Norwich bid to continue their renaissance with the visit of an impressive Wolves side to Carrow Road on Saturday. Michael Beardmore provides a preview and two best bets.
1pt Raul Jimenez to be Wolves’ first goalscorer at 3/1 (Sky Bet)
1pt Rayan Ait-Nouri to assist 1+ goals at 11/2 (Sky Bet)
It’s fair to say that Wolves are a large part of the reason why Dean Smith now finds himself in the Norwich dugout rather than the Aston Villa one.
Smith’s Villa were pottering along fairly nicely, a 1-0 win at Old Trafford in their recent rear mirror when Wanderers somehow turned a 2-0 Villa Park deficit into a 3-2 victory with three late, late goals last month.
Villa’s confidence took a blow it never recovered from, three further defeats followed to Arsenal, West Ham and Southampton and it was bye, bye Smith.
So he will be fully aware of the danger at hand this Saturday as Wolves stand in the way of his bid to begin his Canaries reign with back-to-back victories.
As pointed out in our Saturday Seven column, where we’ve made Wolves our Nap of the day at 6/5, the visitors will provide a sharp uptick in opposition from Brentford and Southampton, the two teams Norwich have, somewhat fortuitously, beaten.
Wolves’ Expected Goals process of 1.58 xGF and 1.22 xGA are far superior to Norwich’s 0.87 xGF and a horrendous 1.98 xGA – last weekend’s win might have lifted the Canaries off bottom spot but climbing out of the bottom three, and staying out, is going to be a much harder task.
That Norwich xGA figure – and their actual goals conceded figure of 27 in 12 games – suggests Wolves will score here whatever the result, so the key is to work out where the value lies.
It’s no surprise to see Raul Jimenez leading the way in the scoring markets – just over a year after his career-threatening, indeed life-threatening, skull injury, the Mexican is back. And back in the goals.
Perhaps unsurprisingly it took Jimenez a while to find his feet again, wearing his new protective headgear, but the forward has now netted three times in his past six starts.
You can get 19/10 on Jimenez to net anytime at Carrow Road or around 4/1 on him to score first but, with Norwich dangerman Teemu Pukki in mind, I prefer the generous 3/1 Sky Bet offer on JIMENEZ TO BE FIRST WOLVES GOALSCORER.
Only six Wanderers players have found the net in the Premier League this season and, given we expect Wolves to score, this should be a two-horse race between Jimenez and four-goal Hwang Hee-chan.
The latter has not registered a shot in his last three games after a warm spell prior so Jimenez has to be the play here. Other firms go 11/5 on him in similar markets so 3/1 is real value.
We profited in Wolves’ last game – the impressive win over West Ham – from Rayan Ait-Nouri’s prowess in the tackling department, but it’s further forward I’m looking with the Frenchman here.
In victories over the Hammers and Everton the wing-back has provided six key passes (passes leading to goalscoring opportunities) and an assist – he’s a real livewire up and down the left flank.
Against a Norwich side so prone to conceding from open play, the 11/2 Sky Bet price up on AIT-NOURI TO ASSIST 1+ GOALS looks on the large side given the numbers he’s posted recently and the fact he takes his share of set-pieces.
Score prediction: Norwich 1-2 Wolves (Sky Bet odds: 8/1)
Odds correct 1630 GMT (25/11/21)
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