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Premier League: Lage and Wolves deserve plenty of praise

Wolves have emerged as serious contenders for a top-four finish in the Premier League this season, but their rise has seemingly gone under the radar.

Nobody was really considering Wolves as European contenders at the start of the season following an underwhelming 2020/21 campaign and the departure of popular head coach Nuno Espirito Santo, who was replaced by the little known Bruno Lage.

However, Lage has seemingly reinvented the Molineux club during his short time in charge and Wolves are now available at 16/1 to finish the season in the top four.

Lage has reinvigorated Wolves

There is no doubting Nuno enjoyed an extremely successful four-year spell in charge of Wolves, as he followed up leading the club to the Championship title in 2018 with back-to-back seventh-place finishes in the top flight, as well as the quarter finals of the Europa League in 2020.

However, Nuno's final season in charge was not quite as successful, with Wolves finishing in the bottom half of the standings, which contributed to a natural parting of the ways between the 48-year-old and the club at the end of last season.

The man chosen as Nuno's successor was former Sheffield Wednesday and Swansea assistant Lage, who was a low-key appointment despite having led Benfica to the Portuguese title in 2019.

Expectations from the outside were certainly low at the start of the season, but Wolves are now in serious contention to secure their highest top-flight finish since they claimed fourth spot in 1971.

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Goals are overrated at Molineux

There is no doubting what Wolves' success under Lage has been built on, as only leaders Manchester City have conceded fewer top-flight goals this season, with the Molineux faithful having seen their side let in just 17 across their 23 league matches to date.

The goals have not exactly been flowing at the other end, with Wolves scoring just 21, while their 1.65 goals-per-game average is the second lowest in English top-flight history after Liverpool, who averaged 1.57 during the 1970-71 campaign.

Those kind of statistics suggest that backing under 2.5 goals in Wolves' next match against Leicester on Sunday could be the way to go at odds of 4/5, especially as only two goals have been scored in the last five meetings between those two sides.

Returning players to boost European push

Wolves have mounted their European challenge this season despite having several key players sidelined over the first half of the season.

Jonny Castro and Pedro Neto are yet to play this term after suffering serious knee injuries towards the end of the last campaign, while defender Willy Boly has been limited to a solitary outing in the EFL Cup due to a combination of illness and injury.

However, in the build up to Sunday's clash with Leicester, Lage has revealed that all three of those players are now back in training, and although they are unlikely to be rushed back into action, their impending return will no doubt provide a boost.

Neto's comeback could prove particularly key, as the Portugal international was directly involved in 11 Premier League goals last season, providing six assists and scoring five himself.

The 21-year-old should certainly provide Wolves with an extra attacking threat over the closing months of the season, while Jonny and Boly's return will undoubtedly bolster an already rock-solid defence.

It certainly promises to be an exciting end to the season for Wolves, who can be backed at 6/5 to boost their European hopes further with a victory over Leicester at Molineux on Sunday.

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