Reading Vs Wolves Preview

It’s been a long old fortnight.

Maybe it’s because we played on the Friday prior to the international break so it’s consequently been two blank weekends without a fix?

Either way, it’s felt painful.

I’m so buoyant about our prospects right now I just want to get through the games as quickly as possible.

Bring it on.

Reading

That said, I smell danger in this one. Edwards, Bodvarsson, former players, our record, etc, etc. You know what I mean.

Add to that the fact that Reading’s form has improved of late and a 4-2 win at Derby certainly raised a few eyebrows.

It’s worth remembering too they came within a slither of reaching the Premier League last season so have pedigree.

Along with the players they recruited from Nuno’s ‘no longer required’ list, they also added Sone Aluko from Fulham for serious cash. His pace and guile could prove problematic.

Equally so, big Yann Kermorgant. We’ve struggled against target men this season and he’s been a thorn in our side before.

The Royals have only mustered 2 wins from their 7 homes matches thus far, so there’s nothing to fear in terms of fortress Mad Stad, despite our record being iffy at best.

Wolves

Hopefully no injuries or excessive fatigue knocking around Compton after some of our best and brightest jetted off to represent their countries.

I suppose that will become evident in Nuno’s team selection tomorrow. If everyone is fit and available I’d expect something very close to the side that saw off Fulham.

There’s plenty of competition for places though so I won’t be too disheartened if we see changes for the greater good.

Predictions

It’s a tough looking game on paper but we’ve got nearly twice as many points as Reading, so perhaps it’s they who should be fearful?

I haven’t seen a lot of them this season, but if they’re still about retaining possession and building up slowly I think that suits Wolves.

In a game of chess, I would back us to get the win every time.

2-1.

Up The Wolves!

Wolves Vs Fulham Preview

Dreams do come true.

Last December I was watching open mouthed and even more gormless than usual as Fulham caressed the ball around the Molineux pitch making us look positively prehistoric in the process.

‘I wish we could play like them’, one poor, frostbitten soul uttered as Dave Edwards mis-controlled the ball out for a throw in.

Well, fast forward a year and the Nuno revolution is in full swing and Fulham fans would probably chew off their own arms to swap places.

Given how they play and our rapid ascent to the realms of liquid football, this could be a really nice game.

Fulham

I thought they’d win the play-offs last season after breaking into the top six down the final stretch.

They were by far and away the best footballing side in the division, but I suppose you could see their defensive frailties might hold them back.

For whatever reason, they haven’t really started firing this season and are well back in 16th after losing at home to Bristol City the other night.

In fact they haven’t won any of the last four, which has derailed their short lived charge up the table. They should rightly fear this fixture too.

No doubting they have quality though. Tom Cairney and our old mucka Kevin McDonald are a technically adept midfield partnership and could dictate if we allow them the space.

Floyd Ayite was a thorn in our side in this fixture last season, so he’s another to keep an eye on tomorrow.

Wolves

It was great to comeback so emphatically after losing against QPR. Wolves did the same things, but just a bit better and with a bit more appetite.

I’m very comfortable with starting the same team that won at Carrow Road. Assuming no injuries or fatigue, everyone justified their selection.

Saiss can probably count himself a bit unlucky, but if you lose your place in this side, be it to injury or suspension, you leave yourself open to a stint on the sidelines.

He might come straight back in but I thought N’Diaye gave us that punch we’re sometimes lacking and allowed Neves a bit more room to breathe.

Predictions

Logically this should be an open game with both teams trying to get on the ball and pass and Wolves winning because they have more quality.

That is therefore my prediction.

It would be lovely to go into Saturday knowing we can’t be overtaken and with the prospect of putting a bit of daylight between ourselves and the immediate chasers.

Make it so lads. 3-1.

Up The Wolves!

Norwich City 0 Wolves 2

You can’t accuse either side of not playing the game the right way.

The ball was zip-zapping around the Carrow Road pitch all evening and with space to aim their passes, Wolves always looked the more likely winners.

Two goals could easily have been three, four or five if a small selection of the clear openings created had been despatched.

But too many times legs got tangled, defenders got back or the final ball simply wasn’t good enough. I feared the worst.

Norwich were busy and always on the edge of breaking through so when Leo Bonatini’s ninth goal of the season finally arrived it mercifully prevented a grandstand finish.

Wily Boly’s early header was a welcome bonus ball and his presence in the back three immediately makes Wolves a more imposing proposition.

Not only does the giant Frenchman look a foot taller than everyone else, but his calmness in possession is like having another midfielder on the pitch. Quite handy for our style of play.

He also made a superb last ditch intervention to toe poke the ball over his own crossbar with Cameron Jerome poised to score his inevitable goal.

Ryan Bennett isn’t as fancy but barely put a foot wrong all evening, so those two should feel confident of keeping their places for the Fulham game.

N’Diaye brought to the midfield what Boly added to the defence – raw power and calmness on the ball. I’ll forgive him a few awful misses. He powered up and down all night, which freed up Neves to pull some strings.

It wasn’t our star midfielder’s best night as too many passes went astray but in the spells of possession when the team looked at it’s more imperious, he was inevitably at the epicentre.

Jota and Cavaleiro were both typically dynamic and mobile, stretching Norwich on the break and giving Wolves endless menace.

With Helder Costa still looking a yard off the pace and notably uninterested, it’s hard to look beyond those two at the minute.

Bright was strong and skillful in his cameo, but again wasted a wonderful chance of his own creation, getting his pocket picked at the crucial moment.

Nuno’s got to be pleased though. Players seem to be able to drift in and out of this side without the overall quality suffering.

That bodes well for the long winter ahead. If we’re built for distance as well as speed, I can’t see anyone overtaking.

Norwich City Vs Wolves Preview

We’ve swallowed a few tough defeats at Carrow Road over the years. But then again, we’ve enjoyed some mesmeric highs too.

I remember a feeling of complete emptiness after that harrowing 3-1 play-off defeat in the infamous 2001-02 campaign.

But Wolves triumphed 3-0 the following year en route to the Premier League. I love you George Ndah.

There was a 5-2 battering to endure in our promotion season under Mick McCarthy, and we also ended up on the wrong side of another 3-1 last season, albeit under controversial circumstances.

But what about Robbie Keane’s debut? Or that chip from Bully over Bryan Gunn? They more than cancel out the anguish.

I feel like this one could very easily end up in either camp.

Norwich

Daniel Farke was cock of the walk after their victory over Ipswich the other week as the Canaries continued their climb up the table.

But defeat against Derby on Saturday has checked that progress, so he’ll be keen to start another unbeaten run to get them cemented in the top six.

I expected Norwich to be in the automatic promotion mix last season, but after falling dismally short and seeing a couple of players leave in the summer I wasn’t convinced they’d do a lot this time.

They’re up and around the action though so who knows?

Like Wolves they played a blinder in the cup, taking Arsenal to extra-time before eventually succumbing late on at the Emirates.

They’ve still got familiar foes like Cameron Jerome and Wes Hoolahan as well as reported Wolves target Nelson Oliveira who remains their joint top scorer in a stop-start season to date.

But with just 14 league goals so far, only four teams have a weaker attack so this notoriously high scoring fixture might be in for a quieter year.

Wolves

I don’t think it would hurt to freshen things up after the weekend. Having watched the game, I can definitely say the team looked like it needed a lift.

Boly, Vinagre and N’Diaye could give us more mobility and power. Bright is worth a start too having enjoyed his performance (minus finishing) at the Etihad.

While I agree with those who say Norris should be pushing Ruddy for a league start, I’m not a fan of changing the keeper around too much so I think if Nuno makes that big call, he’s got to stick with it.

There are plenty of combinations of course and this is just one. The defeat gives the coach a mandate to do as he wishes.

Predictions

I thought we’d win at the weekend and we lost. The performance wasn’t great either, but Wolves still created enough clear opportunities to have won the game.

Norwich don’t look as expansive as QPR, but I still think we’ll unpick them and create, so it becomes about taking those chances and keeping the back door shut.

I’ll back us for an edgy 2-1.

Up the Wolves!

QPR 2 Wolves 1

Fair play to QPR, I don’t begrudge them the win.

More for what they did in the second half than the first. They showed an increasing appetite to pile forward and muscle their way into the ascendancy.

That said, as the home side’s confidence grew, Wolves wasted two excellent chances to get themselves ahead but neither Bonatini or Jota could supply the finish.

If they had done, I think that would have been that, but instead Ian Holloway’s side continued to grow in belief and our defence are always vulnerable to those second phase crosses.

We won’t be the last team to see points disappear via Matt Smith’s forehead either and it’s a reminder to everyone that if you don’t maintain your standards, the Championship will bite back.

In the first half I couldn’t see QPR scoring from open play. Wolves were hardly razor sharp but it had the look of a game that would eventually turn in our favour.

They created little and were playing a high line. Cavaleiro and Jota both came close to breaking the trap and the latter dragged a shot wide after a good run.

But Saiss got caught in his own defensive third and Washington did well to lift the ball over Ruddy and squeeze the ball in at the near post.

The immediate equaliser via Jota’s unbelievable run and Bonatini’s bullet finish should have been the shot in the arm the lads needed a for a second half onslaught.

Instead it was QPR who came out firing and immediately saw a shot come off the bar.

Then came the missed chances in that period of the game that Wolves have been so effective this season and that profligacy was the difference between victory and defeat.

Any loss is painful when you’ve become accustomed to winning, but I don’t see this team embarking on a long winless run.

As Nuno pointed out afterwards, Wolves lacked intensity. I agree. Collectively they weren’t quite at the races.

A response is needed and Norwich away under the floodlights is a notoriously difficult challenge.

I suspect though, we will see that response.

QPR Vs Wolves Preview

Pep Guardiola’s comments about the ball after Tuesday night were ill-judged.

Not least because it revealed he hadn’t even heard of Mitre. Call yourself a football man.

More seriously, I don’t understand how he can say it was ‘impossible to score’ after his team effortlessly dispatched four penalties.

Both teams were spraying the ball around the pitch all night and if you can play a 30 yard pass, you can certainly stroke the ball into the goal from inside the penalty area.

Even if the ball is a bit naff, I thought it lacked class to make those comments in the immediate aftermath of the game, particularly as he gave Wolves no credit at all for their performance.

QPR

Back in the real world QPR haven’t won any of their last 7 matches, turning a solid start into a rapid slide down the table.

Looking at some of their fixtures, they can hardly bemoan tough opposition either. Bolton, Sunderland, Burton and Barnsley have all taken points off the Rs in what’s been a disappointing spell for Ian Holloway’s side.

Too many draws has been the problem. Nearly half their games have ended in stalemate, which is reflected in their scored 16, conceded 17 stats.

They’re not particularly prolific or miserly in defence. They just look, on paper at least, very, very average.

Individually, they’ve got a few players I’ve always liked. Jamie Mackie, Massimo Luongo and Jake Bidwell are all proven Championship performers and in previous years I’d be weary about their collective qualities.

Interesting to see they’ve been stung with a huge fine (£40 million reported) for their cavalier attitude towards Financial Fair Play following their previous Championship promotion campaign.

That kind of walloping great payout will surely restrict their ability to grow in the seasons to come? Hopefully we don’t end up in the same ship.

Wolves

If you’re one of those ‘the league is all that matters’ people then Tuesday must have been pretty splendid. Most of the key men were rested and many of the others only played a supporting role.

Ruddy, Douglas, Doherty, Neves, Saiss and Jota didn’t play a single minute between them. Cavaleiro and Bonatini enjoyed breezy cameos without overly extending themselves.

I don’t know what’s happened to Willy Boly as I expected him to start at the Etihad, so perhaps he’s being saved with a view to slotting back in tomorrow? Unless I’ve missed something about an injury setback.

If the above guesswork proves accurate, Conor Coady will be the only marathon man asked to back up his exploits in the cup with another performance tomorrow. I wouldn’t back against him.

Predictions

The Championship is rarely predictable but we should win this game. Looking ahead to the Norwich fixture and next Friday’s game against Fulham as a block of three, this looks the most straightforward task.

Looking at the odds at Betway, Wolves are being offered at 23/20 for the win so the bookies are confident of us taking the points.

I don’t mean any disrespect to QPR, but looking at where they are currently, our playing squad and how much we have in reserve, the logical conclusion is a Wolves victory.

Even though they’re overdue a good result and perhaps a bit of luck, I think we’ll get it done.

3-1.

Up The Wolves!