Charlton Athletic 0 Wolves 2

How much brighter is everyone’s outlook after back-to-back victories?

Graham Charlton

Old gold confidence is higher than it’s been for a while as we approach 2016 closer to the play-offs than the relegation zone.

In what may hopefully be a metaphor for the season, a largely forgettable first 45 minutes was followed by a much improved second half with Wolves running out comfortable victors.

On a sunny winter’s afternoon in South London there were more than just the unseasonable conditions for a sizable travelling support to enjoy.

At the back, Wolves built on a clean-sheet at Reading with another solid performance.

Carl Ikeme will certainly have busier afternoons this season, and if Batth and Ebanks-Landell continue to cut out the defensive errors, any January recruits might find it more difficult to break into the starting XI than would have been predicted only a few weeks back.

Away end Charlton

Charlton, admittedly missing several influential players including one time Wolves target Gudmundsson, created very little in the way of goal-scoring opportunities.

Much of the credit for this must go to the industrious Connor Coady who completed a second full 90 minutes in three days yet never stopped running.

What was most impressive was as well as providing the expected defensive cover, his lung-busting runs often saw him supporting Afobe as the most advanced of the central midfield trio.

After an impressive start to his Wolves’ career, his form seemed to desert after that sending off against Brighton. Continuing to perform at this level for the remainder of the season would do nicely.

It seems impossible to review any game at present without praising Jordan Graham, and today was no exception.

As well as providing yet another assist, the winger remained composed to score his first Wolves goal after good work from Afobe on the right. Hopefully the first of many to come.

Looking out over the numerous tower cranes and construction works as the overground service transported us back north of the river, you couldn’t help hope (dangerous thing for a Wolves fan) we too can build on some encouraging foundations.

Charlton Athletic Vs Wolves Preview

Had we failed to beat Reading, I think we’d all be looking at this fixture a little differently.

Charlton

But with the relative comfort of seven points between Wolves and the bottom three, you’d be forgiven for breathing easier.

Losing tomorrow against a team in free fall may reignite the panic though, so best to avoid that scenario if possible lads.

With two games inside 48 hours, you’d expect to see a few changes in personnel for both sides, which could prove the difference.

Charlton

Charlton logoThe Addicks are sinking like a stone and it took a last kick of the game equaliser at Ashton Gate to prevent a Boxing Day defeat at fellow strugglers Bristol City.

They haven’t won any of their last six and have lost three of those matches to cement a place inside the relegation zone.

Bristol City, Rotherham and MK Dons all seem capable of picking up results, making their current plight all the more worrying.

Their home form (won three, drawn four, lost four) isn’t disastrous so perhaps if they are to repair the damage, the Valley can be their saving grace?

Wolves

It was disappointing to see Jack Price ruled out against Reading. Hopefully he’ll make it back in time for this one, as I think Dave Edwards needs a rest.

Wolves team for Charlton

I still think a more compact midfield would suit us defensively and without wanting to dwell on the point, I also think trying Iorfa centrally at the expense of Ebanks-Landell is well worth a go.

I’m expecting a couple of changes, so it will be interesting to see how Kenny uses his available resources in pursuit of a winning formula.

Predictions

I haven’t predicted victory in a while but I’m feeling foolishly confident.

Yes, Charlton are long overdue a win, but tails should be up after our own morale boosting result and I think there’s less pressure away from Molineux.

I’ll go for a narrow but highly satisfying 2-1.

Up The Wolves!

Wolves 2 Charlton 1

Early season victories rarely feel this important.

Le Fondre

But our spirited fight back against a well organised Charlton side was crucial after consecutive league defeats and the goings on behind the scenes.

And whilst it’s unlikely to evaporate the discontent felt by most supporters about the imminent loss of Richard Stearman, it was nice to see signs of life after our feeble outing at Cardiff.

James Henry had one of his better games on the left side of midfield while Kortney Hause and Ethan Ebanks-Landell also looked pleasingly dependable at the heart of defence, offering hope for the immediate future.

Nouha Dicko’s injury is a major setback and it’s worrying to think of a Wolves team deprived of his services. Few centre forwards can stretch a backline as well as our number nine can and it’s crucial that Kenny Jackett is allowed to re-enter the transfer market to cover for what looks like a lengthy absence.

Carl Ikeme’s early season woes continued as he came unstuck by a relatively straightforward attempt by Johann Berg Gudmundsson. The big man’s kicking was also dire and the psychological impact of his demotion to the bench is beginning to look worryingly obvious.

Performance wise, we can have few complaints. But any feelgood factor brought about by this victory is tempered by the baffling news of Richard Stearman’s sale to Fulham.

For a club that allegedly has ambitions to return to the Premier League, it seems strange to sell your reigning player of the season to a side to a rival.

Kenny Jackett may describe this as a ‘footballing decision’ but it’s becoming more and more apparent that Steve Morgan’s influence at Molineux stretches well beyond the boardroom.

The club’s insistence that they won’t sell Benik Afobe is now beginning to look uncreditable. If they’re willing to take £2 million for one of the best defenders in the division, can we really trust them to turn their noses up at a big money offer for one of its best strikers?

After the futile assurances that we would spend big to replace Bakary Sako, Morgan and Moxey are at real risk of undoing the good work of the last two years and transforming us into a team whose tendency is to look down the league table rather than up it.

The next three days are crucial and I’ll be crossing my fingers for better news, albeit more in hope than expectation.

The gaffer

Wolves Vs Charlton Athletic Preview

Kenny Jackett’s Molineux win ratio must be as good as any manager we’ve ever had.

Chalrton one

Unlike so many previous incumbents, he actually gets the crowd on side from the off by playing high tempo, attacking football.

I worried the loss of Bakary Sako would take the wind out of our home performances, but despite patchy results, we’ve come out of the blocks quickly against both Hull and QPR.

Where we seem to have fallen short is making the most of the chances we create and being overly generous at the back.

If we can cut out the silly errors, soft penalty concessions and horrific goalkeeping errors, I still think we can beat anybody.

Charlton

Charlton logoThe Addicks had a tough start on paper, so to be sitting third in the table, undefeated and with a couple of wins up their sleeve suggests good things are happening at the Valley.

When they came to Molineux last season, in Guy Luzon’s first game in charge, they were solid at the back and dangerous on the break in a competitive nil nil. It was a good Championship performance.

Perhaps it shouldn’t be a surprise then that they’ve progressed and could very well be that surprise package who slip under the radar in the early months.

Like most foreign managers, Luzon has filled his team with an assortment of European talent making Charlton a real unknown quantity. I’m looking forward to seeing what they’ve got to offer on Saturday.

Wolves

Here’s a brain teaser for you. How many players could you definitively say would be guaranteed to start for Wolves tomorrow?

Wolves team for Charlton

After last Saturday’s indifferent display and the more encouraging midweek performance, Kenny has selection dilemmas all over the pitch.

Will Ikeme retain the number one slot despite costing us a goal at Cardiff? Did the likes of Doherty and Price do enough to warrant a recall? What about up front? Is Le Fondre now in contention for a start?

Good luck working all that lot out. The above XI is one of probably two dozen or so permutations given all the players the head coach has at his disposal. He needs to establish his best team sooner rather than later.

The gaffer

Predictions

I have no idea what will play out tomorrow. I said Charlton are an unknown quantity and that’s kind of how I feel about Wolves right now.

There are a good players all over the pitch, but it was concerning how easily we were nullified against Cardiff and then exploited defensively.

My gut instinct is the team will put on a significantly better performance and hopefully that will deliver the result we so desperately need ahead of the international break.

2-1

Up The Wolves!

Wolves 0 Charlton Athletic 0

You might not think it, but there were a couple of positives to take out of this mundane encounter.

Wolves charlton

Namely a third consecutive cleansheet and a seventh notch added to the undefeated streak.

Now up to seventh, the gap between ourselves and the play-off places may have increased to three points, but only six separate Wolves from the top two. It’s all up for grabs.

Yesterday may have seemed a missed opportunity, but the reality is, it could have been much worse.

Charlton deployed and executed an effective game plan.

Having been slapped five nil at Watford last weekend, their objectives were clear from the first whistle – contain and destroy.

Faultless would be a fair description of the visitor’s defensive display. Clueless sums up Wolves’ attempts to break the resistance.

On the rare occasion the force field was breached the delivery wasn’t up to scratch and there were seldom enough bodies in the box.

In fact, for all Wolves huff and puff, the only real chances of note fell to the Addicks, as they picked off their increasingly desperate and shapeless hosts on the break.

Carl Ikeme made a couple of important saves, whilst each individual member of the back four were forced into desperate interventions.

Kenny Jackett attempted to conjure victory with an identikit solution to the previous Saturday, bringing on another forward and shifting Dave Edwards to the left.

On this occasion, it didn’t work – even with Scott Golbourne pushing forward – and robbed Wolves of width.

Rajiv van La Parra was the only effective outlet and despite some neat trickery and the odd burst of pace, his efforts failed to prise open the gates.

Over in Africa, Bakary Sako scored the type of goal for Mali that reminded us why he’s so important to the Wolves cause.

If he was to leave this month, to Albion (can’t see that one happening) or anyone else, our immediate prospects would be significantly hampered.

We can only hope that the player will wait to cash in his chips at the end of the season and the Molineux hierarchy show the same defiant resistance that Charlton so admirably demonstrated yesterday.

The gaffer

Wolves Vs Charlton Athletic Preview

Wolves are the Championship’s form team.

Wolves Charlton

It’s four wins in a row, five wins in six and just two goals conceded in this tidy little run that’s seen us climb back to within a point of the play-off places.

It was a slog against Blackpool, but the team stuck to their principles and eventually picked them apart.

This game could follow a similar pattern, but you couldn’t ask for a better fixture to make it five consecutive league victories.

Charlton

Charlton logoWhile Wolves have been putting their season back together, Charlton have been falling apart.

During the same six game period, they’re the Championship’s whooping boys, having lost four and drawn two. That includes three defeats in a row coming into this fixture culminating in a 5-0 hiding at Watford last weekend.

Bob Peeters has been given the flick, replaced by another household name in Guy Luzon. Is another untested foreign manager really what the Addicks need to steady the ship? I’m not so sure.

Too many draws has been the problem – 13 so far, which is the most in the league. They’ve only lost seven matches, which is actually one less than Brentford and Watford, who occupy play-off positions.

Top scorer Igor Vetokele caused us headaches at the Valley and he’ll be one to watch if included at the weekend.

Wolves

Aside from Bakary Sako’s continued absence all is looking rosy in the garden for Kenny Jackett with Scott Golbourne now back in contention.

Wolves team for Blackburn

It’ll be tough for our diminutive full-back to get into the side though with the defence performing so admirably. I can’t see the gaffer changing it.

He may however consider giving Benik Afobe a full debut, potentially pushing the big striker up alongside Dicko or playing him just behind.

Whichever configuration he chooses, I feel reasonably confident we’ll have enough to win, which is testament to the squad Jackett has built.

The gaffer

Predictions

Logic dictates Wolves should win this game, so hopefully the figures are proven correct and it’s another home victory.

It would be nice to rattle in a few goals, but Charlton’s high volume of drawn matches suggests they’re no pushovers.

Expecting something similar to Blackpool, with an equally familiar result.

2-0

Up The Wolves!