Bruno Lage

A Closer Look At Wolves, Leicester's Opening-Day Opponents

Leicester City welcome Wolverhampton Wanderers to King Power Stadium on the opening weekend of the 2021/22 Premier League season.

The West Midlands outfit arrive on Filbert Way on Saturday for a 3pm BST kick-off after securing a 13th-placed finish in the league last term under the management of Nuno Espírito Santo, who left the club after four years earlier this summer.

Games between the Foxes and Wolves have tended to be tight affairs over recent seasons, with Brendan Rodgers' men picking up four points last term. Ahead of this latest encounter between two ambitious Premier League sides, LCFC.com takes a closer look at the team from Molineux...

The story of 2020/21

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Raúl Jiménez
Raúl Jiménez

A serious injury sustained by Raúl Jiménez was damaging for Wolves in 2020/21, but the impressive striker is back for the new campaign.

After finishing seventh in the Premier League and reaching the quarter-finals of the UEFA Europa League the season earlier, Wolves headed into 2020/21 boosted by the arrivals of Fábio Silva and Nélson Semedo, two transfers reported to be in excess of £30M.

However, the departures of Diogo Jota and Matt Doherty, to Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur respectively, posed challenges for Nuno Espírito Santo's men. Their prospects would also be hit by Raúl Jiménez fracturing his skull in a 2-1 victory over Arsenal at Emirates Stadium in November.

Wolves' campaign would be typified by pockets of form, with an opening day win at Sheffield United being followed by successive defeats by Manchester City and West Ham United. They would then lose just once - away at Leicester - in seven games before winning one in 12.

Ten points from a possible 12 lifted spirits over the New Year period, but the West Midlands side would only win another three Premier League fixtures between late February and the season's conclusion. They also reached the fifth round of the Emirates FA Cup, but exited early in the Carabao Cup.

There were several highlights, however, including wins over the likes of Arsenal (at home and away) and Chelsea, among others.

The manager

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Bruno Lage
Bruno Lage

Wolves turned to former Benfica manager Bruno Lage earlier this summer.

For the first time since 2017, Wolves will start a season without Nuno Espírito Santo at the helm after the Portuguese left Molineux this summer and eventually replaced compatriot José Mourinho at Tottenham Hotspur. Former Benfica manager Bruno Lage is the man they turned to.

A former right-winger for UCRD Praiense and Quintajense, Lage started his coaching career at academy level with Vitória Setúbal, before overseeing every youth team at Benfica from 2004 to 2012. Spells amid the backroom teams at Shabab Al-Ahli, Sheffield Wednesday and Swansea City followed.

In 2018, he returned to Benfica as B team manager and was soon entrusted with the role of caretaker manager, replacing Rui Vitória in January 2019. After a victory over Rio Ave, Lage was installed as the permanent new Benfica manager just eight days later.

The Primeira Liga title followed in 2018/19, alongside the Supertaça Cândido de Oliveira, while Lage was named as Portugal's best coach in that campaign too. Later in the calendar year, he was also presented with the award for the Portuguese Football Federation Men's Coach of the Year.

However, in 2020, Benfica matched their worst-ever run of form - two wins in 13 - while also going five matches without a victory at Estádio da Luz. As a result, the Setúbal-born manager was replaced by assistant Nélson Veríssimo, starting his path to Molineux.

The stats

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Rúben Neves
Rúben Neves

Portugal international Rúben Neves was one of the club's biggest attacking threats last season.

Goalkeeper Rui Patrício, who has since left the club, was Wolves' top appearance-maker in the Premier League last season, starring in all but one of their top-flight outings. Centre-back Conor Coady also reached those heights, while making three more appearances than Patrício in all competitions.

Rúben Neves and Pedro Neto ended the 2020/21 campaign as the West Midlands outfit's joint top goalscorers with five to their name in all competitions, while João Moutinho was the only player to suffer a red card in a clash with Aston Villa in December.

Neto was named as Wolves' Player and Players' Player of the Season, as Fábio Silva took home the Young Player of the Season prize. 

The fixtures

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Fernando Marçal
Fernando Marçal

Wolves concluded their pre-season fixtures with the visit of Celta Viga to Molineux last weekend.

Wolves have embarked on a busy pre-season schedule this summer, with Bruno Lage taking a close look at his new side over the course of eight friendly fixtures. The off-season fixtures began with a 3-0 success over Forest Green Rovers, before a 1-0 reverse at the hands of Crewe Alexandra.

They then headed to Spain for three matches, beating Real Betis (1-0) and Al Shabab (2-1), either side of a 3-2 loss to Las Palmas in Marbella. Lage's men returned to the United Kingdom for a 1-1 draw with Stoke City later in July, before overcoming Coventry City 2-1 the next day.

While Leicester City were in the capital winning the FA Community Shield on Saturday, Wolves welcomed Celta Viga to Molineux, but they were beaten 1-0 by the Spanish outfit. Following the visit to King Power Stadium this weekend, Wolves entertain Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United in the West Midlands in August, before travelling to newly-promoted Watford after the first international break of the 2021/22 season.

The signings

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Francisco Trincão
Francisco Trincão

Full-back Francisco Trincão, who can also operate in more advanced positions, joined Wolves from Barcelona on loan.

Summer business has included several incomings and outgoings for Wolves. After a productive loan spell last term, Rayan Aït-Nouri's services were secured on a permanent basis from Angers, while goalkeeper José Sá joined from Olympiacos, full-back Bendegúz Bolla swapped Fehérvár for Wolves and centre-back Yerson Mosquera also signed from Atlético Nacional.

Francisco Trincão, who can operate on the flanks, also agreed a one-year loan deal from La Liga giants Barcelona. Rui Patrício, on the other hand, is the most high profile departure for Wolves this summer, linking up with José Mourinho at Serie A outfit Roma.

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