sport news Why Wolves ARE ready to gatecrash the Champions League this season

For some time now, it has been a case of expect the unexpected from Nuno Espirito Santo's increasingly impressive Wolves side. 

Championship winners the year before last, the Midlands club were last season's surprise package as they qualified for the Europa League, sneaking seventh spot in the Premier League to make up for their blowing of a two-goal lead in the FA Cup semi-finals. 

This time round, whilst a deep run in the Europa League has been the focus, Sunday's 3-2 victory at Tottenham may mark a shift of priorities - they're now sixth in the Premier League, three points off fourth-placed Chelsea.

Raul Jimenez, Wolves' top scorer this season, celebrates his winner against Tottenham Hotspur

Raul Jimenez, Wolves' top scorer this season, celebrates his winner against Tottenham Hotspur

The manner of the win in north London, coming from behind on two occasions, displayed in essence the key attributes valued at Molineux: resilience, efficiency and composure, and it could spur them on to even greater heights in the remaining two months or so of the season. 

The Champions League is in sight. Can they really do it? 

FORM 

Since an anomaly of a defeat at Watford on New Year's Day, Wolves haven't led the form table, but have consistently been right up there. 

WOLVES' LAST SIX 

Feb 1: D vs Man United, 0-0 (PL)

Feb 14: D vs Leicester, 0-0 (PL)

Feb 20: W vs Espanyol, 4-0 (EL)

Feb 23: W vs Norwich, 3-0 (PL)

Feb 27: L vs Espanyol, 3-2 (EL)

March 1: W vs Tottenham, 3-2  (PL)

With a 1-1 draw against Newcastle sandwiched in between two FA Cup games against , which ultimately ended in elimination, Wolves showed their powers of recovery most notably on the south coast. 

Two down at half-time against Southampton, Wolves came storming back in the second-half, with Pedro Neto's strike and Raul Jimenez's double snatching all three points. 

And even though they failed to win in three games after that, they were more than a match for all three lofty opponents: Liverpool, and Leicester. 

Against the league leaders at Molineux, Wolves were somewhat unlucky to leave the contest empty-handed, with spurned opportunities coming back to haunt them. 

Two goalless draws, at Old Trafford and at home to the Foxes, did not set the world alight but highlighted their doggedness in defence, spearheaded by captain Conor Coady. 

Yet it is since the winter break where Wolves have flourished and in particular the lethal attacking pairing of Jimenez and Jota.

Diogo Jota scored a terrific hat-trick against Espanyol in the Europa League on February 20

Diogo Jota scored a terrific hat-trick against Espanyol in the Europa League on February 20

A four-goal dismantling of Espanyol in the Europa League last-32 saw Jota notch an impressive hat-trick, and the Portugual international followed that up with a double against Norwich. 

He scored again on Sunday, as did Jimenez, and both have been pivotal in the club's excellent recent run. 

STAR PLAYERS

As mentioned previously, Jota has recently caught the eye, with six goals in his last three appearances. 

As well as his composed finishing, his work-rate and sheer pace has caught the eye, none more so exemplified then for the match-winner on Sunday. 

Receiving the ball half-way inside his own half, he exquisitely turned Lucas Moura before accelerating away from Serge Aurier, and cutting inside to find Jimenez in acres of space. 

The Mexican, Wolves' top scorer this season with 16 goals in all competitions, did the rest, selling Japhet Tanganga in the box before striking into the top corner with his left foot. 

WOLVES IN 2019-20
Points: 42 Position: 6th  Wins/Draws/Losses: 10/12/6 Goals scored/conceded: 42/34 Clean sheets: 7 Shooting accuracy: 32 per cent  Pass accuracy: 79 per cent  Tackle success: 55 per cent

Statistics according to the Premier League 

It was a move encompassing all the quality and precision of Wolves' forward pairing. And the support on the flanks isn't half-bad either. 

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