Wolves captain Conor Coady has complimented midfield team-mates Romain Saiss and Leander Dendoncker for their performances at centre-back in the absence of the injured Willy Boly and Ryan Bennett.
Coady, a near-constant presence in the centre of defence for Wolves, commended the way in which the two players adapted to the position.
He told the Express & Star: “We said how much of a big miss big Boly would be – but we have players to come in.
“Leander is a fantastic player, Saiss plays there for his country (Morocco). He knows how to play the role. He is a fantastic footballer and a brilliant lad. You can see Leander slot in there and take it on board.”
Saiss and Dendoncker played in unfamiliar defensive roles in the 1-1 draw at Arsenal on Saturday, with Boly out of action for an indefinite period after fracturing his fibula and Bennett suffering a groin problem.
Dendoncker brought tremendous composure to the Wolves defence at the Emirates Stadium, completing 31 out of his 34 passes for a 91.2% accuracy rate, while Saiss frequently repelled the Gunners’ attack, making four interceptions as well as winning two aerial duels and one tackle. [via WhoScored]
Their performances were commended by Rosie Swarbrick of the Express & Star, who wrote that Dendoncker “looked more composed and confident” in “a much-improved second-half display” while Saiss “dealt with everything thrown his way”.
Dendoncker’s adjustment to centre-back definitely adds an assured on-the-ball presence to Wolves’ defence – his passing success rate against Arsenal was far higher than the season averages of Boly (78.3%) and Bennett (76.3%).
However, neither he nor Saiss came close to matching the regular centre-backs‘ figures for successful aerial duels per game (4.9 Boly, 2.8 Bennett), while Boly’s tackling average of three per game is far superior to the Belgian’s and Moroccan’s return from last Saturday.
That two midfielders in Dendoncker and Saiss were chosen to start ahead of natural centre-back Jesus Vallejo does not reflect greatly on the Spaniard, who has only played twice in the Premier League this season and immediately lost his place after both games, as per TransferMarkt.
Both Dendoncker and Saiss performed reasonably well against Arsenal last weekend, but neither of them seem able to match the imposing ball-winning ability of Boly at centre-back.
Bennett could return against Aston Villa on Sunday, according to premierinjuries.com, which would leave just one-centre back vacancy to fill.
Dendoncker may get the nod seeing as he brings an efficiency of passing that is superior to Boly and Bennett, but it’s also a damning indictment of where Vallejo stands that two midfield players are getting into the starting line-up in defence ahead of him.
Wolves fans, would you trust either Dendoncker or Saiss to continue deputising at centre-back in Boly’s absence? Join in the discussion by commenting below!
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