Wolves 0 Brighton & Hove Albion 2

At least the ‘supporter experience’ away from the pitch is slowly changing for the better, with a master-blaster missile launcher sending T-shirts high into the stands for fans to clamber over empty seats for.

Meanwhile, a couple of wolves (or huskies of some description) were paraded as the teams entered the pitch, in a precursor for the intimidating levels of menace that would surely follow.

The seagulls, supposedly crushed under their ravenous jaws as our bloodthirsty pack runs wild at Molineux.

Sadly, the script went to pot as soon as our eyes were averted from the canines and across to Steve Sidwell and Dale Stephens in the middle of the park, who made Romain Saiss and Dave Edwards – in particular – look like docile little pugs.

If the t-shirt operator could have just loaded his torpedo with half a dozen white tops for some of these woeful failures to wear instead of their gold shirts, we might not have endured such misery.

As it was, we were easy meat for Brighton, who possess every single virtue that no-amount of football coaches can ever instil into our bunch of hapless losers.

On this point, think on Paul Lambert. They cost Kenny Jackett and Walter Zenga their jobs, and if you don’t make remedial changes to this squad as a matter of absolute urgency, then you’ll be losing yours too.

They are lethal and scary in equal measure, but only in making you wonder how such levels of inconsistency can blight professional footballers of supposed Championship level.

Take Kortney Hause as an example, who has been regularly resolute and occasionally majestic at the back, yet puts in a performance which is quite incomprehensible. To watch him get bounced beneath a high ball for the first goal was the stuff of Brown Westhead Park and typified a performance that cannot be rationalised.

Andy Lonergan’s limp wristed effort to keep out Knockaert’s shot thereafter was pathetic, while his attempt to stop his second was little better.

Then there was Matt Doherty, who has looked so easy-on-the-eye as a converted left back at times this season, but was so bad, and so lacking in the basic prerequisites, that you wonder if it were the same player. His body language certainly suggested that he couldn’t give a toss.

And as for that midfield axis of Dave Edwards and Romain Saiss…

…It was the stuff of nightmares, as the undroppable Welshman consigns the Moroccan to the same scrap heap that Price, Evans, Prince, Saville and co have all been tossed onto, while he continues to blacken a Wolves shirt with no accountability and no-shows like this. Go figure.

To watch Dale Stephens cruise around in second gear – while his mind remained light years ahead of our Welshman’s flailing arms and feeble gesticulations – made it clearer than ever that Wolves will never reach the levels required to challenge for promotion while he is anywhere near the starting XI.

It’s not like we’re hankering after past glories with him either. He was a squad player purchased from Luton Town 10 years ago and has never been entrusted to mount a promotion challenge under McCarthy or Jackett (League One) because he is so painfully limited. (see Henry / Jones and McDonald / Price). Who said nice guys never win?

As the PA system weeped before kick-off: ‘You’ve got to get yourself together, you’ve got stuck in a moment, and now you can’t get out of it.’

We didn’t really need Bono’s reminder, but there was never a truer word said yesterday.

Unless we bring in seven new players – having circumnavigated Financial Fair Play rules which are seemingly applicable to only us – we’ll be stuck in the same moment alright, watching the next Brighton & Hove Albion breeze into Molineux to celebrate promotion next year as we all watch on in stoic lethargy.

Not so much the vision of feverish wolves that the club will want us to feast over next season…

…Just more of the same old tails, wagging the same old dog.

Wolves Vs Brighton & Hove Albion Preview

I think we’re safe from relegation. That’s the only big plus to come out of last weekend.

For Blackburn to make up 11 points on us with only 15 left to play for (18 in our case) seems unlikely.

Add to that all the teams between us and the bottom three, most of whom have to play each other and it would take a horrible combination of results to send us down.

It would be nice to take matters into our own hands though and maybe even power into the top half.

I’d like to see us beat last season’s tally of 58 points too.

Brighton

The Seagulls are close. Very close. A win tomorrow won’t mathematically guarantee promotion but probably as good as.

I doubt Huddersfield will manage more than 86 points anyway so they’re probably home and dry.

Good for them I say. They’ve chipped away at the top six for years and deserve their chance in the Premier League.

Chris Hughton has proven himself a very good manager and shrewd additions like Glenn Murray and Anthony Knockaert have taken them on a stage.

I’d like to see them win the league ahead of Newcastle, but any sentiment obviously goes out the window tomorrow.

Wolves

I think Jon Dadi Bodvarsson is worth a start, particularly if Helder Costa doesn’t make it back.

But hopefully our star man will return and give us the best possible chance in a difficult looking fixture.

Paul Lambert might be tempted into ringing the changes after last weekend’s limp showing, but I’d prefer to keep the nucleus of the side that won five in a row.

Predictions

It’s fair to say that Brighton have established themselves at the top with a staggeringly good home record and solid but significantly less impressive away form.

They’ve won 10, drawn 5 and lost 5, scored 25 conceded 23. It’s still the second best away record in the league so perhaps it doesn’t inspire that much confidence.

The bookies have us at 15/8 for the win compared to the Seagull’s 11/8. If you’re brave enough to take a punt on the Wolves against the Championship leaders, these football betting tips might come in handy.

That said, a lot of their away matches are tight so we should be in the game. Sadly though, I expect their Championship wherewithal will win out.

1-2.

Up The Wolves!

Brighton & Hove Albion 1 Wolves 0

When Kenny Jackett had amassed 15 points from the opening 13 games of last season on a shoestring budget, the natives were restless.


Yet after an extraordinary summer of shenanigans and a storyline of Sky Dream Team proportions, here we sit, a solitary point better off under Walter Zenga, with two paltry wins since August 20.

While money can’t buy success, it’s about time it purchased a bit of accountability before this season – so full of promise – lurches into the laughing stock.

For 11 of our 13 results (Reading home, Newcastle away), Wolves haven’t bothered showing up for the first 45 minutes, in a maddening trend exploited this time by Brighton.

And of the 13 hastily assembled summer signings, only three were on the pitch when we kicked off (Costa, Saiss and Oniangue) to suggest there are more problems behind the scenes that many fans want to give credit for.

What became of Ola John, a wide player whose stating berth is filled by central midfielder Prince? Or Paul Gladon, who can’t even make our goal shy squad which only has two recognised strikers to its name?

Rather than heads being scratched and questions being asked, a devil-may-care attitude seems to pervade, with Fosun’s megabucks cushioning any questions that would otherwise be asked in any other given season.

Mine, were a chance to ever be offered to Walter Zenga, would be along the lines of:

· What do your teamtalks consist of in content and delivery? And at what point will you adopt a different tack to ensure we actually participate in games of football for the first 45 minutes?

· Why do you play a 4-3-3 formation, with players out of position, when it patently doesn’t work?

· Do you not rate Texeira or Caveleiro when neither can command a regular place in your side? (The latter a supposed match-winner worth £7 million who looks inferior to James Henry.)

· Come to think of it, did you have a single say on any of our summer signings when you are so reticent to play any of them? IE Do Ola John and Paul Gladon exist?

· Should we send Stearman back?

Thomas commented last night that he wasn’t surprised at this start, given the type of players we’ve accrued and the head coach in charge of them. Personally, I am staggered. I thought the days of Steven Mouyokolo and Tomasz Frankowski were a thing of the past, not to mention the penniless Birmingham City outperforming us once more.

After last night’s no-show, give or take a final few frantic pushes, we are what we are…

…Low on inspiration, high on squad numbers and two points above Aston Villa.

Brighton & Hove Albion Vs Wolves Preview

There’s been some tough away fixtures in the first quarter of the season.

After tonight we’ll have played Brighton, Villa, Newcastle, Blues and Huddersfield.

Assuming this match follows a similar pattern to those other fixtures, we’ll have been competitive with everyone, which must give Walter Zenga belief.

Wolves seem to be able to find a rhythm away from Molineux and an intensity that teams struggle to contain.

Long may that continue. If it does, results will certainly improve.

Brighton

1024px-Brighton_&_Hove_Albion_logo.svgThe Seagulls overachieved last season, amassing a whopping 89 points and missing out on automatic promotion by a goal difference of just 2.

It was little surprise they were a spent force in the play-offs, going out to Sheffield Wednesday in the semi-final.

But they’ve hit the ground running again this year and look a decent bet to go close once more.

Chris Hughton has bolstered his squad with experience in the shape of Steve Sidwell and Glenn Murray as well as highly rated Reading midfielder Oliver Norwood.

They dropped points at home over the weekend thanks to Preston’s last minute equaliser so will be keen to get back to winning ways. They’re unbeaten in their last six.

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Wolves

Walter Zenga says he’d rather by lucky than good at the moment and I can sort of see where he’s coming from.

team-for-brighton

The team were good against Villa but didn’t get much luck. Personally, I’d stick with the same eleven or something very close to it.

When we’ve played really well (Blues, Newcastle and Villa come to mind), it’s because the balance of the team has been right.

Games like Wigan, Norwich and Barnsley slipped away because the composition of the team wasn’t quite there. We need that combination of ability and physical power.

Although many weren’t a fan of Oninangue out wide, I thought he gave us more of a foothold in the game and with Coady bolstering the middle of the park, Costa had license to do as he pleased. It worked well.

Iorfa’s pace and power going forward also gave the team something extra, with Hause competent on his return and Doherty much better down the left.

Teixeira, Cavaleiro and possibly even Dicko could be likely starters if Zenga chooses to move some of the pieces around.

Walter Zenga

Predictions

A lot went into that performance at Villa so repeating the trick down on the coast will be very difficult.

And make no mistake about it, Brighton are a much better team than Villa. They won’t just wilt and die after 45 minutes.

Chris Hughton was very complimentary in his pre-match amble about Wolves so he’ll also know exactly what to expect.

But I saw enough at the weekend to suggest we’ll give as good as we get.

1-1.

Up The Wolves!

Brighton & Hove Albion 0 Wolves 1

You would have got generous odds on Wolves racking up three consecutive cleansheets prior to this festive purple patch.

Brighton Wolves celebrate

The very notion of a shut out seemed far fetched after conceding seven goals in three days against Leeds and Sheffield Wednesday.

But well done Wolves and well done Kenny Jackett for discovering some much needed defensive resolve.

An enforced change in personnel looks to have helped with Connor Coady going from strength to strength after a spell on the sidelines.

Coady, along with midfield mainstay Kevin McDonald and the ever willing Dave Edwards have plugged those dangerous pockets of space in front of our inexperienced back four.

That’s taken some of the heat off Batth and Ebanks-Landell and shown they can be an effective partnership when adequately shielded.

Matt Doherty has also impressed on his return to the side, winning headers and generally showcasing physicality the head coach obviously feels Scott Golbourne is lacking.

Carl Ikeme looks back to his best, no doubt benefiting from a sustained run in a side many would say he should never have been out of in the first place.

But whether it’s a change of shape, a change of lineup, a confident goalkeeper or all of the above, the end product is the best run of results the team have enjoyed all season.

So what now?

Keeping Benik Afobe would be handy. His selfless running and hold up play have been a feature of late.

Even today up against the highly impressive Lewis Dunk, he protected the ball effectively and on occasion caused Brighton problems.

Hopefully the injury that forced Jordan Graham off late in the day doesn’t prove serious as his dancing feet have been decisive in each of our last four goals.

There was an element of fortune today, but his cross into that well known ‘corridor of uncertainty’ drew the all important error.

Keeping Graham fit and protecting his burgeoning talent are no doubt high on the head coach’s agenda.

Finding one or two more bodies to improve the team should also be right up there and may prove decisive over the final stretch.

There are a ruck of players coming back from loan spells, one new signing already waiting in the wings and the possibility of more to come.

And who could have foreseen Bjorn Sigurdarson’s resurgence? He impressed in a short cameo and could be the season’s bonus ball.

A turbulent January off the pitch seems inevitable, but with three winnable home fixtures to attack could things get even better?

With this Jekyll and Hyde, anything can happen team, it’s safe to say all bets are off.

Brighton & Hove Albion Vs Wolves Preview

You probably shouldn’t feel overly confident when you’re about to play a team that have only lost twice all season.

Wolves Brighton

Furthermore our current record against sides in the top six currently reads drawn four, lost two.

But after successive victories and with a ‘nothing to lose’ approach, you just wonder whether Wolves can cause an upset on the south coast?

Wins over Reading and Charlton dug us out of trouble but a positive result against the early season pacesetters would feel infinitely more significant.

Brighton

1024px-Brighton_&_Hove_Albion_logo.svgAfter that lightning start the Seagulls have only managed three wins in their last 10 league matches and are now back in the play-off pack.

Having now lost a couple of matches and suffered some injuries, it will be interesting to see if they can last the pace.

I wasn’t overly impressed when they came to Molineux earlier in the season. They were solid but didn’t look like world beaters, even when Wolves were reduced to ten.

That said, teams don’t put long undefeated runs together in the Championship if they haven’t discovered the right formula.

Rajiv van La Parra has been helping them out with a few goals, but he’ll sit this one out to further test the depth of Chris Hughton’s squad.

Wolves

Given that Kenny Jackett didn’t make any changes for Charlton, it seems unlikely he’ll move things around for this one.

Wolves team for Brighton

Grant Holt has departed so that frees up space on the bench for someone to move up the ladder. Whether or not new signing Michal Zyro is eligible on New Year’s day, I’m not sure.

Speaking of the winger, it seems likely one of our wide men will disappear in January to accommodate the Pole. Will van La Parra be sold? Will Ojo be sent back? Both?

Either way, our attacking players have consistently produced of late, which means we’re carrying requisite threat to win matches.

Predictions

It’s definitely a good time to be playing Brighton. They’re wobbling and we should be feeling good about life again after a decent Christmas.

But prior to losing their last two home matches, they’d won eight and drawn two, so it’s still fair to describe the Amex as a fortress.

A draw would complete a solid period of form, but I think we could do even better.

2-1.

Up The Wolves!