Wolves vs Manchester City predictions: No repeat of City sloppiness at Molineux
Manchester City built on last season's title-winning squad by bringing in the hottest striking prospect in world football, but while Erling Haaland has lived up to his billing and the Citizens have dealt out a handful of hidings, there is still an odd sense that something is not quite right.
Nottingham Forest, Bournemouth and Sevilla in the Champions League have been dispatched 6-0, 4-0 and 4-0, and West Ham were lucky to get away with a 2-0 defeat in a dominant City performance on the opening weekend.
However, Pep Guardiola’s men have also shown uncharacteristic sloppiness, dropping points against Newcastle and Aston Villa, while also going 2-0 down against Crystal Palace before rallying to win 4-2 at the Etihad.
It will likely prove little more than a teething problem as they adapt to the use of a traditional No9, but opponents will be wondering if attack is the best form of defence against the City onslaught.
Wolves are not the first team that springs to mind when thinking of clinical counter-attacks to floor the Citizens but they do have recent history of bloodying City's noses and in Diego Costa have a new signing who never shies from a physical contest.
Wolves' summer signing Sasa Kalajdzic had to come off halfway into his debut with what was confirmed as an anterior cruciate ligament injury and he joins long-term absentee Chiquinho on the sidelines until at least spring.
Raul Jimenez was also unable to feature in Wolves' last outing against Southampton, withdrawing from the XI in the pre-match warm-up.
However, the striker should be fit to feature having had a fortnight to rest a knee injury that troubled him during pre-season.
Costa is likely to settle for a place on the bench at best having not played a competitive match since last December.
Guardiola has concerns over only two City players, with right-back Kyle Walker and centre-back Aymeric Laporte both on the verge of returning.
However, both may be rested this weekend to fully recover over the international break.
Last season, Manchester City dropped points in only five of their 28 games against teams outside the top six but this season have already dropped points in two of only six such matches.
Both came in away trips and now they visit a Wolves team who have taken points off them in two of City’s last four Molineux trips, with the hosts winning 3-2 in 2019-20 and drawing 1-1 in 2018-19.
However, City have won on their last two visits, winning 3-1 in 2020-21 and steamrollering Wolves 5-1 last term, with Kevin De Bruyne scoring four.
While the scale of that defeat was unusual — Wolves only conceded more than two goals on four occasions last term and that was the only time they conceded more than three — the result was part of a trend of Bruno Lage's men falling short at home against the top teams.
Wolves took just one point at home against the 'big six', losing 1-0 to Liverpool, Tottenham, Arsenal and Manchester United and drawing 0-0 at Molineux against Chelsea.
While a few moments of carelessness have cost them points this season, it would be an exaggeration to say that Guardiola's men are struggling.
Indeed, for all the thrills of the Newcastle 3-3 draw and the drama of Aston Villa nearly nicking an unlikely victory, it must be noted that City should have killed off their opponents in both encounters, beating Newcastle 2.7-1.8 on expected goals and dominating the xG against Villa by 1.4 to 0.2.
City's levels of dominance would have resulted in victory far more often than not in those games, but Villa scored with their only shot on target and Newcastle goalkeeper Nick Pope was in stunning form to deny City, who took 22 shots but could only beat him three times.
Wolves boast plenty of technical quality and are likely to have more possession than most of City's opponents, but their lack of killer instinct at the other end undermines their chances of springing a surprise.
Lage’s men have produced some nice football this season and mid-ranking opponents have found them hard to break down, but their lack of cutting edge is likely to cost Wolves against a Citizens side who usually make the most of their chances.
It may not be a rout and Wolves have the class to worry a sometimes vulnerable City backline, but the visitors should win by a goal or two.