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It has to be every coach’s worst nightmare.
You build your team around a stellar center forward, spend a summer avoiding breakthroughs from several major clubs, eventually tying him to a long-term contract, and then he suffers a horrible injury that seems to have ruled him out for the rest. of the Bell.
Naturally, Nuno Espirito Santo was quick to emphasize after Raúl Jiménez’s terrible head clash with David Luiz that his thoughts are purely on the well-being of the Mexican forward. However, with the Premier League matches full of force during the Christmas period, how will they manage in your absence?
Of course, with the transfer deadline long past, Nuno will need to work with the current squad of players at his disposal as he seeks to absorb the loss of his talisman, but that shouldn’t. necessarily be seen as negative.
The first outbreaks of positivity in the 29-year-old’s absence came in the same match in which he suffered the shocking collision.
Jiménez’s injury made Nuno resort to the summer signing of Fabio Silva. The 18-year-old was tasked with leading the Lobos line for most of the game (given that his presentation took place in just 15 minutes) and did a good job of catching the ball at his feet and showing the Linkup’s awareness and ability to play with his teammates.
It may have only been 63 minutes of football (he was substituted at the end when the visitors were looking to close the game) and Silva has a long way to go if he wants to prove that he is a Premier League footballer, but he showed all the talent and intelligence to suggest he can be the focal point of the Wolves attack if need be.
The only thing the former Porto player lacked was the forward instinct that has made Jiménez one of the most sought-after strikers in European football. Silva was inches from landing his head on a pitch that crossed Arsenal’s goal: if Jiménez had been the target of that center, you could mortgage him to find the back of the net.
That said, it would be unfair to criticize the £ 35 million man for not being half a foot taller, which could essentially have been the difference between him scoring and missing, although his lack of physical presence may ultimately offer the Wolves another rope. . ‘arc.
Let’s not forget, Nuno’s team looked far from forceful after Jiménez had left the field against Arsenal. In fact, he would score two goals and secure a brilliant victory at the Emirates Stadium.
Rather than having Jiménez as the focal point of the attack, the Lobos sought to focus their efforts on having three fast, mobile forwards on the field, and with players like Daniel Podence and Pedro Neto on either side of Silva, Arsenal could not cope. to the triple attack of the visitors.
His second goal in the Emirates gave us an idea of what to expect from Nuno’s team in the future.
Having collected the ball close to the center circle, Neto drove towards the Arsenal backline. Clearly terrified by their pace, the Gunners defense continued to back down, before the young Portuguese fired a fierce shot that was played by Bernd Leno. Not content to hug the touchline, Podence emerged from the left, dodging all Arsenal defenders before producing a moment of magic to give his side the advantage.
The fluid, fast and interchangeable movement of the Lobos’ three forwards was simply too much for Mikel Arteta’s men to handle, and if anything, the lack of a main man in front proved to be what won the game over the Wolves. .
The other option that Nuno has at his disposal is the Adama Traore with a jet heel.
The Portuguese strategist has already tried experimenting with Traore in a number of different positions (with little to no success), so the temptation to start him off as the spearhead of the Lobos attack should definitely be avoided, as he has proven to have a difficult time adjusting. . into a new role for a full 90 minutes.
However, the fast Spaniard proved in the Wolves’ memorable win over Manchester City last season, that when pushed further forward at the end, with the opposition starting to tire, he can be a huge advantage when playing off the shoulder of the last man and look. to use your rhythm behind.
Losing a center forward of Jimenez’s ability would be difficult for most teams in the world to regain, so of course it will have an impact on the Wolves. However, Silva’s performance at Arsenal and the other forwards Nuno has at his disposal should be more than enough to deal with the Mexican’s absence; even if that means a slight change in style.