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 3 Brentford 1

Convincing? Not so much. But pleasantly reassuring all the same.

Reassuring in the sense that after such an impressive victory against Newcastle last Saturday it was a relief to see the same eleven a) make it onto the pitch and b) follow up with another win against a good Championship outfit.

I thought Zenga might find it impossible not to tinker, but the Italian stuck to the script and was rewarded with a far more cohesive showing than we saw against Burton or Barnsley.

That said, Brentford weren’t really pulling up any trees themselves until they went 2-0 down and started turning the screw in search of a way back.

Wolves had grown into the game as a bitty first half progressed and it was great to see them shift up a gear after the break and take charge of proceedings.

Joao Teixeira looked the most likely route to goal throughout, so it was no surprise to see him latching onto Helder Costa’s pass before confidently turning inside and stabbing home.

His second was one of those free kicks that’s both a cross and a shot if bodies run across the ball. Some people call them lucky but if you put the ball in the right area with pace, you deserve that reward.

He might have had a penalty in the first half too, but despite being sat right in front of it, I still can’t decide whether he dived or was pushed. Either way, the twisting run that preceded it was mesmerising.

On days like this where he chips in with a few goals, it’s hard to believe there’s a more effective playmaker than the young Portuguese man knocking around in the second tier.

Physically, there’s still a major question mark of course and the same can probably be said of Costa and certainly of Cavaleiro. But all three suggested they might be finding their feet with telling contributions when it mattered today.

One person you can’t accuse of shirking a scrap is Jon Dadi Bodvarsson. He is our talisman and the linchpin around which the whole team functions. Without him, forget about it.

I break out in a cold sweat every time he hits the deck thinking our season is about to vanish in a puff of smoke. But up he pops, ready to batter his way through another challenge.

Brentford tried everything imaginable to stop him today but the big Icelander eventually won the day, busting through late on and teeing up Cavaleiro to hammer in the final nail.

Had we not scored that goal it wasn’t difficult to envisage more late heartbreak in front of the North Bank as the Bees buzzed around our penalty area and repeatedly occupied uncomfortable positions.

But Wolves did enough, just enough, to get it done.

And with this team developing and hopefully growing stronger with each passing week, that’s all we can ask.

Wolves Vs Brentford Preview

Excitement or trepidation?

Probably both.

That’s just how it feels supporting this Wolves team. You might argue it’s always been that way, but even more so this season.

Hopes were built up prior to Burton and Barnsley with the bubble obliterated before being patched up and re-inflated at St. James’ Park.

Losing in the cup was a bit of a pill but our league aspirations will be well and truly back on track if we can overcome Brentford.

Brentford

Brentford logoEven though we beat them on our way to winning League One and scored a narrow home victory the following season in the Championship, Brentford feel like a bogey team.

They’ve twice thrashed us on their own patch and won comfortably at Molineux last time out. I suspect this season won’t be any easier.

Scott Hogan is the league’s form striker with 6 goals already, including a hat-trick against Preston last Saturday.

At the other end of the pitch, their defence boast the best defensive record in the league having conceded just 5 in 8 matches.

And of course you know Dean Smith – born in West Bromwich with a 10 year Walsall association – will be well up for this one.

Wolves

With Ola John and Silvio back pushing for places and Nouha Dicko not far behind, selection headaches are piling up for Mr. Zenga. But this should be relatively straightforward no?

team-for-brentford

The same team that beat Newcastle, or something very close to it, will surely start tomorrow.

I’ll never stick my house on anything with Zenga, but that eleven must be at the forefront of his thoughts.

There was an insinuation that Bortwick-Jackson was caught out for Matt Ritchie’s opener in midweek, so that could open the door for the likes of Silvio, Hause or Stearman.

Ivan Cavaleiro didn’t feature at all in midweek after only getting a late cameo in the league game and considering his price tag, I’d expect him to also be involved at some point too.

Predictions

Went for a defeat in the league and a win in the cup against Newcastle so what the hell do I know?

I do know Brentford are looking like a well oiled machine. I also know Wolves are backed to win and expectation levels are sky high, which is normally ideal conditions for a swift kick in the goolies.

So I’ll hop back onto the fence and say 2-2.

Up The Wolves!

Save

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Brentford 3 Wolves 0

Christmas is long gone.

Wolves players at Brentford

But enduring this torrid campaign is akin to opening a sick advent calendar.

Each passing disappointment brings us closer to the fabled day of 7th May 2016 when, barring a remarkable end to the season from one of the division’s bottom three teams, we will conclude the campaign in the middle or lower echelons of the table.

Having keenly followed coverage of the game on Twitter, I feel confident in concluding that tonight was one of our most abhorrent performances of the season.

Brentford sliced through our midfield at will and exposed the season long frailties of our back four.

Carl Ikeme has been far from faultless this term but it’s hard not to have sympathy for our beleaguered goalkeeper. Irrespective of what defensive combination has been put in front of him, he’s been left woefully unprotected.

But let’s face it, our problems don’t end with the back four.

Our midfield, though admittedly deprived of key players, is desperately short on character and thus incapable of being combative against skilled opposition.

We’ve been clamouring for the reintroduction of Kevin McDonald since his surprise demotion against Preston but he made little impact in tonight’s game.

Whether that’s due to the quality of the players around him (or lack thereof) or a decline in his influence on the team is a moot point for debate but, irrespective of what side of the fence you sit on, our deficiencies are clear for all to see.

As for our strikers, it’s unfair to criticise their current output considering the fact that none of them, Joe Mason aside, were intended to be regulars at the beginning of the season.

Let it not be forgotten that Bjorn Sigurdarson, for all the endeavour he has been shown, had spent the two years prior to January 2016 out on loan at clubs situated well away from Wolverhampton.

The fact that we are expected to believe spells at Molde and Copenhagen that yielded a cumulative total of four goals have made him any better a player than the one who couldn’t get a sniff at League One level is indicative of the presumed stupidity we have been treated with all season.

If no serious rethink of strategy is  forthcoming in the summer I fear we’ll be spending next season battling a return to the division from where our embattled manager found us.

Ben bites

Ben returns with an editorial on the destruction of a once great team.

‘Some of them don’t look as like they want to play.’

Batth Brentford

There spoke former Wolves hero Steve Daley, who could never be accused as such, nor his heroic teammates from a glorious old gold era, which will soon be a lifetime ago.

Whatever happened to all the heroes?

All the Shakespearoes? We’re watching Rome burn.

Two years and a day ago we won 3-0 at Griffin Park to end their 19 game unbeaten run in League One.

Michael Jacobs dazzled, Sako and Dicko mesmerised and our back four consisted of Golbourne, Batth, Stearman and Ricketts.

Today’s bastardised team is a pathetic, pale imitation, which will go on a 19 game run of their own at this rate – without winning a single game.

The parts of this team are inferior, the sum of them is collectively clueless and all the while, our once splendid manager looks on with his hands in his pockets.

And now, a much loved player from yesteryear who once commanded an English record £1.4m transfer fee is genuinely unsure if they give a toss.

Jackett at least picked a team more in line with what many have been crying out for in recent times, with Nathan Byrne making a rare start on the opposite side to van La Parra, who can console himself in the knowledge that he will be getting paid.

But whatever the permutations on paper, the end result is horribly familiar.

In the good old days we’d keep the ball irrespective of personnel. Whoever Jackett shuffles from one week to the next, the team surrender possession quicker than Dean Saunders lost his marbles.

So regressive is this brand of football and so completely alien is it to Jackett’s original principles that you wonder if they’re doing it deliberately.

However much Jez Moxey tells us to count our blessings (he did effectively say this at the Fans’ Parliament – the notes of which to follow), this feels so depressing that I can barely summon the words anymore.

No more inclination. No more heroes.

Brentford Vs Wolves Preview

Something good to say, something good to say, hmm…

Brentford Burnely

Well, none of the bottom four won on Saturday, so the gap between Wolves and the relegation zone remains 14 points with another game ticked off the list.

I think that has to be considered a positive.

We were relegated with 51 points in 2013 and although that was a ridiculously high total to drop with, I’ll still feel better when we’ve surpassed a half century this term.

Looking at what’s left, this could be one of the better fixtures for us.

Brentford

Brentford logoThe Bees are a club in transition and like Wolves, that’s partly of their own volition. After what was another highly successful season last time out, they cleared the decks and started again.

The manager went, their biggest names departed and the chairman’s experimental ideas continued unabated.

I’m watching with interest to see how Dean Smith gets on. He seemed to be picking up where Lee Carsley left off in his short and sweet tenure in charge, which saw Brentford climb the table.

But things have gone tits up lately, with three heavy defeats on the bounce and just two wins in ten, which has curtailed any play-off hopes.

They’ll see this as an opportunity to steady the ship, and I’m sure the former Walsall boss would love to get one over a former local adversary.

Wolves

It’s team selection roulette again for Kenny Jackett after another eleven were on the wrong side of the scoreline at Huddersfield. This would be my starting lineup:

Team for Brentford

We’ve tried all out defence, so why not have a crack at all out attack? Play two out and out wingers, play two forwards and play your most technically gifted midfield duo.

Although I was steadfast in defending the head coach at the weekend, the one thing I can’t argue with is the disappointment that he appears to have abandoned the passing principles that have made his Wolves teams successful.

Given our current plight the performance should enter the equation. Results are going to be patchy so lets at least see some decent football.

The gaffer

Predictions

We’ll most likely lose, but I’ll back us to get a point as I don’t fancy coming into the Derby game on Saturday on the back of three straight defeats.

In the above video, Kenny seemed impressed with what his team did off the ball at Huddersfield, which I suppose is a part of the game most supporters neglect to assess.

He’ll likely keep faith with a narrower midfield to accommodate his two forwards and I hope for his sake it delivers a result, because he could do with one.

1-1

Up The Wolves!