Wolves 1 Yeovil Town 0

Contemplating a ‘Plan B’ after two games of the season might sound a little churlish to many, not least when they’ve both ended up in 1-0 victories.

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But during spells of last night’s unnecessarily burdensome League Cup win, you were wondering what we wouldn’t give for a physical presence up top to hammer home all that intelligent interplay behind.

Don’t get me wrong, ‘Plan A’ looks extremely encouraging and the yearning for a Chris Iwelumo-type probably misses the point completely in this principled new age of possession based football.

(And imagine a scenario if we score an early goal and teams have to attack us. Then we could really have some fun!)

But for all the quite brilliant passing and moving, the hunch is that we’re still missing that final piece of the jigsaw to convert our undoubted dominance up to the edge of the penalty box.

Bonatini – who cuts the jib of Cedric Roussel in my mind – is still some way from being fit, while Nouha Dicko is still to completely convince following his injury, despite his well-taken winner.

If not a big man, then someone with that bit of devilment to fashion a chance from clever positional play. Jordan Rhodes anyone?

In any case, I couldn’t help but be impressed with this performance, which was laden with quick, incisive interplay in what appeared to be a 3-5-2 formation.

The personnel was almost entirely different to the Middlesbrough XI, save for Boly and Bonatini, but you could tell this was another Nuno side at work with Connor Ronan and Jack Price looking particularly easy on the eye in the middle of the park.

Danny Batth and Ryan Bennett looked competent alongside Big Willy, while our wing backs Vinagre and Jordan Graham were exactly what you’d expect; cool and calm on the ball with no little inclination to attack. If anything, they could have done this even more, with Vinagre seeing a lot more of the ball in the second half, lacking only in a telling final ball.

Without doubt, Dave Edwards struggled, shanking the ball out of play in the opening seconds and generally looking ill at ease when asked to recycle the ball in the pinball game mode we now adopt. His early substitution was telling, as was his reaction to it, shaking his head, kicking a water bottle (albeit apologetically) and throwing some energy bar/snack back at the lad who lobbed it his way.

The times, they are a changing, it would appear. (Bright Enobakhare looked so exciting when he came on, with Jota also impressing.)

But not enough to stop a familiar lapse in concentration when a Yeovil striker was afforded oceans of room in front of goal before we scored, only to shoot wide.

Had that have gone in, then we could have been looking at another League Cup embarrassment. Thankfully it didn’t, Nouha Dicko planted home a close-range header and we all move on.

Wolves Vs Yeovil Town Preview

That was a big win on Saturday.

We’ve been burned before after impressive starts under Solbakken and more recently Zenga, so there’s an element of caution for sure but the Nuno revolution already feels more credible than those false dawns.

There’s decent depth in this squad, albeit with a few key performers out injured, so I’m fully expecting us to progress in this tie even though most of the weekend’s starting eleven will likely sit it out.

I enjoyed last season’s cup run and it would be nice if we could make it through a few rounds in at least one of the competitions again this season. I’m still yet to see us play at Wembley.

Yeovil

It’s worth remembering that as recent as 2014 we’d have been considered underdogs in this tie with Yeovil up in the Championship and Wolves in League One.

Fast forward to now and while we’re dreaming of the top flight, Yeovil are licking their wounds after a 20th place finish in League Two last season and an 8-2 drubbing at the hands of Luton on the opening day of this campaign.

Things couldn’t have gone much worse for the Glovers in recent times and after that disastrous start on Saturday, they’re unsurprisingly rock bottom of the Football League.

Refunds were issued to traveling supporters who suffered the carnage at Kenilworth Road and it doesn’t seem like a happy club judging by various message boards and social media groups.

With little to lose, this is a good opportunity for them to make a amends for that poor showing and given our recent record in the competition, it could be their lucky night.

Wolves

I’m assuming we’ll see a completely different XI, but it’s difficult to know for sure until Nuno shows his hand for the first time in this type of contest. But here’s one possible combination.

That probably won’t be anything like the actual team in all honesty. I just got bored moving the pieces around trying to work who from the second string would slot into each position.

The above doesn’t include Michal Zyro or Joe Mason and if either don’t get a kick tomorrow, you would imagine their time is probably up. One or both might well start though.

Unless Nuno is going to be incredibly experimental, I think he’ll have to use at least a couple of the players who started at the weekend. But again, who knows? All guesswork.

Predictions

Whichever players make it onto the pitch for Wolves tomorrow, you would hope they’d find a way to win – convincingly or otherwise.

I’ll carry on the good vibes from the weekend and hope for comfortable progress rather than the usual extra time dramas.

3-1.

Up The Wolves!

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Newcastle United 2 Wolves 0

If Saturday was about the collective team performance, the positives to take from this tame League Cup exit were all about individuals.

Silvio being one such example, appearing on the teamsheet after a month and a half in the wilderness and turning in a steady seven out of ten.

Former Benfica team mate Ola John also got his debut and impressed in a 45 minute cameo, showing pace and flair in an otherwise toothless attacking effort from Wolves.

Jed Wallace squandered the team’s only meaningful effort, running through on goal but shooting tamely at the goalkeeper. His wastefulness against Barnsley proved costly and so it proved again last night.

To Newcastle’s credit the two goals they scored were Premier League quality. First Matt Richie’s neat one-two opened the door for a neat finish before the winger laid on the cross for Yoan Gouffran to let rip with an unstoppable volley.

I suppose after that double blow it has to be considered a positive that Wolves stuck at it and didn’t go to pieces.

And after John’s introduction, there was some hope of finding a way back into the contest, albeit fleetingly. But he’ll be a weapon in the weeks and months to come.

More disappointing was Paul Gladon, who again tried his very hardest to impose himself on the game but struggled to lead the line with anything like the effectiveness of Jon Dadi Bodvarrson.

With the Dutch man failing to impress and Joe Mason playing deeper, that puts a lot of pressure on the big Icelander, meaning Nouha Dicko’s return can’t come soon enough.

He scored for the U23’s on Monday and looked close to match fitness judging by the highlights. I wonder how much longer it will be before he’s considered ready for first team activity?

You probably won’t get a direct answer out of Walter Zenga, who continues to talk in riddles and metaphors, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Nobody will be second guessing Wolves while he’s in charge.

Least of all, any of us.

* Highlights of the game can be viewed here.

Newcastle United Vs Wolves Preview

I was wrong.

In the post-Barnsley discussion thread and my preview for Saturday’s game I felt Wolves would lose, regardless of the team selection.

Perhaps I was giving Newcastle too much credit or Walter Zenga and his players not enough, but could you blame me after Tuesday’s collapse?

Prior to the first leg of the St. James’ Park double header, I felt the most important thing was to at least see the emergence of a team. And boy did we get that and more.

Hopefully it’s the start of something and not just the first of many high points in a topsy-turvy season.

Newcastle

newcastle_united_logo-svgThe Magpies had most of the ball and forced Carl Ikeme into a couple of worldies, but I didn’t hear anyone begrudging Wolves what turned out to be a comfortable away win.

Rafa Benitez perhaps paid the price himself for rotation, as the likes of Mitrovic and Gouffran were dropped after featuring in the blitz of QPR.

Or maybe they were tired or maybe they thought they’d win comfortably. Whatever the reason, Wolves were well on top and that won’t sit well with the Toon supporters.

You’d expect the manager to ring the changes again and much like Wolves, it’s hard to know whether their supposed second string will even be inferior to the team we faced on Saturday.

Newcastle fan Jake hosts a Championship Podcast (which I’m due to be on early next week) and he sent me a few Tweets ahead of this one:

“Wolves looked to be a good team on Saturday, but previous results suggest a lack of consistency. Play-offs the ceiling? We have recovered well since bad start. Saturday was a reminder that we won’t be able to win every match. I’m not sure what team we will put out on Tuesday. That said, I can’t see you winning twice at SJP, so a home win this time!”

Wolves

Since Kevin McDonald’s absence and subsequent sale, we haven’t had any matchwinners in the middle of the park. Hopefully Romain Saiss can be that man.

team-for-newcastle-cup

The Moroccan was a key performer on Saturday and given how flaky we looked against Burton and Barnsley, he must be nailed on to start against Brentford.

As for tomorrow, I can see Zenga going big and changing the entire side. The above represents a completely different XI to Saturday, save for Doherty at full-back.

Speaking of full-backs I’m not sure how far away Silvio is from getting a game or Ola John. Zenga has been fairly tight-lipped on their status but would be great to see them back fighting for a shirt.

Predictions

I wanna go to Wembley baby. It’s long overdue and we haven’t even got anywhere close in the last 10 years and more.

This is a tough tie, but you would hope that whatever the team selection we’ve got a few players that can produce a moment of magic to help us progress.

Newcastle will be fired up after getting turned over at the weekend, so expecting a tough test, but with the residue of optimism still in the air from Saturday I’ll back us to squeak through.

2-1.

Chelsea Vs Wolves Preview

Visits to Stamford Bridge seldom end happily for Wolves, hence why I’m weighing up whether the timing of this fixture will benefit Ståle Solbakken.

Scraped by at the weekend

In our three previous visits, all in the Premier League, we’ve been on the end of 4-0, 2-0 and 3-0 losses.

Our manager has already shown his hand by naming a squad that excludes many of the players that started on Saturday.

We’ll go there, play a second-string (as our opponents will) and not fret too much about the result. That’s a sensible approach.

While in many respects it would have been interesting to see what questions our best eleven could ask of Chelsea reserves, getting a pasting could drastically effect the confidence of a team beginning to find it’s feet.

As it is, whatever the result tonight we can restore the first team against Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday and pick up where we left off at Peterborough.

I don’t need to tell you anything about Chelsea. European Champions, top of the Premier League, lots of talented players. Their ‘reserves’ will include the likes of Victor Moses, Ryan Bertrand and maybe even one or both of Frank Lampard and John Terry, who were left out against Stoke at the weekend.

Wolves

So we know the Wolves team will consist of: De Vries, Ikeme, Stearman, Zubar, Foley, Margreitter, Batth, Davis, Edwards, Jonsson, Price, Forde, Peszko, Ismail, Hunt, Boukari, Nouble, Sigurdarson.

This would be the team I’d pick from that lot:

I think like most supporters I’d love to see a glimpse of Ismail, but I doubt he’ll actually start at Stamford Bridge. More likely to come off the bench.

Somebody told me Saturday that Hunt is prepared to play at left-back so will be interesting to see if he’s selected there tonight.

Predictions

When we played Northampton in the cup a few weeks back I was inundated with emails from people asking why their Prediction League points hadn’t been added.

To be clear: There are no Prediction League points on the line for cup games.

So, just for fun, I’ll go for a narrow loss – 2-0.

It’s a shame that our chances of progressing in this competition seem to be constantly hampered by difficult fixtures at early stages. To get Man Utd twice, Man City and now Chelsea in the last four years is desperately unlucky.

But if we can stay organised and get a bit of luck, who knows?

Up The Wolves.

Northampton Town 1 Wolves 3

If you can make nine changes to your starting eleven and still run out convincing winners, there are definite reasons to be cheerful.

Now that’s what I call Clack!

Only Carl Ikeme and David Davis remained from Saturday’s snore-draw against Derby, with Ståle’s new boys taking center stage.

And come full time, this was very much Solbakken’s Wolves.

Sigurdarson and Nouble up front, Sako and Peszko on the wings, Doumbia in the middle, Margreitter at the back.

Times are a changing and if the second half is anything to go by, probably for the best.

Passing to feet, moving the opposition around quickly, opening up spaces. Much like the Barnsley game, plenty of encouraging signs.

Bakary Sako’s venomous drive was the icing on the cake and dare I say it, the sort of no-nonsense goal Matt Jarvis just wasn’t capable of scoring. Ball into feet, shift, bang. Welcome to Wolves.

Razak Boukari was also impressive, offering pace, trickery and a definite eye for a pass as demonstrated with an inch-perfect through ball for David Davis.

Will both of those players start on Sunday? I’d like to think so.

It’s harder to judge Georg Margreitter, as he wasn’t asked many questions, but I suppose the fact he came through the game unnoticed suggests he coped comfortably. Sterner tests await and it will be intriguing to see if Solbakken throws him straight in against Cardiff.

The two forwards also stood out. Nouble in particular deserved his goal and showed not only great physical strength, but also composure with the ball at his feet.

In an opening 45 where we struggled to string together more than two passes before hoofing long, both he and Sigurdarson showed great appetite.

Scrappy would be a kind adjective to use in describing that first half, accentuated by the two goals we bundled over the line.

Northampton’s equaliser was familiar territory. A cross not cut out down the left and a forward finding too much space in the middle to plant a header in the corner.

Like Saturday, we seemed to be lacking any sort of creativity through the middle, so I’d like think we’ll see at least one new signing before the day is out to rectify this problem.

But credit to Wolves, after the break when the game did open up, they really put their foot on the pedal, with the only disappointing aspect being that it took until stoppage time to sew the game up.

The young players like Forde and Davis, who was much improved from Saturday, also seemed to grow into the game and help control the play. That was a pleasant bonus.

As for our aspirations of progressing further in the competition, Chelsea away wasn’t the ideal draw, but it’s a plum tie all the same and a great test.

And who knows, we might even be on TV again?