Wolves 2 Aston Villa 0

The series of road closures around Molineux couldn’t have been more incongruously timed, with Wolves so utterly brilliant that Highways England and the council combined couldn’t divert Nuno’s men from what appears a relentless journey.

In automotive terms, that was a Bugatti Veyron performance at its most exhilarating, sending the pulses racing, the goosebumps tingling and even the most morbid of fans thinking that our destination might just be reached – with some spare fuel in the tank on last night’s showing.

At various points of this game you felt blessed to be there, alive in the moment and you sensed you could look back on it like you still do for the likes of Sheffield Wednesday in the FA Cup or Bully’s winner against the Blues. That Waterloo Road was coned off afterwards made it even better, as an inadvertent fan zone formed, flooding the street afterwards with supporters singing and bouncing back into town in a scene I’ve not seen in 30 years.

The worry, as always with Wolves, is that something will go wrong. Jota will get crocked, Neves will break down, or Miranda will get homesick and the wheels will fall off. Under Nuno’s watch, you sense he’s got a spare tyre in the boot and won’t panic anyway, as we carry on clocking up the miles on our journey to the place we daren’t mention just yet.

‘We are back in work on Monday and have a tough game on Saturday,’ reflected the boss, at his knowing best.

With the mesmeric Jota and co lighting up the Molineux and a 30,000 strong crowd in full voice, it feels like we’re the sort of formidable force that even Hurricane Ophelia’s couldn’t budge.

The game itself was a joy to watch, as an in-form Villa were swept aside with ease. The defensive three of Coady, Miranda and Batth were first to every ball and stifled every single attack before offloading intelligently. From there, our creative players worked their magic with Neves looking every inch the £15 million man in the middle.

Cavaleiro put in an incredible performance, interchanging with Costa and Diogo, with the twin turbo engines of Douglas and Doherty again knitting it all together. Then Bonatini came on and made us even better.

It sounds so straightforward to explain, so easy to watch and so simple in practice…

The way that football should be played.

Wolves Vs Aston Villa Preview

Unlike last season when both teams were farting around in lower midtable, this game has substance.

Taking 4 points off them was enjoyable but it didn’t count for anything in the final reckoning and they still finished above us.

Now we’re riding high but they’re also coming up like an express train with four wins in a row lifting them to within a point of the play-offs.

Derailing that progress and possibly taking ourselves to the top of the table in the process would be some statement of intent. They’ll be equally buoyant if things go their way.

A sell out crowd, live on TV, under the floodlights – it’s got all the big game feels.

Villa

They’ve finally got their act together for Steve Bruce, which isn’t a great surprise. Both manager and players have done it all before.

Over the last year they’ve brought in most of the best Championship talent and supplemented that with several proven Premier League performers including John Terry.

Glen Whelan, Robert Snodgrass and Ahmed Elmohamady are performers the boss can rely on to deliver. The latter pair have already got him out of this league once during their time at Hull.

Kodjia is a key player and gives them that zip up front. If he remains fit, he’ll easily surpass the 20 goal mark. We need to keep him tied up tomorrow.

Young Keinan Davis is also making a big impression and he’s definitely another to look out for. Adomah and Onomah are other pacey threats Wolves may have to suppress.

Wolves

Nuno’s got some tactical headaches after demolishing Burton, assuming everyone is fit. We’ve all got our preferences and this is mine.

As others have stated Villa won’t risk playing a high line, so I think we need Bonatini back in the side to make it stick. Coady should also come back in based on his performances prior to taking an early shower at Bramall Lane.

Boly and Douglas (if fit) for Batth and Vinagre is harsh but I just think the team is stronger and more solid with those two playing. Others will disagree.

The above team omits Vinagre, Cavaliero, Enobakhare, Marshall and N’Diaye – all players I’d never be disappointed to see in the starting eleven indicating just how good life is at present.

Predictions

Here’s the thing. I feel like winning this one would be too good to be true, so I’ve convinced myself we’ll probably get turned over. Football fan logic has washed over me.

We shouldn’t fear Villa though and I believe we have better players, albeit with less experience. If both teams play to their maximum I think Wolves win out.

They’ll come with a plan to shut down space and use their know-how to simply edge us out, much like Cardiff were able to do a few months back so it’s whether we’ve learned to deal with that kind of treatment.

As I think we should win, but will probably lose I’ll sit on the fence and say Even Stevens.

1-1.

Up The Wolves!

Burton Albion 0 Wolves 4

In the wake of this victory – our most convincing of the season by some distance – one can only assume that the Wolves players wiled away the hours of Friday night playing FIFA 18.

The football on display at the Pirelli Stadium was often befitting of a video game, such was the precision of our build up play and composure in front of goal.

The footwork of the diminutive pairing of Ivan Cavaleiro and Ruben Vinagre was often the stuff of pure fantasy, with poor Stephen Warnock ending up on his backside when attempting to prevent our fourth and final goal.

It was a performance to behold, one that erased the premature fear of a dip in form following our defeat to Sheffield United.

Given our response to the loss against Cardiff earlier in the season, that always seemed unlikely but those of a glass half empty persuasion can be forgiven for expecting the worst given there is the small matter of the derby with in-form Aston Villa looming.

As pointed out in previous blogs, Wolves finally seem to have found themselves a manager capable of instilling a winning mentality within the club and that was never more apparent than yesterday.

Say what you like about the Brewers, but they’re a formidable side at home that try and play football the right way.

Nonetheless, their efforts were fruitless yesterday as we surged into an early two goal lead.

Cavaleiro, in the sort of form that makes him worthy of the seemingly never ending song that has been dedicated to him, did well to tee up the clinical Diogo Jota for the first, whilst the less Stephen Bywater hears about the Roman Saiss’ tap in that followed shortly after the better.

If those goals were pleasing but somewhat underwhelming, the following two made for gleeful viewing.

Ruben Vinagre, arguably the best performer on the pitch, weaved his way into the opposition box in a manner befitting of the world’s very best full backs before dispatching the ball low and hard past the hapless Bywater.

Though he is far from the finished article, it is becoming clearer with every passing game that the Portuguese loanee is a frightful talent that has the potential to go far in his career.

It was hard to see that goal being topped for quality, but the fourth was the result of some simply outrageous skill.

After turning the aforementioned Warnock inside out, Cavaleiro squared the ball to the also excellent Matt Doherty who rolled it nto the path of a gleeful Leo Bonatini for an easy fourth goal of his Wolves career.

Liquid football is the most appropriate term to describe this performance, and we now head into the international break, dependent on today’s results, sitting pretty in second place.

We can only hope that the ensuing spate of international games does not throw us off kilter, as you’d suspect we’ll have to replicate these standards when facing the more challenging prospect of Steve Bruce’s promotion chasers.

One thing’s for certain though, in this sort of form, Nuno’s men are capable of putting anyone to the sword.

Burton Albion Vs Wolves Preview

In the same way that consecutive wins build confidence, back-to-back defeats are problematic.

After losing to Cardiff, we beat Southampton in the cup and got a solid point at Brentford. It felt like we were immediately back in business.

We need to do something similar again ahead of the international break with a derby to come against Villa straight after. We don’t want a bad result to become a bad run.

Burton are no slouches, particularly on their own ground, but this remains a good opportunity to bounce back.

Burton

They’re a funny old team who’ve registered all sorts of results so far, beating Fulham at home one week and getting slapped by Villa 4-0 the next. Leeds also took them to the cleaners at Elland Road.

Towards the end of last season they looked a dangerous side. Michael Kightly and Cauley Woodrow came in and they were making life difficult for everyone, including Wolves.

They beat us 2-1 to curtail Paul Lambert’s brief march up the table and were good value for that win, turning things around after Helder Costa’s penalty gave Wolves the lead.

But Kightly and Woodrow are no more. Their talisman Jackson Irvine was also sold to Hull in August so it’s been another summer reshuffle for Nigel Clough.

One player they have recruited is Sean Scannell and he has been a thorn in our side on several occasions for Huddersfield and could be again tomorrow.

Wolves man Joe Mason hasn’t been able to consistently force his way into their first eleven yet and they won’t be able to call on his services in this one against his parent club.

Wolves

The key question is who slots in while Conor Coady serves his suspension? Deslandes, Bennett and Hause are the most likely candidates but there are more left field solutions.

It would be a bold move to play Romain Saiss in the back three but he’s come on and played there a few times, so I believe this will be one of the ideas Nuno considers.

Surely Helder Costa will be given another chance to play? Like everyone else, I’m excited to see if he can link up with Jota and Bonatini to create one of the most formidable front three combinations we’ve ever had.

Bonatini also came off at half time against Sheffield United, so hopefully he’s fresh for this one, but with Costa back I can see both Enobakhare and Cavaleiro played down the middle if the Brazilian needs a rest.

Predictions

I’m backing us to get the win. I think it will be a tough game, but this group of players have the quality and a winning mentality.

The key is playing our way into the game and controlling possession. That won’t be easy on a tight pitch with the crowd on top of them, but they’ll get it done.

2-1.

Up The Wolves!

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Sheffield United 2 Wolves 0

We were never in this one.

Even before Conor Coady was sent off for hauling down Leon Clarke the home side were well on top.

They were quicker to the ball, snappier in the tackle and effervescent in their efforts to stop Wolves playing out.

That enthusiasm forced the mistake and from that point on it was one way traffic until they made the breakthrough.

For all their intricate build up play, the goals that won it were meat and drink, with Clarke inevitably there to connect with the crosses.

It’s disappointing in that sense they didn’t have to play through us to win the day. It all felt too easy.

Ruben Neves should have made life significantly more uncomfortable by tying things up from the spot, but truthfully he never looked like scoring.

It was one of those jittery half-baked run ups that rarely inspires confidence and the contact was then less than perfect.

Had Helder Costa still been on the pitch he might well have taken responsibility but on a night of disappointment he was hooked in the tactical reshuffle after Coady headed for the shower.

Still, it’s good that he’s now considered fit enough to feature and you would think he’ll get a relaunch on Saturday.

Beyond that crumb of positive news you’re hard pressed to find anything else.

The lesson to learn is start faster.

Teams will press high and try to force mistakes. Wolves have to show more tenacity, more imagination and a greater appetite to establish a foothold so they can play their game.

This was a blip but it was a blip you could see coming.

Take the medicine and go again.

Sheffield Utd Vs Wolves Preview

Will I ever be able to think about Sheffield Utd without thinking about 2003?

Probably not.

The Blades haven’t had too many opportunities for vengeance since with both clubs ducking and diving around the top three divisions.

But in our last two promotion campaigns, in the Championship under McCarthy and League One under Jackett, we’ve landed good victories at Bramall Lane.

They’re formidable opposition again these days so a third consecutive victory at this famous old ground would be another impressive statement of intent.

Sheffield Utd

Chris Wilder’s newly promoted team ran riot in the Steel City Derby on Sunday, overcoming their nearest and dearest 4-2 at Hillsborough.

That’s their sixth victory from nine matches and puts them in fourth place, just two points behind their opponents tomorrow.

To say that Wilder has done a splendid job for the club he supported growing up would be an understatement. Where various high profile managers failed he succeeded in getting them out of League One.

Now they’re back they look well set to push for the top six again, doing what so many others have done before, carrying that winning momentum into the Championship.

Midfielder John Fleck is earning rave reviews and he scored a belting free kick to put them ahead at the weekend. He’s one to watch.

Leon Clarke scored twice in the same game and we all know everything there is to know about him. You can bet he’ll be itching to make an impact again.

Wolves

Nuno may choose to reward the players who won us the game on Saturday. That would mean the following team:

I like Vinagre but Douglas is the senior pro and we looked much tighter defensively after half time with him down the left.

Saiss and Cavaleiro didn’t do much wrong but the impact of N’Diaye and Enobakhare was clear. That said, it  comes down to what the head coach needs for this particular game.

N’Diaye is a bigger physical presence, whereas Saiss is more considered in possession. Some have suggested Neves needs resting, but I’d be loathe to leave him out.

Cavaleiro is the type of player home supporters dread seeing, all pace and quick feet around their penalty area. But Bright’s confidence is up so I’d expect to see him get a good chunk of the action.

They’re nice problems to have though and I genuinely don’t mind who plays. The tantalising prospect of Helder Costa’s return is also imminent. He might get some minutes tomorrow.

The betting odds

It’s no surprise that Wolves are 6/4 to win this one with a home victory fancied at 9/5. Visit the Ladbrokes free bet offers page for details about how you can enhance your winnings. An aggregate of all the betting sites still shows Wolves as favourites for the title if you’re interested in the longer game, while Diogo Jota for Championship top scorer still looks enticing.

Predictions

We have the best away record in the division and have also beaten Premier League Southampton in the cup so I shouldn’t be that nervous.

But I smell danger in this fixture. At some point we’ll come up against a fired up home team and will have to manage buoyant opposition and a hostile home crowd. This could be that test.

A 4 point return from the next two would be more than satisfactory and I suspect this one might be the draw.

2-2.

Up The Wolves!

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