Any Black Country Derby between Wolverhampton Wanderers and their long time rivals West Bromwich Albion is always going to be huge.
With Wolves having little to play for this season and the absence of fans, from the outside it may seem that this derby would count for less in the current climate.
Ask most supporters in the old gold and black, and they will tell you that this could not be further from the truth. Coming off the back of their worst Premier League result and arguably performance at Molineux in last Sunday’s 4-0 loss to Burnley, tensions are high.
Moreover, whilst there is very little on the line for Monday’s visitors to the Hawthorns directly, the result is likely to have huge bearings on West Brom’s survival hopes on May Day.
With just five games to go, West Brom are nine points adrift of safety therefore defeat to Wolves will leave their survival hopes hanging by an even thinner thread. However, were the team sitting 19th in the league to win their next game, it could set up a tantalising finish for them.
Even if West Brom still went down, a defeat for Wolves would mean it would surpass 10 years since they had beaten the Baggies. If a loss allows Sam Allardyce’s team to eventually stay up, Wolves will know back-to-back lacklustre performances would have played a miraculous part in their arch rivals’ great escape.
The stakes are high for Wolves boss Nuno as well. For all of his success during his tenure at the club since being appointed in 2017, he will have missed the chance to add a victory in the derby to his achievements.
This is particularly relevant when the fanbase has become divided on his future, not helped with the relentless links of him becoming the next Tottenham Hotspur manager.
It goes for the players as well. Any repeat of their humbling against Burnley on Sunday could potentially undo a lot of work they have done to win the fans’ trust since joining.
The trajectory feels downwards for Wolves currently, but, if they can show that last Sunday’s performance was a mere blip in an okay month for them, then it can at least give the fans a special memory of Wolves competing during the pandemic this season.