Wolves Vs Derby County Preview

Will this be the game?

I’m not optimistic about Reading’s chances of derailing the juggernaut at Craven Cottage tonight, but stranger things have happened in football (see last Friday night).

Either way, it’s surely a case of ‘when’ and not ‘if’ now for even the most fretful, psychologically damaged supporter amongst us?

Although it’s sometimes not ideal to play the day after all your rivals, the extra day of rest would seem to play further into our hands.

Derby

There was a time not so long ago that we were looking over our shoulders at a Derby team that couldn’t stop winning.

Unfortunately for them, when they did stop, they couldn’t start again. That is until last week when the the challenge became about cementing their play-off credentials.

They come into this game just three points ahead of Millwall in 7th. They do have a game in hand but that game is against Cardiff in what will probably be the feistiest 90 minutes of the season.

They’ve also got to play Wolves, Aston Villa and Middlesbrough before the month is out, so a lot of work left to do if they’re to remain in contention.

Back-to-front they’re loaded with Championship experience, so it’s somewhat surprising how much they capitulated through February and March.

Matej Vydra is the league’s top scorer with 20, while highly rated winger Tom Lawrence scored a wonderful goal against Bolton at the weekend and seems like a potential match winner for the Rams.

Wolves

Eyebrows were raised over Nuno’s team selection on Friday, but given how the game played out I think you’d have to say he got it right.

Afobe made some good contributions out wide and Bonatini was very unlucky not score. But introducing Costa and Cavaleiro late on really gave Cardiff something to think about and had either taken their chance to score, the plan would have worked to perfection.

As it was, we needed some luck and the heroics of John Ruddy. Good on that man for finding his best form at the precise time we needed it most.

I think we might see something more orthodox this time.

Predictions

Derby have the third best away record in the league (behind Wolves and Fulham) so I think that tells you we’re probably in for a tough game.

I was at Pride Park for the reverse fixture back in August. They had their moments in that game and put some pressure on in the first half but Wolves ultimately emerged with a comfortable victory.

I’m hoping for a similar sort of match up, but suspect it will be closer this time.

1-1.

Up The Wolves!

Hull City Vs Wolves Preview

It’s very difficult to watch a performance like Saturday’s and not get carried away.

Embed from Getty Images

Are Derby weaker than last season? Perhaps. But they’ve still got a lot of Championship nous in that team and a manager whose proven he can squeeze every ounce out of his group.

I expected them to provide a stern examination of our players and our system and they did initially with some intricate play, mixed with a few high diagonals up to Chris Martin looking for knock downs.

Wolves calmly absorbed the early barrage, worked their way into the game and once in the driving seat, ruthlessly turned the screw.

Nobody can possibly know if they have the capacity to consistently repeat that level of performance, but if they do there’s only one inevitable conclusion.

Hull

I wasn’t sure about Hull before the season started with their low profile summer recruitment and a questionable managerial appointment.

Maybe that’s unfair on Leonid Slutsky who has managed the Russian national team and enjoyed success at CSKA Moskow, winning titles and being the first coach to get them into the knockout stages of the Champions League.

Coupled with the obvious advantages of his friendship with Roman Abramovich maybe Hull were ahead of the curve in their recruitment process, as they were last season with Marco Silva?

It’s been a very good start for Slutsky, with a good point from Villa Park and a thumping win over Burton at the weekend, albeit aided by a sending off.

Looking down their teamsheet, there’s some good talent. The winger Grosicki really caught my eye in the Premier League last season and in Fraizer Campbell and reported Wolves target Abel Hernandez, they’ve got the firepower.

Hernandez got a hat-trick against Burton so his confidence levels will be through the roof. For what’s it worth, I’d love to see him at Molineux. Doubt that one has legs though.

Wolves

Got to be the same again Nuno. It remains to be seen whether the head coach fancies freshening things up for these midweek games, but I’d like changes to be kept to a minimum if possible.

I thought every single player was very good at Derby but the two I would pick out for special praise are Boly and Enobakhare.

Boly dominated and never once looked flustered in possession, impudently stepping inside tackles in tight spots and playing out from the back.

Bright coupled all the good things about his recent performances – touch, close control, ball carrying, committing men – and then just played his team mates in. An outstanding, mature display.

Bonatini might be under threat, particularly missing that sitter at 1-0, but he’s busy, mobile and still looks very capable to me.

Predictions

Burton were reportedly well in the game on Saturday before the sending off and I don’t get the sense Hull are the finished product just yet.

We’re not either, but on Saturday’s evidence, it’s coming together.

I’m inclined to go for another win, but as I’ve predicted two draws thus far, superstition has unfortunately kicked in so my hands are tied. I’m sure you appreciate my situation.

1-1.

Up The Wolves!

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Derby County 0 Wolves 2

One team, full of experienced players, struggling to keep up with superior opposition in front of expectant full house.

Embed from Getty Images

Sound familiar? Thankfully the roles were reversed at Pride Park with Derby County given that same sobering slap in the face that we’ve all been used to for so many years.

So majestic and so utterly dominant were Wolves that you almost felt sorry for the Rams, such was the gulf in class and the fact we’ve been on the receiving end of countless spectacles like this ourselves.

It’s those results of yesteryear – the last three drubbings we’ve suffered at Derby for example – that keep us all grounded as things must take an inevitable turn for the worse.

But on yesterday’s evidence during large spells of our 2-0 masterclass, there’s no reason to think that they will, other than the fact that this is Wolves we’re talking about.

Nuno’s Wolves though, a subtle difference. A team that seems content to crack past millstones around our necks as they’re cracking opponents on the football pitch.

They keep the ball in tight situations, never panic and patiently wait to make the right pass at the right time – all in a new look formation that a familiar old nemesis couldn’t lay a glove on.

A matter of weeks ago, Bradley Johnson, Chris Martin and co were filling their boots in this same fixture at the iPro without seemingly breaking sweat.

Roll Fosun’s clock forward and they were blowing out of their backsides after an hour, huffing and puffing to get to where the ball had been a second before it was laid off.

The back three of Boly, Miranda and Coady were outstanding once again, with John Ruddy’s presence behind them comforting, even if he was largely untroubled (give or take a good low stop and a tip over the bar from range).

Neves and Saiss were chief architects in midfield, not only working their way out of tight spots with aplomb, but positively demanding the ball in these taxing areas to begin with.

Their vision then unfurls vast expanses of pitch as if shaking a giant rug, with Doherty and Douglas free to roam and Jota and man-of-the-match Bright benefiting further forward.

Bonatini then spearheads the attack and while not entirely convincing, he displays enough intuitive ability on the ball to tell you he’s one of Nuno’s players.

Common sense is clearly agreeing with those footballing gods too, as a giant Red Row digital advert flanked the 2-0 scoreline on the Pride Park screen. Beneath it, Conor Coady left Andreas Weimann in a heap on the floor after cleaning out the ball – and player – with customary intensity (no handshake offered or hair ruffled thereafter). Here was a broken player we’d have been watching instead of the brilliant Diego Jota, who tormented the home side to lay on the second goal for Cavaleiro, having hit the post earlier.

This performance was as progressive as it gets. As an away display, it could rarely get better, to the point in which you could scarcely believe who we were watching. Singing ‘it’s just like watching Brazil’ sounded surreal too.

As a soundtrack for the afternoon, it was surely the most fitting.