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.