Burton Albion 0 Wolves 4

In the wake of this victory – our most convincing of the season by some distance – one can only assume that the Wolves players wiled away the hours of Friday night playing FIFA 18.

The football on display at the Pirelli Stadium was often befitting of a video game, such was the precision of our build up play and composure in front of goal.

The footwork of the diminutive pairing of Ivan Cavaleiro and Ruben Vinagre was often the stuff of pure fantasy, with poor Stephen Warnock ending up on his backside when attempting to prevent our fourth and final goal.

It was a performance to behold, one that erased the premature fear of a dip in form following our defeat to Sheffield United.

Given our response to the loss against Cardiff earlier in the season, that always seemed unlikely but those of a glass half empty persuasion can be forgiven for expecting the worst given there is the small matter of the derby with in-form Aston Villa looming.

As pointed out in previous blogs, Wolves finally seem to have found themselves a manager capable of instilling a winning mentality within the club and that was never more apparent than yesterday.

Say what you like about the Brewers, but they’re a formidable side at home that try and play football the right way.

Nonetheless, their efforts were fruitless yesterday as we surged into an early two goal lead.

Cavaleiro, in the sort of form that makes him worthy of the seemingly never ending song that has been dedicated to him, did well to tee up the clinical Diogo Jota for the first, whilst the less Stephen Bywater hears about the Roman Saiss’ tap in that followed shortly after the better.

If those goals were pleasing but somewhat underwhelming, the following two made for gleeful viewing.

Ruben Vinagre, arguably the best performer on the pitch, weaved his way into the opposition box in a manner befitting of the world’s very best full backs before dispatching the ball low and hard past the hapless Bywater.

Though he is far from the finished article, it is becoming clearer with every passing game that the Portuguese loanee is a frightful talent that has the potential to go far in his career.

It was hard to see that goal being topped for quality, but the fourth was the result of some simply outrageous skill.

After turning the aforementioned Warnock inside out, Cavaleiro squared the ball to the also excellent Matt Doherty who rolled it nto the path of a gleeful Leo Bonatini for an easy fourth goal of his Wolves career.

Liquid football is the most appropriate term to describe this performance, and we now head into the international break, dependent on today’s results, sitting pretty in second place.

We can only hope that the ensuing spate of international games does not throw us off kilter, as you’d suspect we’ll have to replicate these standards when facing the more challenging prospect of Steve Bruce’s promotion chasers.

One thing’s for certain though, in this sort of form, Nuno’s men are capable of putting anyone to the sword.

Burton Albion Vs Wolves Preview

In the same way that consecutive wins build confidence, back-to-back defeats are problematic.

After losing to Cardiff, we beat Southampton in the cup and got a solid point at Brentford. It felt like we were immediately back in business.

We need to do something similar again ahead of the international break with a derby to come against Villa straight after. We don’t want a bad result to become a bad run.

Burton are no slouches, particularly on their own ground, but this remains a good opportunity to bounce back.

Burton

They’re a funny old team who’ve registered all sorts of results so far, beating Fulham at home one week and getting slapped by Villa 4-0 the next. Leeds also took them to the cleaners at Elland Road.

Towards the end of last season they looked a dangerous side. Michael Kightly and Cauley Woodrow came in and they were making life difficult for everyone, including Wolves.

They beat us 2-1 to curtail Paul Lambert’s brief march up the table and were good value for that win, turning things around after Helder Costa’s penalty gave Wolves the lead.

But Kightly and Woodrow are no more. Their talisman Jackson Irvine was also sold to Hull in August so it’s been another summer reshuffle for Nigel Clough.

One player they have recruited is Sean Scannell and he has been a thorn in our side on several occasions for Huddersfield and could be again tomorrow.

Wolves man Joe Mason hasn’t been able to consistently force his way into their first eleven yet and they won’t be able to call on his services in this one against his parent club.

Wolves

The key question is who slots in while Conor Coady serves his suspension? Deslandes, Bennett and Hause are the most likely candidates but there are more left field solutions.

It would be a bold move to play Romain Saiss in the back three but he’s come on and played there a few times, so I believe this will be one of the ideas Nuno considers.

Surely Helder Costa will be given another chance to play? Like everyone else, I’m excited to see if he can link up with Jota and Bonatini to create one of the most formidable front three combinations we’ve ever had.

Bonatini also came off at half time against Sheffield United, so hopefully he’s fresh for this one, but with Costa back I can see both Enobakhare and Cavaleiro played down the middle if the Brazilian needs a rest.

Predictions

I’m backing us to get the win. I think it will be a tough game, but this group of players have the quality and a winning mentality.

The key is playing our way into the game and controlling possession. That won’t be easy on a tight pitch with the crowd on top of them, but they’ll get it done.

2-1.

Up The Wolves!

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Burton Albion 2 Wolves 1

I never thought I’d begin any piece of writing by paraphrasing the mildly annoying American rock band Paramore but the lyric ‘that’s what you get when you let your heart win’ seems appropriate for this particular report.

After the jubilation that followed last week’s heroics at Anfield and the impressive midweek victory over Barnsley, anyone would be forgiven for thinking that the good times would continue to roll at the Pirelli Stadium.

But, in true Wolves fashion, that was not to be and we all should have known better.

This club has a famed habit for kicking you in the nether regions when you’re feeling most hopeful and, true to form, the away contingent were made to endure our poorest showing under Paul Lambert.

It’s hard to recall a more unimaginative performance than the one that was churned in yesterday, our only tactic being to hit long balls to a striker that was at least half a foot shorter than the two centre backs marking him.

Burton’s torrid pitch no doubt played a part in this, with the players looking uncomfortable on it from the onset, but that excuse can only take you so far when Bristol City, Preston and Wigan have all claimed victory on it at various stages of the season.

The narrowness of the field stymied the counter attacking play that has become synonymous with Lambert’s Wolves and subsequently Weimann, Dicko and Helder Costa – the latest subject of a variation on the Dave Clark Five’s ‘Glad All Over’ – were left isolated for much of the game.

The home side on the other hand looked empowered by the conditions and dictated most of the play in a largely uneventful first half, with their recent influx of loan signings appearing to have added quality to the side that claimed a point at Molineux last September.

Keeper Jon McLaughlin conceded the initiative when he bundled Dave Edwards over just before the break and allowed Costa to claim his tenth goal of the season from the penalty spot.

It was a lead that flattered us and none of those crammed into the glamorous Russell Roof Tiles Stand were under the illusion that a major improvement was not required in the second half.

That was not forthcoming and the Brewers claimed a deserved equaliser on the hour mark through loanee Michael Kightly, becoming the latest beneficiaries of our notorious ex-players curse whilst doing so.

Wolves never looked capable of responding and Lambert was frustratingly rigid in his tactics, preferring to send Bright on ahead of Bodvarsson and deadline day recruit Ben Marshall.

By the time the latter pair had come on, the game was drawing to a close and we were hanging on for a point.

Torrid defending, otherwise known as the theme of our afternoon, prevented us from doing that and Cauley Woodrow tucked in a late winner that well and truly erases the feel good factor of last week and leaves us just seven points clear of the trapdoor.

Four successive league fixtures at home offer ample opportunity to rectify this but there can surely be seldom repeats of today’s showing if we’re to end the season comfortably.

Wolves 1 Burton Albion 1

I’m not sure how many of the players involved yesterday were planning to watch the fight between Kell Brook and GGG but but this encounter had the air of a 12 round slugfest.

A bruising affair ended with the spoils shared, which despite Walter Zenga’s protestations was a more than fair outcome.

I was surprised by the ferocity with which Burton attacked the game and it was refreshing to see an un-fancied away side play for more than a point.

It was a tactic that would have earned the Brewers an early lead had Carl Ikeme not turned away Lucas Atkins’ tame spot kick, which was dubiously awarded by referee James Adcock.

The improvement in Ikeme this season has been notable. To think his position was under threat this time last year is frankly bonkers.

Wolves slowly began to exert themselves as the game went on and showed plenty of fluidity in attack, if little execution.

Ivan Cavaleiro looks a player with the potential to reach talismanic status but shy of full fitness. It was no surprise to see him hooked in the second half.

Despite a needless booking, Helder Costa excited on the flank with purposeful dribbling and interlinked well with Cameron Borthwick-Jackson on a pleasingly frequent basis.

The latter’s debut was welcome and offered Dominic Iorfa some much needed respite after an error laden start to the campaign.

Much has been made about our new found strength in depth as of late and I’m of the opinion it will be of particular benefit in defence, an area where we were worryingly thin on numbers last season.

Of course a consequence of having plentiful options is that settling on a balance eleven can become difficult and we may have to stomach a few more frustrating outcomes over the coming weeks as our new look side find their rhythm.

The positives are there for all to see though. Wolves look like a side with attacking verve and boundless energy, two attributes which spell a recipe for success in a division as frenetic as the Championship.

It’s never ideal to drop points at the death but at this early stage of the season I think it’s wise to dwell on the good work being done by Zenga and the players, as opposed to the inadequacies (defending of set pieces and decision making in front of goal being two of them) that will hopefully be ironed out in the weeks to come.

Tuesday night sees another promoted side with wagging tails paying a visit and it’ll be interesting to see how the players respond from today’s late setback.

If early signs are anything to go by, I’m expecting something positive.

Wolves Vs Burton Albion Preview

To say the last knockings of the transfer window elevated expectations further would be some understatement.

 

The arrivals of Saiss, Stearman and reported club record signing Cavaleiro in addition to the 10 other new faces already on board have shown Wolves mean business this season.

Saiss and Cavaleiro both represent serious investment, while Stearman’s return feels beautifully symbolic, righting a major wrong of last season.

But nothing would bring Molineux crashing back down to earth faster than a poor return from a couple of matches against the more un-fancied sides.

Burton

burton_albion_fc_logo-svgI was happy to see Burton get over the line last season. It did look like they might get reeled in towards the end but a second place finish ensured glorious back-to-back promotions.

It’s been a meteoric rise for the Brewers and Gary Rowett, Jimmy Floyd-Hasselbaink and Nigel Clough can all take a dollop of credit for the most successful period in the club’s 66 year history.

After two defeats in their opening Championship fixtures, it probably felt like a long road ahead, but they’ve since enjoyed two excellent home victories and their first point away.

Beating Sheffield Wednesday and Derby shows they’re a team to be respected and are unlikely to roll over and die at the weekend.

There’s a forum thread you can read here to get the Burton perspective on the game ahead.

Wolves

I don’t know if I’m more excited about Walter Zenga’s team selection or the game itself on Saturday.

Team for Burton

Anyone from our giant squad could make it onto the pitch and that’s an exciting feeling. The above is one eleven of many, although I expect a heavier presence from the old guard.

Walter has adopted a narrower shape on a narrowed Molineux pitch so far, but it would be nice to see a bit of genuine width and at least one of Cavaleiro, John or Costa getting a start.

Competition for places has never been higher and being able to constantly introduce fresh legs will help with so many midweek Championship fixtures to navigate, but I hope an inconsistent team selection doesn’t mean inconsistent performances.

Walter Zenga

Predictions

This will be harder than most people are probably anticipating, but I do think Burton are a team who’ll rely on their home form to keep them up.

Whichever eleven players make it out onto the pitch for Wolves should be fired up, refreshed and keen to impress so I’m backing us for a win.

The old trusty 3-1.

Up The Wolves!

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save