Blackburn Rovers 0 Wolves 1

With all this gale force weather whipping up one or two headlines in recent days, there’s been little mention of lightning striking in the same place twice in the past 24 hours.

Edwards Blackburn

For us fans of a gold and black persuasion, changeable conditions have been something of the norm in recent times but in beating Blackburn Rovers 1-0 at Ewood Park, a bolt from the heavens flashed through my mind.

Roughly a year ago Wolves suffered a mid-season blip with just one win in seven – including that TV shocker at Gillingham – as one or two clouds threatened a downpour.

Enter Nouha Dicko in the window, a manager settled on his best side and we responded with nine straight wins and a League One title cakewalk.

Sure, few can realistically expect similar silverware come May, but roll the clock forward from then and the similarities are striking.

A recent run of five straight miserable defeats has been followed with 13 points from a possible 15 and the impending arrival of another jet-heeled forward in the window, this time Benik Afobe.

The sun has certainly got his hat on after this impressive scalp in Lancashire and the outlook can only be a good one as Kenny Jackett appears to at last settle on his preferred starting XI.

Where our team lacked cohesion in November, we now boast partnerships all over the pitch, as McDonald is reunited with Price, Stearman with Batth and Dicko with Sako, before the latter departed for Mali duty.

And in Kortney Hause and Dominic Iorfa, we have been supplemented with two of the most exciting young break-through acts since the class of Keane and co.

So good are they of late that Matt Doherty and Scott Golbourne would not get a look in today, whether 100% fit or not.

David Edwards’ winner in our third successive away triumph was testament to our wonderful new full-backs and that rock solid partnership between them.

Where we were once porous we are now resolute and despite Sako departing for Africa we still boast enough pace and guile to attack with menace when the time arrives.

In this case, it was just after half-time when Edwards ran from deep to collect a Dicko pass and smash a low shot into the net.

The floodgates really should have opened after that, with Batth missing a great chance with his head, Dicko smashing against the bar and van La Parra squandering his now obligatory open goal opportunity.

As one work European colleague succinctly told me and my UK colleagues the other week:

‘In England, you say if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it.

‘In Europe we say if it isn’t broke, then let’s keep looking to make improvements regardless.’

If one criticism can be made of Kenny Jackett this season, it’s that he did neither up until now.

George Saville and Tommy Rowe offered no advancement on the Price / McDonald partnership that previously blossomed, likewise the preference for Ebanks-Landell over Stearman.

The blue skies that now appear on the horizon after yesterday’s marvellous win suggests these improvements are bona fide.

So what for a forecast from now until May?

Now a mini-storm has passed, the prospects for warmer temperatures around Molineux are looking good!

The gaffer

Blackburn Rovers Vs Wolves Preview

I thought the win over Blackburn back in August was Wolves’ best performance of the season.

Blackburn Wolves

It needed to be too because Rovers were mightily impressive themselves and could easily have taken something from a pulsating second half.

There didn’t seem to be much between the sides then and looking at the table now, it’s clear that assessment was accurate.

Hopefully this odd Sunday afternoon kick-off can live up to the previous meeting. Our record at Ewood Park is good in recent times.

Blackburn

Blackburn-Rovers-iconGary Bowyer appeared to have discovered the type of consistency that for a couple of seasons has prevented his side from becoming a mainstay of the top six. But then they stuttered.

Blackburn have won just once in their last six, losing three in the process and slipping out of the play-off places and down to ninth (two points behind Wolves).

They’ve had some tricky fixtures in that run though, playing Middlesbrough twice (without losing), Brentford and a resurgent Bolton side.

Rudy Gestede, who missed the game at Molineux, is their 12 goal top scorer, eclipsing the evergreen Jordan Rhodes. I also like the look of wingers Ben Marshall and Craig Conway.

Wolves

It’s nice to have a little five game undefeated run (including the cup draw at Fulham) after losing every game in November. But this will be a tough test, particularly without Bakary Sako.

Wolves team for Blackburn

Hopefully Nouha Dicko is fit and firing as without him the team takes on a more unflattering complexion. Without Sako, his pace and trickery is even more important.

The team probably picks itself and I’ll be surprised, barring injury, if that’s not the eleven that plays.

Doherty, Evans and Clarke all got a game last weekend because of suspensions and injury, but I’m not sure any did enough to stake a claim.

The gaffer

Predictions

With Blackpool and Charlton at home to follow, a draw wouldn’t be a bad result from this game. A seven point return from the three matches would be excellent.

Hopefully if Blackburn play Gestede and Rhodes up front, Wolves can make use of an extra man in midfield and dominate the ball, whilst containing two very good forwards.

That’s the best case scenario of course. As eluded too higher up, I don’t think there’s much to choose in terms of quality, so I’ll sit on the fence with a draw.

1-1

Up The Wolves

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.