Fulham 1 Wolves 3

What a difference two weeks can make.

It wasn’t so long ago we were heading into fixtures against Ipswich and Rotherham with little (if any) confidence about our prospects.

Now, after two excellent performances against talented opposition, the urge to look up the table rather than over our shoulders is beginning to return.

Paul Lambert deserves credit for masterminding this turnaround in form, though the measures he’s taken to achieve it are fairly simplistic.

When you field your best attacking players and play others in their correct position, a positive outcome is more likely to be received than if you’d done otherwise.

Take the reigns off this Wolves team and they’re a match for any team in this division.

Fulham (an excellent side, by the way) were cut open with regularity yesterday, particularly down the flanks where Helder Costa and Ivan Cavaleiro were back to their diminutive best.

It’s taken this writer some time to warm to the latter but we’re undoubtedly a better side with him than we are without.

That’s an assertion Costa is sure to agree with, given that he seems to benefit from Cavaleiro’s presence more than any other player.

With two buccaneering wingers to focus on (not to mention Ben Marshall and Andi Weimann), teams can’t afford to double up on Costa the way they were a few weeks back.

That gives him the freedom to run at teams and, as Fulham’s full backs found out yesterday, damage them.

If we can keep both players fit and focused over the summer then next season could be mightily enjoyable, providing the spine of the team is also improved.

Given the mooted interest in Costa from a number of Premier League sides, that could prove a difficult ask.

For now though, let’s savour this most satisfying of weeks and hope that it’s the beginning of a strong end to the season.

Fulham Vs Wolves Preview

I do think Wolves have better players than every other team in the bottom half of the league.

But putting it all together on a semi-consistent basis has been a big problem all season.

We’ve also got too many players of very similar ability levels who bring different things to the table, which is why managers keep tinkering trying to find the right combination.

Assuming we do stay up, the decks need to be swept over the summer. Shedding six or seven players is as important as adding the three or four we obviously need.

Until then, I can’t foresee us consistently picking up results with our mix and match lineups.

Fulham

I had one eye on the Fulham Blackburn game while Wolves were turning things around at Griffin Park.

They twice took the lead and had most of the ball as you might imagine, but Blackburn gave as good as they got in the second half and deserved their point.

Wolves have to do exactly what they did against Brentford and stop Fulham getting into their passing rhythm.

They’ve really gathered momentum over the last 10 games and if they’d held on against Blackburn they’d be in the top six.

I thought they looked really good at Molineux in that 4-4 draw, but they’re definitely still vulnerable at the back.

They’ve got where they are with decent form home and away so Craven Cottage is by no means a fortress. We should have a chance.

Wolves

It’s another case of stick or twist for Paul Lambert. Does he persevere with the starting lineup that did well at Brentford but couldn’t break through or bring in some of the players who helped turn it around?

I don’t really mind either way, but we’ve got to try and get something like a settled side for the final run-in.

And the above line up isn’t too bad when you’ve got the likes of Marshall and Cavaleiro in reserve to introduce as we did in midweek.

Also worth remembering that the above eleven did the business at Anfield (with just one change) too so they have some pedigree.

Paul Lambert

Predictions

It would be great to get a result here ahead of the international break. We’d then be heading into two winnable homes games with real confidence.

Can’t see us keeping Fulham out but if Lambert can extract another high intensity performance from the group, we should be able to inflict some damage ourselves.

I’ll go for half of what we saw at Molineux in December – 2-2.

Up The Wolves!

Brentford 1 Wolves 2

Performance and result – finally.

We’ve had both in recent weeks but not together since winning at Barnsley at the back end of January.

The latter remains the most important of course, but the former was a stark reminder about what this group of players can produce when they all turn up.

Paul Lambert’s more balanced team selection helped, returning to the side that secured victory at Anfield save for Danny Batth replacing Richard Stearman.

But this wasn’t a backs-to-the-wall defensive masterclass. It was Wolves on the front foot attacking throughout. 24 shots on goal in total, which must be a season high.

Perhaps the only worrying aspect of the night is that despite controlling much of the play, we came within five minutes of losing.

In fairness, Brentford’s goal was well-worked and ruthlessly dispatched. But Wolves should have been ahead long before and level much sooner.

That familiar wastefulness in the final third oh so nearly cost us again, with Nouha Dicko and George Saville the main culprits after some excellent build up play.

But credit Wolves and the manager who continued to throw everything at Brentford until they eventually buckled under the onslaught.

Ben Marshall’s influence in the last two games has been clear. Two pivotal assists, one on Saturday for Andi Weimann to profit and last night the teasing ball that allowed Matt Doherty to crash home the equaliser.

That’s what we’ve desperately lacking of late, our key match winning players making those killer final passes for others to latch onto.

Once Marshall and Cavaleiro were on, it also freed up Helder Costa to ghost in and thunder home the winning goal.

I’ve been critical of our star man of late, but only because he seemed to be operating on the periphery. Last night he stepped back in and looked up for the scrap.

You could see his visible frustration as team mates squandered chance after chance and then the release after netting the winner.

We need more of that in the remaining games, not just from Costa but everyone else.

The standard has been set.

* Check out all this weekend’s Premier League predictions and enhanced odds over at this website.

Brentford Vs Wolves Preview

Perhaps I’ve been a little hypocritical.

I’ve been banging on for weeks about the need to collect scrappy points and we’ve done that in the last two matches.

But I don’t feel my comments on Saturday were unjust. Rotherham were incredibly bad and yet Wolves were lucky to beat them.

Now we’re off to Griffin Park where we’ve been skinned alive on our last two visits hoping for something much better.

It’s a difficult fixture, but it’s one of our games in hand and yet another chance to create breathing space. We need a big performance and the result to go with it.

Brentford

Brentford logoFrom the outside looking in, it seems like a bit of a nothing mid-table season for the Bees. Not that we have any right to turn our noses up at such luxuries.

And for a club that have spent many years in League One and lower, they’re probably not too unhappy about being considered a solid Championship outfit.

Losing Scott Hogan late on in the January transfer window was probably a bit of a blow to their immediate aspirations, but that money could help them improve next season.

Their home form has been decent, but not overly intimidating thus far with 7 wins, 5 draws and 5 defeats.

Rajiv van La Parra scored the winner for Huddersfield on Saturday and they won’t fancy losing two at home on the spin.

Added to that I get the genuine sense that Dean Smith hates Wolves, so they’ll probably be running around like feral dogs desperate to heap more misery on our already horrible season.

Wolves

I get that Paul Lambert wants to send out players that are going to scrap for every point, but I think he should be showing a bit more adventure.

I might be the only one, but I really feel like Helder Costa has checked out. You can’t ask players with limited ability to be better, but you can ask players with ability to try harder.

For the moment, I’d give Cavaleiro a go down the left and keep Marshall down the right.

Weimann has a goal a game record as a central striker so must start. Maybe playing alongside Dicko with Edwards making way in midfield?

And of course, I’m not fan of midfielders at full-back, so I’d change that too, but not holding my breath on that one.

Predictions

I don’t like the look of this fixture so would be happy with another ugly draw. Even that would take us a point and a position further away from danger.

That said Fulham on Saturday looks even worse, so perhaps we should be going all in on this one trying to get a win?

1-1.

Up The Wolves!

Wolves 1 Rotherham United 0

We won.

That’s the only positive.

Honestly.

I can’t think of anything else good to say about any individual player or the collective performance.

What was Paul Lambert thinking?

He somehow managed to pick the most defensive starting eleven anyone could possibly muster that still appeared to be wide open at the back.

Rotherham should have been two goals clear before Helder Costa wasted a penalty and Andi Weimann’s determination secured the ill-gotten points.

So limp were our attacking efforts throughout against a team who statistically can’t defend – averaging just under three goals conceded per game away from home – the contest was still up for grabs in the dying seconds when their center half mercifully shanked one over from right under the crossbar.

Pathetic.

The result is of course crucial but it doesn’t justify the performance.

And the performance was a reflection of the ridiculous team selection – the blame for which lies squarely at one man’s feet.

To play two defensive midfielders at full back was ridiculous. They offered nothing going in either direction.

Matt Doherty has been one of our most consistent performers for two seasons and is arguably one of the best attacking full-backs in the league. Leaving him out at home, when we need to sort out the whipping boys is madness.

And where exactly was Dave Edwards supposed to be playing? He offered little to no support to Weimann and barely got a foot on the ball all game.

Surely if you’re going to play two holding midfielders, there has to be one attacking midfielder ahead of them?

I just don’t get it. What was the plan?

Of the three genuine attacking players we fielded, Marshall tried and showed moments of ability, Weimann did what he could from laughably little service and Costa continues to sit on his deckchair.

I’m sorry, if we’re going to lambast the workhorses for a lack of ability our £12 million winger needs a rocket up his rear end for the dross he’s been turning out lately.

Against Wigan, Blues and today again he was totally anonymous. And don’t tell me he was marked out of the game or surrounded because he wasn’t. It’s just not acceptable.

The biggest travesty of all though is that people will focus on the boos that deservedly accompanied the full time whistle when in fact the support was tremendous throughout considering what was served up.

It’s the crowd that deserve better.

Sort it out Wolves.

Wolves Vs Rotherham United Preview

We have to win this game.

That means starting fast, getting on the front foot early, getting ahead and seeing it through with confidence.

Our League One bound opponents need to feel smothered from the first minute, completely inferior, given no hope and ruthlessly dispatched.

This and only this will give Molineux confidence we’re not going to slip down to the third tier again ourselves.

Failing that, a scrappy one nil will do.

Rotherham

Rotherham are bad, I mean really bad. Think how awful our season has been and we’ve more than doubled their points tally.

81 goals conceded already, which is at least 30 more than anyone else with a half decent defence. Wolves have only let in 46.

They’re hardly rattling them in at the other end either. 32 goals scored makes them the second limpest attack in the division with only Wigan (31) worse off.

Their away record reads played 18, drawn 1, lost 17, scored 12, conceded 52. Nothing else needs to be said.

After Alan Stubbs was sacked and Kenny Jackett decided he didn’t fancy it after just a few weeks in charge, Paul Warne has the unenviable job of seeing out the season.

Wolves

Paul Lambert took some abuse for his team selection on Tuesday, but collecting that point, which could easily have been three, was important to stop the slide. But now he has to go for it.

I commented on the previous thread that I feel much of our problem stems from the fact we don’t get enough match winners onto the pitch.

Costa, Cavaleiro and Enobakhare all have the individual talent to win us this game and should all start. I’ve gone for Price and Saiss holding but either could easily be replaced by Edwards to give us more thrust.

I’d play two attacking full backs, moving Marshall back there if he’s coming into form and bring Williamson straight back into the fold.

You can’t say for definite that any team would win, but I do know the above eleven would create a lot of chances against a team who seemingly can’t defend.

Paul Lambert

Predictions

3-1 Wolves.

It’s one of those matches where I can’t bear the thought of not winning so I’m shutting my eyes and hoping for the best.

I hope Paul Lambert is brave in his team selection and picks an attacking lineup. If we try to make the game tight and cagey, I think that’s playing more into their hands.

We’ve got the creative, attacking players at our disposal to really go after Rotherham so I hope he is wise enough to use them.

Up The Wolves!