Wolves Vs Blackburn Rovers Preview

I don’t recall many home wins over Blackburn.

rhodes

The most recent clash, an agricultural 1-1 in Dean Saunders’ first game in charge, won’t last long in the memory banks either.

Before that there was a horrid 2-0 defeat in a season that saw both clubs fall through the Premier League trapdoor.

A year earlier Rovers triumphed again in a famous 3-2 where Stephen Hunt scored that goal. A glorious defeat I’ll grant you, but defeat all the same.

It’s about time then we had some joy out of this bogey fixture.

Blackburn

Blackburn-Rovers-iconLike Wolves, a significant reduction in off the field drama at Ewood Park has brought about an upturn in fortunes on it.

Gary Bowyer looks like a safe pair of hands and after narrowly missing out on the playoffs last time out, Rovers look well equipped to sustain a challenge this season.

They’ve got goals in their team and are playing hardball to keep them. A rebuffed £12 million offer from Hull for Jordan Rhodes was a strong statement of intent. Whether or not he’ll still be hanging around come September is another question completely.

But they’re not all about Rhodes. Rudy Gestede is finding the net regularly and there’s quality throughout the spine of their team from Paul Robinson in goal, big Grant Hanley at the back and young midfielder Tom Cairney looking to fulfill his much talked about potential.

Wolves

It says a lot that Wolves are currently playing the best passing football they’ve arguably ever managed, yet still decided to add another midfielder. George Saville will have a scrap on his hands to even make the bench at present.

Wolves Blackburn

Tommy Rowe should also be back in contention and with Lee Evans doing a stellar job alongside big Mac, there are options galore for Kenny.

I’m not expecting any changes to the side from last weekend but there are a wealth of options for the manager to explore should he so choose.

It’s exciting times at Molineux and the biggest challenge will almost certainly be keeping all of these talented, ambitious players happy.

The gaffer

Predictions

Well done to everyone who predicted victory over Cardiff.

There were 11 who bagged a maximum with the correct scoreline: MrAussieWolf, Mosman wolf, DCWolves, trenchmanmick, Twixfix, Dave h, Ed Farley, ManxWolf91, Benny, Sutton Wolf and Man in Sherpa Van.

Undoubtedly another tough game in prospect. Blackburn are an experienced and settled Championship unit. They also have the individuals to hurt us.

However I simply can’t predict anything other than a Wolves victory based on what I’ve seen so far this season, which in short is a pleasing continuation of our League One form against better opposition.

Confidence is high, Molineux expects and I back this team to deliver.

2-1

Up The Wolves

Wolves 1 Cardiff City 0

You don’t always get what you deserve.

Wolves Cardiff

Just ask Mark Hudson.

The big centre half manfully repelled everything a dominant Wolves side had to offer in the regulation ninety.

But a tired injury time slip and slice later, he’d denied his side what would have been a hard earned point.

It was cruel on the Cardiff skipper yet there can be no doubt Wolves merited the fortune.

For 45 glorious Molineux minutes, the home side subjected the Bluebirds to wave after wave of unrewarded bombardment.

Sako hit the inside of the post from the corner flag, van La Parra headed wide and Doherty could only graze the side netting but the crowd purred at the prowess of Wolves’ zip-zapping possession football.

And whilst yes, conversion rate remains a significant concern, nobody can deny this is a wonderful team playing some of the best football we’ve seen in decades.

Team is the crucial word. This isn’t about a few talented individuals carrying the weak links. This is one to eleven operating as a fluid and cohesive unit. It’s fantastic to watch.

Kenny’s boys didn’t have it all their own way of course and when Cardiff got their act together after the break, it could be argued they carried the greater threat.

They definitely created the clearest chance of the game with Kenywe Jones only able to fire straight at Carl Ikeme from point blank distance. The keeper did well to stand up strong.

Wolves were huffing and puffing by that stage but dutifully stuck to their passing principles and forced the all important mistake.

The finish might have owed much to lady luck, but they again shuffled the ball smartly to McDonald in the crossing position and the law of averages did the rest.

With a whopping 67% share of possession yesterday (incidentally Chelsea only managed 63% against Leicester) it’s clear Wolves always had an element of control.

And any team will do well to get anything at Molineux this season if the home side can replicate that type of ball retention on a consistent basis.

Consistency will perhaps be the greatest challenge of all over a grueling 46 game season.

But nothing we’ve seen so far suggests Wolves won’t continue to get what their performances deserve.

The gaffer

Wolves Vs Cardiff City Preview

In the last three seasons, these two old clubs have shared five divisional changes between them.

Cardiff celebrate

Both have enjoyed the good times but have also endured their share of pantomime and misery.

For the moment at least, the equilibrium has been restored with the Wolves and the Bluebirds waging war on the familiar playground of the Championship.

Unsurprisingly for two clubs so familiar with the promotion relegation hokey-cokey, both have ambitions to make another swift exit.

On recent history it seems likely at least one will succeed.

Cardiff City

Cardiff_City_Crest.svgAnnoyingly likeable would be a term I’d use to describe Ole Gunnar Solskjær. But like him or not, the track record of Norwegian managers in the Championship is anything but pleasant.

Just ask Messrs Solbakken and Berg whose collective time in charge lasted little over half a season. Cardiff will hope their coach’s Manchester United pedigree will make him the exception to the rule.

The early signs are encouraging. Two wins a draw from their three opening fixtures sees the Welsh side setting the pace despite losing a clutch of high profile players over the summer.

Campbell, Caulker, Medel and Mutch have all departed, but there remains some proven Championship talent along with the standard smattering of Scandinavian imports.

Kenywe Jones seems custom-built for this league and with the likes of Nicky Maynard and Adam Le Fondre also knocking around, firepower shouldn’t be in short supply.

Wolves

I don’t think Fulham are in great shape right now, but that was still a highly impressive win in midweek. There’s absolutely no reason Wolves can’t go anywhere in this division, play their football and expect to get a result.

Wolves Cardiff

I incorrectly predicted changes in personnel at Craven Cottage and just as well it seems. Kenny Jackett says the above starting eleven are making it difficult for anyone else to break in.

Even the perceived weaker links like Lee Evans are upping their game and establishing themselves. That can only be a positive thing, particularly with Henry, Jacobs and Ricketts waiting to step in if the level drops.

The return of Tommy Rowe and the expected arrival of at least one new signing before the end of August should leave the manager with good options, cover and variety.

The gaffer

Predictions

Well done to everyone who correctly foresaw victory at Craven Cottage. 11 people did so and also got the 1-0 scoreline to scoop the maximum 3 points.

The roll of honour is: robertsbridgewolf, steppenwolfe, fatjack, vicsmith, Lobo de Malaga, Danny Velinksi, Brompton Wolf, Perth Wolves, Border Wolf, Dave H and ferris. Congratulations to all.

I said to Ben in the week, isn’t it nice to go to games, particularly at home thinking ‘they’ll have to play well to beat us’. I think Wolves are a formidable team right now, so Cardiff have a job on their hands.

That said, I think they’ll be the toughest team we’ve faced because they have some of the best individual talent. Whittingham, Jones, Pilkington, Maynard, etc, all bring different threats.

Both teams will score, but I fancy Wolves might just edge it to make it a hat-trick of early wins against the relegated sides.

2-1.

Up The Wolves.

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Fulham 0 Wolves 1

While it’s probably advisable to ignore the league table for the first six games of the season, we can bask in trumping two recent Premier League names in the meantime.

Wolves Fulham

Beating Fulham, in addition to the opening day Norwich City scalp, is probably the most succinct commentary on where our team is currently at on the pitch, amid much gnashing and wailing of teeth off it.

This 1-0 win was as straightforward as any could dare hope for from a notoriously difficult Craven Cottage ground, where we last got pumped 5-0 (after a miserable 2-1 loss the year before).

Resolute at the back and dangerous on the counter, Kenny Jackett’s recipe looks as tasty as ever – but for that missing ingredient that so many are crying out for.

Danny Batth’s missed header in the first half – followed by Matt Doherty’s even easier opportunity in the second – sounded as ominous as those squandered at Rotherham.

Thankfully they weren’t, with Sako’s injury time penalty miss proving mildly irritating at the very worst.

So from New York to London and back to Wolverhampton with three points, which represents a better return than the two draws I’d have personally taken beforehand.

View from the away end

View from the away end

Raj van La Parra sounded sublime once again, and might have hogged the back pages but for an iffy final ball or two.

Equally encouragingly, Lee Evans enjoyed his best game of the season in a deeper lying role, allowing McDonald to influence the game to our advantage.

Then there’s our mercurial matchwinner Sako, opening his account with a well worked corner routine (when have we said that before?!), only to miss the chance to grab a second from the penalty spot to add an appropriate coating of gloss.

If those ‘big decisions’ Kenny referred to after Rotherham can be made off the pitch, then the smiles engendered tonight will last a little longer.

Add some better judgement in front of goal and they’ll still be etched to our faces when we’re finally allowed to look at that table!

The gaffer

Fulham Vs Wolves Preview

As Wolves found out at the weekend, possession really is only nine tenths of the law.

Fulham

They had the ball 67% of the time against Rotherham but came away with nothing to show for it. No points. No goals. Zip.

Fulham have clocked up similar stats in both of their games and things are even worse for the Cottagers. They’ve yet to score or put a single point on the board in what’s been a nightmare start to their campaign.

This encounter represents an interesting proposition then. Two teams who like to get the ball down and play, but are struggling to put things together at the business end of the pitch.

Fulham

Fulham_FC_LogoI’ll be surprised if Fulham are challenging for promotion. I look at their squad, their manager and the general setup at Craven Cottage and it screams inconsistency.

They had a useful formula during their long Premier League stay of picking up good players leaving the top clubs (e.g. Duff, Sidwell, Berbatov, Murphy, etc) and getting a few years out of them, but Felix Magath is employing a different approach.

His cocktail of young players and untested foreigners seems a very risky strategy. The likes of Scott Parker and Ross McCormack should provide good experience, but it’s a real mish-mash of a squad.

Back-to-back defeats are already piling on the pressure so desperation will be in the air from the kick-off tomorrow. That can go one of two ways.

Wolves

Wolves were highly impressive, albeit in defeat, against Rotherham. If they play as well as that in the remaining 44 games, they’ll be much closer to the top than the bottom.

Wolves Fulham

I’ll be surprised if there aren’t changes though and the likes of Jacobs and Henry have been unlucky to sit out the opening two games. Price for Evans might be another tempter for Kenny. He’ll also have Tommy Rowe available for the weekend.

The gaffer

Predictions

A handful of people correctly predicted defeat on Saturday, but it was generally a low scoring affair.

I’ve played it safe and got it totally wrong in my guesses thus far, so I’m being bolder this time.

I think Wolves will see less of the ball but hurt Fulham on the break. A 3-1 away win for me.

Up The Wolves.

Rotherham United 1 Wolves 0

Owing to the joys of Canadian television I was able to savour this deflating loss from the comfort of my computer screen.

Wolves Rotherham

To say Wolves were unlucky to leave New York stadium without so much as a nibble from the Big Apple would be a gross understatement. They should have taken the full bite.

In short, they dominated the entire game against a surprisingly average Rotherham side who were left chasing shadows right up until the point Dave Edwards clubbed a lazy clearance against a red shirt which rebounded past a helpless Carl Ikeme.

But on the day Chris Wood came off the bench to plunder a late equaliser for the team that no longer want him, Wolves were left ruing the lack of a viable option in attack.

Lone striker Nouha Dicko was wasteful in front of goal throughout, most notably when chipping wide after going clean through in the first half. His all round play remains strong but he was expensively profligate today.

Sako also failed to fire. He got three bites of the cherry in one must-score attack but sandwiched an air kick with two fierce strikes right at the goalkeeper.

Had any of the above resulted in Wolves taking a deserved lead into the break, a convincing away victory would have been very much on the cards.

But as the game drifted aimlessly in a second half Wolves continued to boss, albeit with no real menace, the almost inevitable sucker punch duly arrived.

The sum total of Rotherham’s attacking threat from minute one to ninety was a long ball headed on which resulted in a shot against the bar and a corner they shouldn’t have had that saw them steal the unlikely winner.

Replays showed Matt Derbyshire ran the ball out of play before winning the decisive flag kick but Dave Edwards will be sorely disappointed that he dawdled before seeing an attempted clearance diverted past his own keeper.

Kenny Jackett will just be disappointed.

He knows Wolves won’t enjoy so much possession in an away match again this season and the lack of invention in the final third will be cause for much concern.

Last year the gaffer saw a similarly dominant performance against Gillingham go unrewarded as his strikers failed to produce the goods. He subsequently cleared the decks and brought in Nouha Dicko.

Hopefully history repeats itself in consecutive transfer windows because on today’s evidence a very talented Wolves team are only missing the necessary variety in forward positions.

The fact Jackett opted against introducing either Clarke or McAlinden even after his team fell behind suggests he himself knows what this promising squad lacks.

With two weeks left to fill the vacancy, there can be no excuse for being left short.