Wolverhampton Wanderers go into the second international break of the season cannot waiting for it to end.
That’s a stark contrast to the international break in September when the Wanderers sat pointless and goalless from their opening three matches of the season.
But things are different now.
Hee-Chan Hwang has been a revelation and looks to have reinvigorated Raul Jimenez, who is back to his best playing alongside the South Korean.
Bruno Lage’s side are starting to put their chances away and currently find themselves only five points off the Champions League places.
Style and substance
Unlike his predecessor Nuno Espirito Santo, Lage wants his side to play on the front foot, with the shackles off, giving his players the freedom to go on and impose themselves on the match.
But in comparison to Saturday’s opponents Newcastle United, who have struggled to stop games turning into basketball matches, Lage has also found a way to keep his side resolute at the back.
In fact, according to WhoScored, only Manchester City (6) currently average conceding less shots per game than Wolves (9.7) in the Premier League.
At the other end of the spectrum, Nuno’s new team, Tottenham (16.6), are second only to Leeds (16.7) for conceding the most shots per game in the top-flight.
While Nuno is struggling to get his new team, Spurs, hard to beat, Lage is finding a way to strike the balance between being open and expansive and being tough to breakdown.
Among the best in Europe
Out of the 98 sides across Europe’s top five leagues, Wolves sit 13th for conceding the fewest shots per game.
Manchester City sit top of that category, but Wolves sit just above Jose Mourinho’s Roma (9.9) and alongside Borussia Dortmund (9.7).
But Lage’s side currently sit above some of the biggest names in Europe. The likes of AC Milan, Liverpool, Paris Saint Germain, Real Madrid, Manchester United and Chelsea all sit behind us.
With the players becoming more and more accustomed to Lage’s philosophy, approach and tactics, the number of shots Wolves concede per game could reduce further.
If that does happen and Hwang and Jimenez continue their rich vein of form, there is no reason why Wolves shouldn’t continue to climb the Premier League table.