Wolves v West Ham
Tuesday 29 January, 19:45

Wolves a work in progress

Amidst all the talk of Premier League teams not respecting the "magic of the FA Cup" by fielding weakened sides, Wolves boss Nuno Santo selected some of his big hitters for the weekend's trip to League One Shrewsbury, and barely escaped with a 2-2 draw. An exit from the competition would have been a demoralising blow - Wolves knocked out Liverpool in the previous round, and they have built up enough of a buffer between themselves and the Premier League dropzone to really take a swing at the FA Cup.
With the top six in the Premier League over the hills and far away, Wolves are very much in contention to be the best of the rest. They certainly won't go down - while their fellow promoted sides Fulham and Cardiff are scrapping for survival, Wolves have looked like an accomplished and ready-made Premier League side from the get-go. Joao Moutinho and Ruben Neves have produced a wonderful "Portuguese master and apprentice" act in midfield, while Mexican forward Raul Jimenez has shown he can play at a high level after a career of being good but not great.
That said, there is still plenty of work to do. A record of nine wins and nine defeats shows there has been inconsistency (as does a negative goal difference), and Nuno's men have lost two of their last three Premier League matches. A win at Tottenham recently was followed by a home defeat to Crystal Palace, an example of the task still ahead of Nuno as he establishes the club in the top tier.

Hammers need a response after cup debacle

Manuel Pellegrini always comes across as an avuncular, mild-mannered man, but the West Ham manager looked ready to do someone a mischief after his side's limp and embarrassing FA Cup exit at League One cellar-dwellers AFC Wimbledon. The Chilean stated that he would have changed all eleven players at half time if he'd had the facility to do so.
Pellegrini has to take some of the blame for leaving out his top performer Felipe Anderson(the Brazilian came on as sub and scored a delightful free-kick), and now he must justify that team selection by getting a positive result at Molineux. The Hammers are a curious side on their travels - they have lost their last two top-flight away games, having won the previous three.
Star striker Marko Arnautovic is back in the fold with a payrise after his Chinese adventure failed to materialise, although it remains to be seen whether he'll have the cheek to do his trademark "Irons" celebration if he scores.

Wolves a bit too short in what could be a close one

Neither of these sides has been consistent, and just one point separates them in the standings. West Ham's away form has dipped, but they have shown on numerous occasions that they are capable of picking up wins on their travels. They also have a point to prove after the weekend's debacle.
Wolves like to create rather than destroy, and that could give technically gifted operators like Arnautovic and Felipe Anderson the space to do some damage. The hosts have lost two of their last three home matches in the top flight, and they only beat Leicester in the other one courtesy of a last-gasp winner.
I can't get on board with backing Wolves to win at 2.16, so I'll back Draw or Away on the Double Chance market at 1.86.

Overs/unders a tough call

Over 2.5 Goals is trading at 2.04 here, with Under 2.5 available at 1.92. I can see why it's so close - in Wolves' last 12 Premier League games, six have landed an overs bet and six have stayed under the 2.5 goals line.

Anderson to make his mark again?


Felipe Anderson has proven to be a superb summer signing from Lazio, and the Brazilian has adapted to the pace of the Premier League in no time at all. He has scored eight top-flight goals, and four of those have come on the road.
I think he'll have space to work in, and he's worth considering in the To Score market on the Sportsbook at 13/5. Arnautovic is priced at 9/5 to score on his comeback.
On the Wolves side of things, Diogo Jota is 6/4, and he scored a hat-trick in the last home game against Leicester City. 
RECOMMENDED BETS
Back Draw or Away in the Double Chance market at 1.86


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