaced as manager by Marco Silva in the summer.

Silva, another Portuguese, speaks of bringing an attacking philosophy to the club and their formation will be 4-3-3, but Thursday's signings Yerry Mina, Bernard and Andre Gomes are unavailable.

Lucas Digne and Richarlison should make their debuts to add quality down the left, but this is a tough opener for the Toffees.

1pt 7-5 Betfair

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Team news
Adama Traore has returned to training after dislocating his shoulder. 

James McCarthy is still sidelined with a broken leg, while new signings Yerry Mina, Bernard and Andre Gomes are lacking fitness.

Key stat
Only Swansea averaged fewer shots per Premier League game last season than Everton's figure of 9.4.

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Lucas Digne and Richarlison should make their debuts to add greater quality down the left, yet this is a tough opener for the Toffees
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