Wolves 2 Norwich City 2

Like many of you doubtlessly were, I was seething at full time.

I imagine the subject of most attendees’ ire will be at referee James Linington and fourth official Andy Woolmer for their timekeeping, but in truth neither can be accused of influencing this result.

Sure, the former was a little on the whistle happy side but when two teams move the ball with the sort of pace that Wolves and Norwich do, fouls will always be conceded.

Unlike many of those sat around me in the North Bank, I didn’t really begrudge any of the decisions that went the way of the visitors.

On tonight’s evidence, Daniel Farke is building a very decent side that should contend for promotion next year.

Their chances will of course hinder on whether they keep James Maddison, who is without doubt the best opposition player I’ve seen play live this season.

I thought he was tremendous this evening, and will be keeping my fingers crossed that the rumours of our interest in signing him are true.

But that’s enough about Norwich. The real reason we slipped up tonight, a potentially unpopular opinion though it may be, is because Nuno got his substitutions horribly (and uncharacteristically) wrong.

In the first half, Costa and Cavaleiro were enjoying the freedom of Molineux against the Canaries’ full backs.

Both were instrumental in creating the space needed to craft the opener, with their direct running also contributing to the healthy tally of dead ball situations we racked up in the early throes of the game.

The second goal was conjured from one of those exact situations, Douglas again delivering the goods and allowing N’Diaye to net his second goal in three games.

Our dreams of a Molineux rout to match the recent Sheffield United game were dashed, however, by a quick Norwich response served up by Maddison and scored by the imposing Christoph Zimmermann.

This led to a typically nervy end to the first half, though few would be fearing a second half quite as arduous as the one we were made to endure.

Costa’s removal at the break was seemingly down to a knock sustained during the first 45, one which had admittedly slowed him down.

But the decision to hook Cavaleiro – arguably our best player as of late – when Norwich were in the ascendancy was baffling.

I’m not going to dig Benik Afobe out too much given he is still in the early throes of his feted Molineux return, but his signing looks a gesture of pure romanticism at present.

Contributing precisely nothing to our performance, he was more a hinderance tonight than anything else.

Let’s hope we’ll be able to put this down to stage fright in the near future, but Leo Bonatini and Rafa Mir must be feeling slighted whilst twiddling their thumbs.

The lack of width caused by Costa and Cavaleiro’s removal left the opposition with plenty of space to play with and, though few shots on goal were resultantly mustered, an equaliser began to feel more and more of an inevitability as the game dragged on due to their possessional dominance.

After Morgan Gibbs-White, mightily impressive once again, spurned a great chance to put the game to bed it felt as if the ink had dried on a grisly script and, sure enough, the scores were level at the death thanks to Nelson Oliviera’s speculative piledriver.

With Cardiff increasingly breathing down our necks, things are about as close to squeaky bum time as they’ve been all campaign.

Alas, we’ve done enough so far to suggest that there’s no cause for anything other than slight concern. Saturday’s game against a flying Fulham side will no doubt prove difficult, but we’ve said that before plenty of big games this season and come out smiling.

Let’s hope we do again.

Wolves Vs Norwich City Preview

If Wolves can keep getting the job done at Molineux, any point gained on the road can be considered a bonus.

With Reading, Burton, Hull, Blues and Sheffield Wednesday still to pay a visit after tomorrow’s game against Norwich, victory in all the above matches against midtable or lower opposition would give us 90 points.

That doesn’t include the Derby match either.

If favourable fixtures and a giant head start aren’t enough to instil confidence, I still think there’s a good level of consistency in the performances.

Norwich

Thanks to Canaries fan Rob from City of Yellows for sending over the following perspective from the away end:

When Wolves travelled to Carrow Road earlier in the season they were, and still are, a country mile the best side to play at the Carra.

The movement, the pace, the directness and the way Wanderers attacked in numbers helped to produce a comfortable 2-0 win. City were still finding their way under new manager Daniel Farke with a new playing style and many new recruits.

The philosophy of Farke is starting to have an impact with the playing style often featuring very slow build up with three at the back, two holding midfielders, Jame Maddison and Josh Murphy roaming attacking midfielders and Nélson Oliveria leading the line.

Another trait of City is that as the game progresses, the team get stronger – thanks to double training sessions and lots of running. So if City can keep the game level for as long as possible, a late winner (or equaliser) may be on the cards.

A goal a game is currently the trend, so unless Wolves can conjure up the same performance as earlier in the season, expect a 0-0 or a 1-0 which could go either way.

Best wishes for the remainder of the season and your assault on the Premier League.

Betting

Wolves are resounding 8/13 favourites to come out victorious according to William Hill. The draw is 13/5 and Norwich are 5/1. To get the best return on your stake visit Topbettingsites.com for the latest offers and bonus bets.

Wolves

I might be in the minority but I’d give Benik Afobe a start tomorrow:

There have already been murmurs of discontent about a lack of goals, but come on guys, he’s only had three appearances off the bench. It’s not enough to make a fair assessment.

Yes, a few decent openings have come and gone in those cameos, but at least he’s getting the chances. We need to see what he can do from the start before being able to accurately assess whether or not he can improve this side.

Elsewhere, it’s difficult to see any obvious changes, unless of course Nuno feels Saiss should get back in or Bonatini is a better option in attack.

Predictions

Norwich are decent on their travels, but they don’t score many home or away, which doesn’t bode well against the highest scorers in the league.

That said, they gave Arsenal and Chelsea a real run for their money in the cup competitions so have form for stepping it up against better opposition.

I like Daniel Farke as a coach and I really like James Maddison (hint, hint Fosun), but hopefully Wolves have enough to nullify their threat.

3-1.

Up The Wolves!

Norwich City 0 Wolves 2

You can’t accuse either side of not playing the game the right way.

The ball was zip-zapping around the Carrow Road pitch all evening and with space to aim their passes, Wolves always looked the more likely winners.

Two goals could easily have been three, four or five if a small selection of the clear openings created had been despatched.

But too many times legs got tangled, defenders got back or the final ball simply wasn’t good enough. I feared the worst.

Norwich were busy and always on the edge of breaking through so when Leo Bonatini’s ninth goal of the season finally arrived it mercifully prevented a grandstand finish.

Wily Boly’s early header was a welcome bonus ball and his presence in the back three immediately makes Wolves a more imposing proposition.

Not only does the giant Frenchman look a foot taller than everyone else, but his calmness in possession is like having another midfielder on the pitch. Quite handy for our style of play.

He also made a superb last ditch intervention to toe poke the ball over his own crossbar with Cameron Jerome poised to score his inevitable goal.

Ryan Bennett isn’t as fancy but barely put a foot wrong all evening, so those two should feel confident of keeping their places for the Fulham game.

N’Diaye brought to the midfield what Boly added to the defence – raw power and calmness on the ball. I’ll forgive him a few awful misses. He powered up and down all night, which freed up Neves to pull some strings.

It wasn’t our star midfielder’s best night as too many passes went astray but in the spells of possession when the team looked at it’s more imperious, he was inevitably at the epicentre.

Jota and Cavaleiro were both typically dynamic and mobile, stretching Norwich on the break and giving Wolves endless menace.

With Helder Costa still looking a yard off the pace and notably uninterested, it’s hard to look beyond those two at the minute.

Bright was strong and skillful in his cameo, but again wasted a wonderful chance of his own creation, getting his pocket picked at the crucial moment.

Nuno’s got to be pleased though. Players seem to be able to drift in and out of this side without the overall quality suffering.

That bodes well for the long winter ahead. If we’re built for distance as well as speed, I can’t see anyone overtaking.