A few days ago, Wolverhampton Wanderers announced that Diogo Jota, Wolves’ leading goalscorer with 15 goals this year, will miss the next 4-6 weeks, or essentially the rest of the year, with an ankle injury that was sustained in the victory over Reading. Jota shared a picture of the injury on his Instagram, suggesting that the injury was the result of foul play.
Foul play or not, this setback could be problematic for the West Midlands club, which is sitting 6 points ahead of second-placed Cardiff City in the Championship table and 13 points ahead of the automatic promotion places with 8 matches to play. Jota has been one of the most important players for Wolves this year, not only scoring goals but creating them as well. His pace and industriousness have been important qualities that have certainly resulted in Premier League promotion for Wolves. However, Wolves have now lost their talisman. So what next?
Thankfully, Wolves have the service of two other talismans who surely will be important components in the ensuing promotion push. First of all, Hélder Costa, a winger who has been with Wolves for two seasons, will be a key player. Bought from Benfica for around $15 million, Costa is known for his incredible control with the ball, creating chances from nothing, and his blistering pace. His left foot can find the perfect pass or the back of the net with ease, exemplified by his goal against Burton Albion on Saturday. Costa also sustained an ankle injury that kept him out in the early fall. However, Costa has recovered and is beginning to find his excellent form again, that which attracted the attention of many top Premier League clubs last summer.
Additionally, Benik Afobe will be a crucial player for Wolves the rest of the way. A more traditional forward than Costa, Afobe played for Wolves for a year in 2015-16, scoring 22 goals in 46 matches. Then, he was sold to Bournemouth, but a lack of game time resulted in his loan back to Wolves for the rest of the season. After a slow start, Afobe has scored 4 times in his last 4 appearances, including a brace against Burton. Afobe surely has rediscovered his form and certainly will continue to lead the line in scoring goals resulting from the “sexy football” Wolves are playing.
In sum, although Diogo Jota’s injury could cause problems for Wolves, they have the appropriate cover in Hélder Costa and Benik Afobe to continue to play in their stellar manner. Thanks to these excellent players, the form of the league leaders should continue in its excellent fashion.