League-leaders Wolves require only five points to seal Premier League promotion but welcome a Derby outfit keen to confirm their place in the Championship play-off mix on Wednesday. Mark O'Haire previews the encounter.
"Championship table-toppers Wolves require only five points from the final five games of the season to seal a return to the Premier League"
Wolves v Derby
Wednesday 11th April, 19:45
Live on Sky Sports
Wolves one step closer to the Premier League
Championship table-toppers Wolves require only five points from the final five games of the season to seal a return to the Premier League following a stupefying finale to their top-of-the-table showdown with Cardiff on Friday night. The 1-0 triumph extended the Old Gold's advantage at the top to nine points.
In an intriguing clash of styles, Wanderers' more measured approach allowed the Black Country boys to dominate possession but it was Ruben Neves' brilliant second-half free-kick that gave the guests the lead. However, two missed stoppage-time penalties - one saved by John Ruddy - proved pivotal as Nuno Espirito Santo's side celebrated a crucial three points.
The Wolves boss surprised many when leaving both Helder Costa and Ivan Cavaleiro on the bench and the Portuguese coach may revert back to his favoured 3-4-3 system here with the hosts boasting a clean bill of health heading into the contest.
Derby back on track
Derby cemented their place in fifth with a comfortable 3-0 home victory over Bolton on Saturday. Matej Vydra scored his 20th goal of the season after Alex Pearce had headed the Rams into the lead; Tom Lawrence sealed the points with a 30-yard strike, whilst Cameron Jerome came close to adding a fourth late on.
Gary Rowett's outfit were rarely troubled at Pride Park with goalkeeper Scott Carson's only saves arriving from set-piece situations. The win kept County three points clear of seventh-placed Millwall as the team secured back-to-back Championship triumphs for the first time since Christmas.
The visitors look likely to name an unchanged XI for the trip to Molineux. Central midfield duo Bradley Johnson and George Thorne both missed Saturday's match and remain doubts here. Meanwhile, striker Sam Winnall and full-back Marcus Olsson remain more long-term absentees.
Four wins from five fixtures over the past four weeks has all but confirmed Wolves' promotion but the Old Gold will be keen to wrap their campaign up as early as possible. Wanderers are rated [1.63] favourites to clinch a 15th home success on Wednesday and it's difficult to oppose the hosts here.
Nuno Espirito Santo's side have returned impressive W7-D2-L1 figures when welcoming top-half teams this term, silencing six of their 10 visitors. Wolves were 2-0 winners away at Pride Park and have scored at least twice in 14 of their 20 outings at Molineux, making the [1.71] on the Old Gold overcoming a -0.5/1 Asian Handicap a wiser angle of attack.
Back-to-back wins and clean sheets in the space of a week have helped solidify Derby's play-off place heading into the final furlong. However, the Rams have W1-D4-L2 at top-10 opposition and picked up only two points from a possible 12 when taking on the top-three teams in the Championship.
Over 2.5 Goals [2.16] has provided regular profit for goal-hunters at Molineux under Nuno Espirito Santo's leadership. A healthy 13/20 (65%) of outings have featured at least three goals, including six of 10 when entertaining top-half teams in the Black Country.
Unsurprisingly, Derby's matches under Gary Rowett haven't produced as much entertainment. County have a 50% success rate on their travels in the Over 2.5 Goals market with five of their nine away days at top-half teams falling below the line, making a goals-based bet an unappealing angle of attack here.
Mark's 2017/18 Profit/Loss
Staked: 150.00 pts
Returned: 168.29 pts
P/L: +18.29 pts