Bottom-half battlers Wolverhampton Wanderers and Crystal Palace will both seek an immediate return to winning ways in the Premier League when they square off in Tuesday’s contest at Molineux.
The hosts fell to a 2-1 defeat to Leicester City on Saturday afternoon, despite going a goal up at the King Power, while Roy Hodgson’s side played out a drab goalless draw with Everton.
Not long after setting up Cunha’s opener on Saturday, Mario Lemina was withdrawn at half time due to a hamstring injury, but the Gabon international seemingly laid any fears to rest when he was seen walking normally after the game.
Nevertheless, Lemina will need careful assessment over the next 48 hours, and Lopetegui continues to work without Sasa Kalajdzic and Chiquinho (both knee), while Boubacar Traore is still lacking match fitness and may only make the bench at best.
Should Lemina not be risked from the first whistle, Ruben Neves should immediately return to the fold in the middle of the park, while Diego Costa and Pablo Sarabia failed to make much of an impact at the King Power and could find their places under threat from Daniel Podence and Adama Traore.
As for Crystal Palace, Hodgson is hopeful that Zaha (groin) and Nathaniel Clyne (knee) will be back on the training pitches at some point this week, but Tuesday’s game is expected to come too soon for both men to make their comebacks.
Meanwhile, the luckless Nathan Ferguson has now picked up a fresh muscular problem – a serious one at that – and will remain sidelined for some time, but Hodgson does not have any fresh worries to factor in from the stalemate with Everton.
Vicente Guaita was back on the bench at the weekend, but Johnstone has done enough to retain possession of the gloves on Tuesday, while Mateta and Will Hughes are options to freshen up the XI if tired legs come into play.
Wolverhampton Wanderers possible starting lineup:
Sa; Semedo, Kilman, Dawson, Bueno; Traore, Gomes, Neves, Nunes; Cunha, Podence
Crystal Palace possible starting lineup:
Johnstone; Ward, Andersen, Guehi, Mitchell; Schlupp, Doucoure, Eze; Olise, Mateta, Ayew
Prediction: Wolverhampton Wanderers 1-1 Crystal Palace
It has been nearly four years since these two sides shook hands on a draw, but as the table suggests, there is barely anything to separate them, and we just cannot pick a clear winner in this one.
Lopetegui’s side have turned up the heat in front of their own fans recently, but their performance at Leicester evidently worsened when Lemina was withdrawn, and any doubts over his fitness will be taken advantage of by a Palace side who still showed plenty of attacking intent in their draw with Everton.