Wolves 3 Blackburn Rovers 1

From ‘The Wonder of You’ as we arrived to Pharrell Williams’ ‘Happy’ as we left…

Wolves celebrate blackburn

…Feel-good anthems are in plentiful supply at Molineux right now and after another hugely encouraging Championship performance, they’d rarely sounded so good.

Those miserable days, when we’d shuffle off home to that morbid Groundhog instrumental are but a distant memory, with every passing performance like this doing so much to change the record.

Progressive, passing football for those stymied stodge-fests of yesteryear and if music be the food of love, then let us jolly well eat.

A 3-1 triumph over a hugely impressive Blackburn Rovers possibly represents our best win of the season, as the men from Ewood Park looked easily the best team to play at Molineux this season.

Without testing Ikeme in the first half too often, there only looked to be one winner at 2-1 in the second, at the time Jordan Rhodes reduced arrears from a dubious looking penalty.

With the impressive Ben Marshall and the imperious Craig Conway weaving patterns around our penalty area, we were chasing shadows right up until the moment Bakary Sako converted Dicko’s cross to restore our two goal advantage.

From then on in, the Wolves side we’ve all taken to our hearts – that wonderful Wolves side – began to keep the ball in the same virtuous way we’ve been seeing since a January 3 away trip to Gillingham.

Batth and Stearman were typically assured against Blackburn’s blatant goal threat Rhodes and with Doherty and Golbourne alongside, we surely boast two of the most mobile full-backs in the division.

Behind Dave Edward’s lungbusting display of distinction, Lee Evans was only a tad less impressive than his Cardiff masterclass, with McDonald finishing the game like the Rolls Royce we’ve somehow purchased for the price of a Ford Focus.

Bakary Sako was undoubtedly man-of-the-match for his sumptuous first half free-kick, assist for Dicko’s opener and all-important killer goal in the second half.

Nouha Dicko meanwhile gave Grant Hanley and Jason Lowe more work than they probably thought possible from a lone man.

Finally, James Henry eased into his right midfield berth when replacing the booked van La Parra at half time, reminding us all what a safe pair of feet he represents.

And two new faces in Saville and Rowe suggests that this squad isn’t as light as we sometimes think.

With Blackburn nominally 14th in this embryonic league, it’s easy to see why it’s so bloody tough.

So with that in mind, we really shouldn’t expect Elvis on the tannoy every single week, however joyously indefinite it currently sounds.

But because I can’t help falling in love with what Kenny Jackett has created, expect me to sing along regardless.

Highlights

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 Blackburn Rovers 1

Amongst the muck and nettles of Championship football nothing fits better than Wellington boots.

Johnson Blackburn

Unlike his predecessor that’s exactly what Dean Saunders is – appropriate footwear.

And you sense this group of players are more comfortable trudging through the fields than attempting to glide across them.

The new manager’s first team selection was somehow bold and cautious.

Bold for bringing Ronald Zubar in from the cold and handing a league debut to Jake Cassidy.

Cautious for a midfield selection that favoured hard graft over guile and craft.

Featuring a full back and two holding players, it was little surprise the approach was labored and sluggish.

Only Bakary Sako offered any sort of incision, too often fending off the challenges or galloping into space, only to find an absence of available options.

Doyle and Cassidy got the ball quicker as promised, but that usually meant chasing hopeful punts and lost causes.

Still, the appetite had returned and Blackburn were nearly swept away by a wave of enthusiasm and commitment.

But the crippling frailties remain. For all the hurrying and hassling, loose passes and indecision continually invite the opposition in.

From Ikeme’s misplaced pass to Ward’s needless foul and Sako’s lazy hanging leg, Rovers were gifted the initiative.

Huff and puff was eventually rewarded with the much-needed sprinkle of quality Jamie O’Hara’s left boot provided.

Roger Johnson isn’t everyone’s idea of a hero, but that’s the second time this season he’s saved the day, always looking the only likely candidate to connect.

The agricultural point was a deserved one and although the football was often as ugly as a farmer’s wife, Molineux approved.

And for the first time in while, it felt comfortable under foot.

Wolves Vs Blackburn Rovers Preview

You can’t fail to notice the similarities between Wolves and Blackburn, particularly since the end of last season.

Jordan Rhodes

Both relegated from the Premiership. Both failing miserably to come to terms with life in the Championship. Both sacked their Norwegian managers in the last month.

It’s almost funny.

Blackburn have done well since disposing of Henning Berg, winning all three matches under caretaker boss Gary Bowyer.

As I write this, Michael Appleton is in for talks. That would be strange appointment all round. Why they’d want an unproven manager and why he’d push for the move are both baffling questions. If it does go ahead, I’ll wait with interest to hear what they say.

Despite the ongoing pantomime at Ewood Park, they retain a nucleus of good players and in Jordan Rhodes, a striker whose star continues to rise. He has 13 goals to date.

Rovers might be sitting just four points above us, but they’ve lost considerably fewer matches – 8 in total compared to Wolves’ 13. They’ve drawn 7 of their 13 away matches, easily the most in the league.

Wolves

Dean Saunders has been quick to make himself heard since arriving in town on Monday. His approach is in stark contrast to his predecessor but you can’t help be impressed by his feisty, no-nonsense attitude. Recent performances have smacked of ill-discipline and you sense he’ll kick that into touch.

The team he puts out tomorrow will be fascinating. I have no idea what he’ll do, so this is the team I’d put out:

Wolves team for Blackburn

Don’t know if Siggy is back yet and don’t know if O’Hara is fit enough, but we need more attacking intent, particularly at home. We never even looked like scoring against Ipswich.

Saunders has spoken about the importance of working as a team, so it will be interesting to see how he uses a maverick like Sako, if at all. Will others that have been out of favour get a look in?

Predictions

46 of you got the outcome correct against Palace, so it’s an avalanche of PL points for me to update. If less of you could get it right in this one, I’d be appreciative.

Well done to Exeter Wolf, Tettenhall Wolf, Ledbury Lupus, carl wolves, Raydewolf, mick the wolf and johnok who all got the 3-1 scoreline correct and doubled up. A single point for everyone else.

Pick a score, any score for this one.

Blackburn have done well of late, but we’re overdue a decent home performance and I think Saunders will get a response.

2-2.

Up The Wolves.

Blackburn Rovers 0 Wolves 1

The more this intriguing season twists and turns, the more the mind wonders back to another belligerent side we grew to adore.

Take Sak!

As we hung on for a wonderful away day in Blackburn, it was hard not to think of the embryonic outfit Mick McCarthy assembled in 2006.

Unfashionable, uncompromising and unshakable in the very games that most expected us to lose.

After a sobering Crystal Palace home reversal followed by injuries to Peszko, Doyle and Sigurdason, many would have taken a point at Ewood Park today, just like they would have six years ago in a game at Leeds United.

In equally emphatic style on the other side of the Pennines this time, Bakary Sako was imitating Jay Bothroyd with an absolute belter late in the game to seal three points that no team will work harder for this weekend.

As unpredictable as he is unstoppable, the Frenchman’s cult status grows at a speed proportionate to his Exocet that snorted past Danny Murphy’s nose.

We all know where our 2006 vintage finished come 46 games and with Solbakken working with this battle scarred squad – beset by injuries at that – we’d surely grab a fifth placed finish again if offered it now?

If we can eek out results like this until Christmas and give Stale some meaningful cash to spend in January, then maybe we can aim higher still?

Ewood Panorama

With our Norwegian leader bereft of all but two of his summer signings today, every ounce of his nous was needed to record an away triumph, not to mention a clean sheet with a defence so porous before his arrival.

We appeared to be the side doing all the pressing in the first half and were thoroughly good value for the 0-0 half time score.

Had Ebanks-Blake not headed against a post from six yards when unmarked, it could have been even better.

The second half bore the hallmarks of a home side being scolded for not grabbing the game by the scruff of the neck.

Time and again Rovers pressed, only for Johnson and Berra to repel the bombardment with braveheart defiance.

And just when we were being pushed to the point of breaking point, an overhit back pass presented us with an unlikely corner.

When it eventually fell to the royal boot of our Saint Etienne hero, a Skud was dispatched to seal our 17th, 18th and 19th points of the season.

That’s four more than 2006 if memory serves.

Player ratings

Our new signing David Warrington, who hasn’t missed a single Wolves game since 1995 is now offering weekly player ratings from each game (out of 10), starting with our glorious Ewood Park victory, so over to Dave:

Carl Ikeme 7
What he did he did well, no saves to make so that means a seven.

Richard Stearman 7
Injury summed up game – committed and brave. Subbed.

Stephen Ward 7
Steady performance. Calm.

Christophe Berra 9
Man of the Match! Loved his tussle with Rhodes, flawless game.

Roger Johnson 8
Just pipped by Berra. Huge game, won everything.

Kevin Foley 7
Played in 3 positions and assured in each one (R/B, R/M and C/M).

Karl Henry 7
So important to us. Kasim-Richards got him booked after shoving him in face!

Tongo Doumbia 7
Looks to be carrying a knock but good. Played more advanced role.

David Davis 7
Good first half but faded.

Bakary Sako 7
His goal was brilliant, worth an 8 alone, but going on his general play.

Sylvan Ebanks Blake 7
Should have scored in first half but worked his socks off alone.

SUBS:

Anthony Forde 6
Could have scored twice, should have squared to Zubar to win 2-0.

Ronald Zubar 5
Kept giving the ball away. Shadow of old Zubar

Danny Batth
Protected back 4 when coming on, couple of good clearances. No mark as only on a couple of mins.

Blackburn Rovers Vs Wolves Preview

As timing goes, Wolves probably couldn’t have picked a worse moment to visit Ewood Park.

Stalemate at the City Ground

With Steve Kean (finally) heading through the exit door last week, it’s estimated an extra 2,000 home supporters will pack the stands.

That sort of positive energy is sure to have an influence on the Blackburn players, so it’s a big test for Wolves.

Level with us on points and goal difference, Rovers too will feel reasonably satisfied with their start to the season, even if things have gone a little sour in recent weeks.

Jordan Rhodes is the name on the tip of everyone’s tongue this season and he’s continued to find the net regularly since moving from Huddersfield for big money. Nullifying his threat will be key.

In Danny Murphy, Scott Dann and Paul Robinson, the spine of their team remains experienced and strong, particularly at this level. They named David Dunn and Morten Gamst Pederson amongst their substitutes in last night’s nil nil draw with Forest. Not many Championship sides can boast that sort of depth.

Wolves

As always seems to be the case, when a winning run comes to an end for Wolves it comes at great expense. Losing Peszko for over a month is a huge blow, particularly with Razak Boukari and Stephen Hunt also out.

How Ståle attempts to address this problem on Saturday will be very interesting indeed. This would be the team I’d hope to see from the players available:

OK, so not the most imaginative of solutions slotting Dave Edwards in down the right, but we’re not blessed with options.

He’s played there before many times and away from home he can certainly do a good job. We know he gets up and down the pitch well and in tandem with Foley, I’d feel reasonably secure.

I think this game will ultimately come down to how well Wolves can defend. I’m fairly certain we’ll score, but I expect them to give our back four a thorough examination.

Henry and Doumbia as always will be central to our fortunes. I didn’t think they influenced Tuesday’s match in the same way they have done in recent weeks. Hoping for better on Saturday.

Opposition view

Thanks to my good friend and Blackburn fan James Tomlinson, for providing the following:

We face Wolves on Saturday with a resurgent sense of belief, the first home game without Steve Kean in charge is sure to bring some of the Rovers faithful back through the Ewood Park gates. With the exception of the manager situation there should be no cause for complaint, we are sitting in the play-offs and have had some decent results. OK we’ve had to claw back to get them but that shows fighting spirit, when we get the ball on the floor and out wide we look good and can create a host of chances.

Wolves are a tough team, having won their last four league matches before the home defeat to Crystal Palace, they are also right in the mix and I expect them to be all the way through this season. They have installed a solid manager and he’s getting them playing decent football. My only worry for us is the defence, it’s our weakest point, loss of concentration and any opposition player with pace and we are in trouble. We have a decent strike pairing in Rhodes and Gomes and given half a chance they will find the net no problems.

The atmosphere is going to be key to this game, no Kean should bring a lot of noise and the team will feed off that, so I am expecting a tough game but we’ll take three points.

Verdict 2-1 Rovers!

Predictions

Slim pickings for Prediction League points after the defeat to Palace. Most people, including me, backed us for the win.

4 people said we’d lose though and 3 of them got the correct scoreline. So well done to carl wolves, Haywood wolf and Robertsbridgewolf for doubling up. Ash K takes a single.

Apologies to Timberwolf who said we’d either lose 2-1 or draw. Unfortunately, making two predictions does make your entry null and void. Sorry matey, but I have to be fair.

This weekend, I think we’ll get edged out.

It’s bad timing for us in terms of injuries and coming off the back of a defeat to Palace. They’ll be up for it in front of a bigger crowd too.

2-1 Rovers. Hope I’m wrong.

Up The Wolves.