Wolves 3 Brentford 0

As the turkey leftovers are scraped into the slop bucket and the tired tinsel sags on the tree, trust Wolves to stay in the festive spirit as we all trudge back to work.

We don’t have to wish it’s Christmas every day, but just rock up at Molineux to see these golden greats in action and study the league table every day thereafter. (Then scroll through twitter to read that a Valencia striker could be putting pen to paper.)

There have been some mightily impressive wins in this relentless charge through the Championship, but this 3-0 scalp over a top Brentford side might just be the best of the lot. Ok, so it didn’t involve an orgasmic last gasp goal, but the Bees looked every inch a team with 33pts from their last 17 games, while we had every right to feel a little jaded after our Ashton Gate glory.

At half time, a point wouldn’t have been a bad return at all as the away side threatened to pass us into submission, even if we did create all the chances in a curious game to call. Ten points ahead of Derby and 12 clear of third wouldn’t sound so bad under the circumstances, would it?

Evidently it did to Nuno, who got the players in at half time and sent them back out to play in the style we’ve become accustomed. Brentford’s high press was suddenly nullified through a more carefree approach and Cavaleiro was again the game changer when he came on for Costa.

Before Brentford boss Dean Smith could blink, they were 2-0 down after two moments of unadulterated beauty. In any other season they’d have been goal of the month – if not season – contenders. But as we’re spoilt rotten with such jaw dropping quality, they tussle each other for best goal of the game award.

The away side, preparing for the wand of Douglas, were fooled when Neves stepped up for a free kick instead, whipping the ball into the roof of the South Bank net. If the left one doesn’t get you, the right one will.

Within what felt seconds it was game over. Cavaleiro, dancing round defenders, cutting this way and that before pulling a tantalising ball across the box for the onrushing Douglas. In a throwback to Mark Kennedy’s strike in that Newcastle FA Cup game of yesteryear, time stood still as the Scot strode towards the ball…and arced it high into the top corner in a moment of dizzying bliss.

It was two ruthless passages of play to underline why we’re now 12pts ahead of Derby and 14 clear of third. A clinical, cold kill on an unsuspecting opponent who were at their most vulnerable when they were feeling comfortable.

From there on, we kept the ball particularly well, used our width and won the ball back with aplomb when the Bees were beginning to swarm, as typified by Romain Saiss once more. Ruddy, a spectator behind the unflustered Boly, Coady and Bennett.

To add gloss to the scoreline, Diogo Jota bagged a late third whilst lying flat on his back and enjoyed a standing ovation when replaced.

The full time whistle felt like another belated Christmas present, as did the sight of the league table on every television screen in the concourse on the way home, where those Christmas decorations can stay where they are.

Wolves Vs Brentford Preview

This season has been dreamy.

And every time it looks like we might get that sobering slap around the chops, someone produces a moment to elevate us to new realms of ecstasy.

Even if the opposition can nullify the more obvious danger posed by Jota and Cavaleiro, you’ve still got a dead ball specialist, two holding midfielders who can shoot from distance and a giant who can win headers in both boxes to overcome.

Factor in an unparalleled team spirit and a relentless desire to win and you start to understand the scope of the challenge.

In short, you’ve got to play very well to beat Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Brentford

Brentford logoDean Smith’s side present a unique challenge. It probably sounds condescending to call them diet-Wolves but there are definite similarities.

Like their opponents they’ve cast the net further than the British Isles to compile the majority of their playing staff and have also developed a clear way of playing.

Despite being bottom when they played out a goalless draw with Wolves earlier in the season, it was obvious to everyone that was a false position.

With only 2 defeats in their last 18 matches, they’re now up to 10th and victory tomorrow will put them just 3 points below the top six.

I fancy them to get close to the play-offs come May and am looking forward to seeing how they approach this game.

Wolves

Danny Batth’s suspension was upheld, but that makes little difference to Nuno. I would have expected Bennett to play either way.

Cavaleiro should be restored to the side after he turned the game against Bristol City. It’s then just a straight choice between Costa and Bonatini for the other slot.

Save for one promising break, Costa again looked off the pace and uninterested at Ashton Gate. Bonatini has also looked leggy of late.

That one will likely come down to what qualities Nuno feels are required to overcome this Brentford side.

Betting

No surprise to see that Wolves are red hot favourites to win this one at 8/11 with PaddyPower. Brentford are 7/2. For tips on how to get the best returns check Bet and Skill who offer daily tips on all the games taking place and where you can get the most generous odds.

Predictions

There’s no reason to believe Wolves won’t win this game.

I think Brentford are a dangerous side, but then again, so were Bristol City and so were Ipswich and so were many other opponents this impressive team have already brushed aside.

Assuming no hangover from Bristol City or moments of madness, we’ll probably win.

3-1.

Happy New Year & UTW!

Brentford 0 Wolves 0

A stalemate against the league’s bottom side isn’t traditionally a cause for optimism.

But I agree with Nuno’s assessment that Brentford are in a false position, so in time this result will likely be viewed as a decent one.

Zooming out a bit, 10 points from 5 games is a solid return with that magical 2 point per game average usually good enough for automatic promotion.

When we reconvene after the international break, back to back home matches should provide a good opportunity to return to winning ways.

What we learned from Saturday is something we probably knew already – we need more cutting edge.

Chances were created and squandered at Griffin Park with Bonatini among the culprits. That elusive striker can’t arrive soon enough.

I still think the Brazilian has a lot to offer, but equally I don’t think asking him to lead the line for 46 matches will get it done. With Nouha Dikco seemingly set for an exit, reinforcements are needed more than ever.

Other than the lack of goals this was a decent enough performance and although the woodwork and John Ruddy were both tested, it’s another cleansheet. That’s 3 shutouts in 5 matches, which again is cause for optimism.

The coach kept faith with the team that had done the business prior to Cardiff, with only Ruben Vinagre breaking through.

And the flying wing-back was at the center of everything as Wolves tried to breakthrough. He also stood up to some serious examination in his own defensive third.

I like the player and with Barry Douglas unlikely to give up his spot without a fight, we’re well stocked for the position.

The focus now becomes beefing up the areas of the pitch where we’re not so well equipped before the transfer window closes.

With Dave Edwards departing hot on the heels of Joe Mason and Dicko also on the verge, at least one midfielder and preferably two strikers must be on the shopping list.

The club have done an excellent job thus far in reducing numbers, while adding the right quality and a few more key additions in the next week will complete the picture.

Busy days ahead.

Brentford Vs Wolves Preview

Victory at Griffin Park was the catalyst for survival last season. This time, our aspirations are greater.

It was good to bounce back in the cup, but even more important for rectifying last weekend’s defeat is putting some more points on the board.

That should be an achievable goal given that our next two fixtures are against the two teams currently sitting in 24th and 23rd position.

Yes, it’s early days but both Brentford and Millwall have gone four games without getting a victory and it can’t all be down to bad luck.

Brentford

Brentford logoDean Smith believes his side have been playing well enough to win games and from the bits and pieces I’ve seen of them, he’s probably not wrong.

They play attractive football and have good technicians, but like Wolves they have to earn the right to play their intricate passing game.

Keeping things tight at the back has been a problem and the nine goals they’ve conceded already is the reason they’re at the bottom of the pile.

If they go a considerable way through the season letting in over two goals a game, it’s going to be a long old campaign for the Bees.

But I suspect they’ll come good. They obliterated QPR 4-1 in the cup on Tuesday so that will give them some confidence going into this one.

Wolves

Nuno has some real headaches over team selection for this one after so many did themselves proud at St. Mary’s the other night. I don’t envy his position.

Would I play Vinagre over Douglas? Price over Saiss? Cavaleiro over Bright? Deslandes over Miranda? Honestly, I have no idea.

What I would say is that I don’t want to go back to making three, four, five changes to the team for every single league game so my approach would be evolution over revolution.

You might bring in Cav and maybe one other, but I’d keep the nucleus of the side that has generally performed very well in all the league matches to date.

Predictions

Theoretically, this should be a decent game for Wolves. If both teams want to get the ball down and play and it becomes about who can retain their shape and then find the right passes, you’d back us to win out.

I’m nervous because I think Brentford are due a good result and we’ve put a stonking great target on our chest with our summer transfer business and all the ‘best team in the league‘ plaudits.

But I have confidence in our coach and the group of players, so I’ll back us to get back to winning ways.

2-1.

Up The Wolves!

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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!