Wolverhampton Wanderers returned to action on Saturday afternoon, as the Old Gold hosted Liverpool in their fifth Premier League fixture of the 2023/24 campaign.
Gary O’Neil’s side were hoping to build on their last result against Merseyside opposition, as the Midlands club secured their first win of the season against Everton late on in their third clash.
Last time out, Wolves had been defeated 3-2 by Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park, with goals from Hwang Hee-Chan and Matheus Cunha not enough to take a result back to Molineux.
Hwang once again found the net against Liverpool, although they were undone by some late goals, eventually succumbing 3-1.
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Against Palace, O’Neil’s side dominated the possession with 57% of the ball, however once again fell short in the final third, with the hosts taking centre stage in providing the goal threat.
As per Sofascore, the Eagles registered 2.11 expected goals (xG) to Wolves’ 1.18, registering a mammoth 11 shots on targets to the visitors four during the 90 minutes played.
Cunha opened his scoring tally for the 2023/24 campaign, joined by super-sub Hwang, who has been a reliable source of threat for the Midlands side, meaning his start on Saturday against Liverpool was well deserved.
Deadline day arrival Tommy Doyle was forced to wait for his first start against the Anfield side after a minor knee injury, although did make his debut from the bench in that encounter.
It surely won’t be too long before we see him earning regular minutes, but one player who must be kept on the bench at the expense of that is Pablo Sarabia.
Should Pablo Sarabia be starting?
Sarabia went from hero to zero in the week of the showdown at Selhurst, as he put in a stellar performance in the Carabao Cup where he was dubbed the “architect” by journalist Nathan Judah, only to then go missing against the Eagles.
The winger received an 8.2 Sofascore match rating against Blackpool in the cup, followed by a below-par 6.6 rating against Palace, where he was branded as “anonymous” by journalist Alex Richards for his display.
Despite Wolves’ control in possession, Sarabia made 33 touches in the 60 minutes he played, losing possession ten times and failing to provide the danger sufficient enough to wound Roy Hodgson’s side.
On the hour mark, O’Neil pulled the £90k-per-week Spaniard off to be replaced by Hwang, who displayed exactly what the 31-year-old was missing to his game on the day by scoring and completing 100% of his attempted dribbles.
The manager was clearly keen to replicate that when they took on Liverpool, as Sarabia was benched with Hwang coming into the starting XI.
That was hardly a surprise after the loss at Selhurst, with the aforementioned Richards also commenting on Sarabia’s “problems” in adapting to the “speed and physicality” of the Premier League, providing another weak element of his game.
With four losses in their opening five games, Wolves will be hoping to finally kick on. The likes of Hwang and Co will certainly help them do that. Including Sarabia, however, will not. After a vibrant display from the South Korean, it is time the Spaniard stays among the subs.
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