PNE in Numbers: Stats behind Wolves’ march to the Premier League

Diogo Jota, right, has been a key figure for Wolves with 12 goals this season.
Diogo Jota, right, has been a key figure for Wolves with 12 goals this season.

A league often dubbed the most competitive and hardest to predict in Europe has been a little different in one respect this season.

There has for large parts been a runaway leader with Wolves closing in on a return to the Premier League ahead of their visit to Deepdale on Saturday.

It may only be the middle of February but Nuno Espirito Santo’s men are 12 points clear at the summit of the second tier with 15 games to play.

They have scored 56 goals, the next best being Fulham on 52, at an average of 1.81 a game.

PNE in comparison have 38, the lowest number in the top half, at an average of 1.23.

Diogo Jota and Leo Bonatini both have 12 goals each with Derby’s Matej Vydra leading the standings on 17 for the season.

Santo’s side have conceded a Championship low 23 goals with their plus 33 goal difference 12 better than the next best of Gary Rowett’s third-placed Rams.

Put together, it all adds up to top-flight football being back at Molineux come August after six years away that included a stint in League One.

After a rocky start, Walter Zenga’s appointment a bizarre one, the current rise has been helped by some serious financial backing from their owners Fosun International who haven’t been afraid to splash the cash.

Guo Guangchang’s group have bankrolled some big-money deals having replaced Paul Lambert with a manager in Santo who has taken charge of some of Europe’s biggest names in Valencia and Porto.

With the aid of super agent Jorge Mendes they have acquired some talent that would not look out of place in the Premier League now, let alone next season.

A club record £15 million was spent bringing in midfielder Ruben Neves from Santo’s former club Porto.

The 20-year-old is one of the rising stars of Portuguese football and already has four international caps to his name.

Former Benfica man Helder Costa came in at a cool £13 million last January while Jota’s loan move from Athletico Madrid will become permanent in the summer for a reported £12 million.

Another attacking talent in Ivan ­Cavaleiro cost a then club record £7 million when signed from Monaco back in August 2016.

With the numbers rising all the time seemingly and with top flight status not far from being secured once again, who would bet against this being just the start at Molineux?