When Raul Jimenez suffered a horrendous fractured skull against Arsenal back in November, there were big fears for Wolves given his impressive contributions up top – he’s scored 47 goals in just 110 games for the club.
And since Jimenez went down, the Old Gold have won just four of their last 14 matches. It’s been a torrid period for Nuno Santo who has watched his side capitulate in recent months.
They have kept a solitary clean sheet in the Premier League since October, but their win over Arsenal on this occasion will have done them wonders.
The confidence was back in full swing and it was hardly a surprise that with a robust striker in Willian Jose to aim for in attack, they improved. Though, despite goals from Ruben Neves and Joao Moutinho, it was Pedro Neto who put the Gunners to the sword.
Neto is having a tremendous season and despite Wolves’ struggles, he has taken on the mantle as their chief creator with ease. With Jimenez out, the Portugal international is very quickly becoming their diamond in the rough.
His performances have continued with the same vigour in recent months and his tally of four goals and four assists are bettered by no one in the Wolves squad this season.
The 20-year-old has been quite the force this term and he demonstrated that against Arsenal. Neto gave Hector Bellerin a torrid time and when the Gunners went down to ten and then nine men, he exploited the open spaces ruthlessly.
Neto provided two key passes during the game and such was the space he received on the left that he attempted eight crosses. That was the highest number of balls into the area of anyone on the pitch.
On top of that, the youngster terrorised Bellerin by completing a massive five dribbles. That tally was significantly up on his season average of 2.2 dribbles per game.
He has been a threatening ball of energy for the entire season and ranks among one of the most intense runners in the Premier League – sitting high up on the list of players with the most sprints per 90 minutes.
If anything typified Neto, it would be a piece of descriptive tweeting from Tim Spiers on Tuesday evening. As the winger drove past two Arsenal players in the second half, he said: “Neto twists into the box like a champion slalom skier.”
It was the perfect way to express Neto’s qualities. He is a radiant attacking weapon capable of upsetting even the sternest of defences.
Arsenal had conceded just once in the Premier League since Boxing Day but they found life difficult against the Portuguese this week.
It’s a testament to how much he’s improved and to his overall qualities. He has fast become Nuno’s star man at Molineux.
AND in other news, Drop him: Wolves liability who lost 66% of his duels continues to let Nuno down…