After their comfortable 2-0 win at relegation-threatened West Ham, sixth-placed Wolves host another struggling side in Bournemouth. Steve Rawlings previews the live match here...
“Given Wolves have only been leading at the break four times at home and that they’ve won more points from losing positions than any other team this season (21), backing Wolves in the Half Time/Full Time Market makes more sense than taking the ever shortening odds-on in the outright market.”
Wolves v Bournemouth
Wednesday June 24, 18:00
Live on BT Sport
Seamless Wolves back to winning ways
Wolves emerged from lockdown on Saturday evening at West Ham and it was as if they'd never been away. Nuno Espírito Santo's charges looked their usual assured selves at the back and once their talented 24-year-old Spanish winger, Adama Traoré, was introduced in the 64th minute, there only ever looked like being one winner.
Man of the match, Traoré, who appeared even fitter than he had before lockdown, assisted Raúl Jiménez to open up the scoring and he had a hand in the second, scored brilliantly by Portugese substitute, Neto.
Traoré and Jiménez have now combined for a record nine Premier League goals, and Jiménez's headed opener on Saturday was his 14th Premier League goal of the season. That's the most scored by a Wolves player in a single Premier League season and the most scored in the top-flight by a Wolves player since John Richards bagged 17 in the 1975/76 season.
Following their comfortable 2-0 win at the London Stadium, Wolves have now conceded in just one of their last six Premier League encounters and since losing to Watford on New Year's Day, the runaway league leaders, Liverpool, are the only team to have beaten them in the Premier League this year. Wolves are now unbeaten in their last six and they're currently sitting sixth in the Premier League - level on points with Manchester United in fifth.
Struggling Cherries look destined for the drop
Wolves picked up from where they'd left off on Saturday and so did Eddie Howe's sorry Bournemouth side.
Early goals have been something of a rarity since the lockdown, with teams starting the majority of matches slowly in all divisions across Europe, but that didn't stop Crystal Palace racing to a 2-0 lead inside 23 minutes at the Vitality Stadium on Saturday night.
The visitors comfortably saw the game out after that and Cherries fans won't draw any inspiration from Howe's post-match interview: "When you're playing at home, usually you have something to respond to, we didn't have that today. It's no excuse but it's the players first taste of what it's going to be like and it's completely different."
The intense atmosphere at the Vitality has been a huge plus for the Cherries of late. Last season they won 29 points at home, compared to 16 away. Their Points Per Game average of 1.53 was 0.69 higher than their 0.84 PPG average on the road and it's been a similar story so far this season with 17 of their 27 points won at home.
Since the start of last season, Bournemouth have lost more Premier League away games than any other side (24 of 34 played) and they're yet to win on the road in 2020, so if their home form starts to suffer badly with the absence of fans, they're in really big trouble.
The Cherries have earned just seven points from a possible 30 in 2020 so far (W2 D1 L7), which is fewer than any other side in the competition, and they've failed to keep a clean sheet in each of their last 13 Premier League matches - conceding as many as 25 goals across that spell. That's the longest current run without keeping a clean sheet in the Premier League and having slipped into the bottom three Bournemouth are odds-on to be relegated. It's very hard to argue a case for them staying up.
Gulf in class should tell at Molineux
With no fans present, home advantage has been negated across Europe since the return to action and Wolves weren't the strongest of home sides anyway. Following their victory at West Ham, they're now up to fifth place in the Away Form table but they're only 12th in the Home Form table. So far this season, they've played 15 games at Molineux and 15 on the road and they've won 24 points away and only 22 at home.
Given how well they're playing again this season, and that they have two more points on the board than they had at this stage last term, it's perhaps surprising to see that they've only won a third of their 15 home matches. Those stats will give odds-on layers some encouragement but I fear it would be misguided.
Wolves have only been beaten three times at home all season - by Chelsea, Spurs and Liverpool - and as already stated, Bournemouth haven't won away all year. They beat fellow strugglers, Aston Villa, away in August and slow-starters, Southampton in September but their only success on the road since was an expected 1-0 win at Chelsea on December 14. It's almost impossible to make a case for them at less than 6/1.
The draw at around 3/1 makes more sense given Wolves have won only one of their last five at Molineux and that they've already drawn as many as seven at home this term (five 1-1s) but Bournemouth have only drawn once away from home all season and there looks to be a gulf in class on all known evidence.
Wolves impossible to oppose but the value sits in the side markets
Wolves are a quality side but there's absolutely no doubt that they're slow starters. Only once all season have they led at the break away from home - 2-0 against Wednesday's visitors back in November, when they went on to win 2-1 - and they've not been appreciatively better at home. Of the 15 games played at Molineux this season, they've been trailing at half time in seven, drawing in four and leading in only four. And this looks like our best angle in.
Given Wolves haven't lost to Bournemouth since returning to the Premier League (won two - drawn one), how impressive they were in the second half against West Ham on Saturday, and how inept Bournemouth were against Palace, it's very hard to envisage anything but a home win but Wolves have been, understandably, shortening up steadily form a high of 1.845/6 ever since the market opened.
Given Wolves have only been leading at the break four times at home this season and that they've won more points from losing positions than any other team (21), backing Wolves in the Half Time/Full Time Market, and swerving the short-priced favourite, Wolves/Wolves, makes more sense than taking the ever shortening odds-on in the outright market.
Wolves were drawing 0-0 on Saturday but they were trailing at the break in each of their three previous away victories - at Norwich, Southampton and Spurs - and they also beat Manchester City at home after trailing 1-0 at the break.
Wolves have drawn three matches at home this season that they were losing at half time so Bournemouth/Draw looks worth chancing at a juicy price.
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Staked: 59.25 pts
Returned: 70.3 pts
P/L: +11.05 pts
1.5 pts Draw - Wolves @ 4.84/1 in the Half Time/Full Time market
0.25 pt Bournemouth – Draw @ 27.026/1 in the Half Time/Full Time market
0.25 pt Bournemouth – Wolves @ 36.035/1 in the Half Time/Full Time market