Rayan Ait-Nouri’s Energy and Spark Is Just What Wolves Need to Dominate Games
Before Friday, it had not been a good start to the season for Wolverhampton Wanderers. Nuno Espírito Santo’s side were supposed to be competing for the top four but spent the early weeks of the season looking as they had forgotten how to play football.
Wolves had a habit of being slow and lethargic in the early stages of their games, but they managed to do away with that bad habit in Friday’s 2-0 win over Crystal Palace.
Against a Palace side who didn’t really look like they wanted to be at Molineux, Wolves began with the kind of intensity which we haven’t seen from them all season, and a large part of that was debuting left-back Rayan Aït-Nouri.
The 19-year-old, who joined on loan from Angers during the summer, was drafted in to replace the injured Marçal and wasted little time in proving that he could be the catalyst for change for Wolves.
Nuno’s side have spent this season in a period of transition. They had been trying to do away with their high-tempo style in favour of a slow, methodical possession-based style, and if we’re being truthful, it really didn’t work. Results weren’t bad, but performances were dull.
However, what Aït-Nouri brought that Marçal or Roman Saïss don’t is that energy. He was constantly flying down the left, overlapping with Daniel Podence to cause countless problems for the helpless Nathaniel Clyne.
He brought width to a side who were known for their love of wide play last season, but knew when he needed to come central. After 18 minutes, he drifted in to the Palace box unmarked to smash home a delightful volleyed effort with real composure.
Up until this point, Wolves haven’t had that kind of player on the left. They had it on the right with Nélson Semedo, who was also outstanding against Palace, but with two wing-backs ready to fly around and wreak havoc, Wolves were unstoppable.
This is the style of play that fans have been crying out for all season. Sure, the possession is nice to watch, but Aït-Nouri and Semedo brought drive and ambition. Wolves looked like they wanted to play football for a change, and they got the three points they so richly deserved.