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    Wolves ace who won 16 duels is slowly becoming their star man over Cunha

    Wolverhampton Wanderers’ campaign has most definitely been a massive improvement on the whole, but they’ve certainly struggled in recent weeks.

    Gary O’Neil has done a brilliant job, but the boss was slightly concerned about how the remainder of the season would unfold back in January, stating: “I was clear with the club in Jan that I feared we were overloading the players.”

    On Tuesday, Wolves travelled to Turf Moor without a true attacker on the field, bar Pablo Sarabia, and they were held to a 1-1 draw.

    During the tie against Vincent Kompany’s side, one player in particular shone above the rest, potentially even becoming Wolves’ best player over Matheus Cunha.

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    Matheus Cunha’s 23/24 campaign

    Wolves’ most expensive signing of all time, Cunha, has certainly lived up to his £44m price tag this season after joining permanently in the summer.

    The Brazilian’s profile fits absolutely perfectly into O’Neil’s 3-4-2-1 formation, which has seen Cunha thrive in the left-inside forward role over his 25 Premier League games.

    Matheus-Cunha-Wolves

    The 24-year-old returned to the squad against the Clarets last night after spending a spell on the sidelines due to an injury he picked up against Brentford in February.

    Prior to that setback, the former Atletico Madrid ace was fantastic, scoring nine goals and providing six assists in the league, which means he has the best output in the Wolves squad.

    However, there’s been another reliable performer this season who’s really stepped up during the attacking injury crisis that’s seen Hwang Hee-chan, Pedro Neto, and Cunha all be unavailable.

    The star who’s becoming Wolves’ best player

    Rayan Ait Nouri has simply been excellent all season, but he’s really gone to a whole new level since being handed slightly more attacking freedom in recent weeks.

    The Algerian has played 26 Premier League matches this season, usually playing as a left wing-back, but he played a slightly different role against Burnley.

    ait-nouri-wolves-premier-league-arsenal

    Due to the attacking injuries, O’Neil was forced to field six defenders and four full-backs, which meant Ait Nouri started in a left-midfield role.

    This tactical tweak made sense, especially with the 22-year-old displaying how he can impact the game going forward in recent weeks, scoring three goals and picking up one assist in his last four games for the Wanderers.

    As you can see below, one of those goals came last night, latching onto a Pablo Sarabia free kick to head home just before the break, but it wasn’t just that goal that made his performance impressive.

    Ait Nouri vs Burnley

    Stats

    Ait Nouri

    Goals

    1

    Successful dribbles

    5/6

    Key passes

    1

    Shots on target

    2

    Possession lost

    19

    Tackles

    2

    Duels won

    16

    Via Sofascore

    The former Angers ace was relentless throughout and was defensively solid down the left, contesting 27 duels and winning 16 of them while also making two tackles.

    On the ball, Ait Nouri was as confident as ever in his ability to evade pressure, completing an astounding five dribbles and being fouled five times, which seems to be the only way to stop him.

    Furthermore, the number three wasn’t afraid to take on creative responsibility or get forward to provide support in the final third, as shown by the fact that he lost the ball 19 times, had two shots on target, and produced one key pass.

    What’s crazy is the fact that Ait Nouri has started to put these numbers up consistently, and given his reliability, he’s well and truly on his way to becoming Wolves’ best player this season.

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