Sit down, get comfortable and strap yourself in for another 38 game ride on the Wolverhampton Wanderers Express. First stop – Ewood Park.
And where better to start than a ground where we’ve consistently received a sound pummeling? Indeed, on our last three visits to Blackburn we’ve conceded 11 goals and scored just 2.
We shouldn’t forget the most recent beating they gave us either, in that miserable first 45 at Molineux back in May, which very nearly condemned us to Championship football. They were stronger, faster and generally better than us in that opening period, a nightmare I’m not particularly keen to revisit on Saturday.
But having played Blackburn on the final game of the 09/10 season and now in the 10/11 opener, you can’t help but see this match as a barometer of summer progress for both clubs.
For Wolves, I think we’re all hoping to see a stronger, less error-prone, more disciplined defence.
The back four on Survival Sunday were an embarrassing shambles, unable to cope with the strength, movement and pace of the Blackburn attack.
It’s entirely feasible we could see a completely different quartet take to the filed on Saturday, led of course by new skipper Roger Johnson.
Much is expected of the giant defender and this really should be his type of game. We’ve been crying out for strength and organisation, two things the former Blues man should bring in spades. No pressure then Rog.
I’m expecting Mick to play 442 at Blackburn, assuming Doyle is fit to partner Fletcher up front. A few people have noted that Wolves have been trying a narrower version of this formation, which I think bodes well and should make us more compact and difficult to breakdown.
This is the team I expect to see and the shape employed:
Hennessy, Stearman, Berra, Johnson, Elokobi, Henry, Hunt, O’Hara, Jarvis, Doyle, Fletcher
I reckon both wide players will be playing from deep rather than pushing up alongside the two forwards. I see Fletcher occupying a deeper-lying role too, allowing Doyle to hold the ball up front and do all the other things he does so well. All of this should give O’Hara freedom to roam, which can only be a good thing.
Other players who could sneak into eleven include Ward at either left-back or forward if Doyle’s not fit, Zubar at right-back or maybe even alongside Johnson in the center of defence. SEB will also come into contention should Doyle not recover in time.
The Wolves Blog Prediction League returns for a second season and just in case you didn’t play along last time, here’s how it works:
To enter each week simply leave your predicted score as a comment in the official preview to every match (such as this one).
You get 3 points for guessing the correct score and 1 point for predicting the correct outcome.
I keep a running tally of the scores and update the table each week to show how everyone’s getting on.
As it’s the opening game and I’m feeling foolishly optimistic, I’m backing the boys to get a win.
I think we’re overdue a good result at Ewood Park and I think we have every reason to feel confident of getting one.
We’ll likely concede but I can see us scoring a few.
If you’re going to this one, have a great time and get right behind the lads. It’s a long season and as we know from experience every point counts.
Up The Wolves.