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.

Norwich City Vs Wolves Preview

We’ve swallowed a few tough defeats at Carrow Road over the years. But then again, we’ve enjoyed some mesmeric highs too.

I remember a feeling of complete emptiness after that harrowing 3-1 play-off defeat in the infamous 2001-02 campaign.

But Wolves triumphed 3-0 the following year en route to the Premier League. I love you George Ndah.

There was a 5-2 battering to endure in our promotion season under Mick McCarthy, and we also ended up on the wrong side of another 3-1 last season, albeit under controversial circumstances.

But what about Robbie Keane’s debut? Or that chip from Bully over Bryan Gunn? They more than cancel out the anguish.

I feel like this one could very easily end up in either camp.

Norwich

Daniel Farke was cock of the walk after their victory over Ipswich the other week as the Canaries continued their climb up the table.

But defeat against Derby on Saturday has checked that progress, so he’ll be keen to start another unbeaten run to get them cemented in the top six.

I expected Norwich to be in the automatic promotion mix last season, but after falling dismally short and seeing a couple of players leave in the summer I wasn’t convinced they’d do a lot this time.

They’re up and around the action though so who knows?

Like Wolves they played a blinder in the cup, taking Arsenal to extra-time before eventually succumbing late on at the Emirates.

They’ve still got familiar foes like Cameron Jerome and Wes Hoolahan as well as reported Wolves target Nelson Oliveira who remains their joint top scorer in a stop-start season to date.

But with just 14 league goals so far, only four teams have a weaker attack so this notoriously high scoring fixture might be in for a quieter year.

Wolves

I don’t think it would hurt to freshen things up after the weekend. Having watched the game, I can definitely say the team looked like it needed a lift.

Boly, Vinagre and N’Diaye could give us more mobility and power. Bright is worth a start too having enjoyed his performance (minus finishing) at the Etihad.

While I agree with those who say Norris should be pushing Ruddy for a league start, I’m not a fan of changing the keeper around too much so I think if Nuno makes that big call, he’s got to stick with it.

There are plenty of combinations of course and this is just one. The defeat gives the coach a mandate to do as he wishes.

Predictions

I thought we’d win at the weekend and we lost. The performance wasn’t great either, but Wolves still created enough clear opportunities to have won the game.

Norwich don’t look as expansive as QPR, but I still think we’ll unpick them and create, so it becomes about taking those chances and keeping the back door shut.

I’ll back us for an edgy 2-1.

Up the Wolves!

QPR 2 Wolves 1

Fair play to QPR, I don’t begrudge them the win.

More for what they did in the second half than the first. They showed an increasing appetite to pile forward and muscle their way into the ascendancy.

That said, as the home side’s confidence grew, Wolves wasted two excellent chances to get themselves ahead but neither Bonatini or Jota could supply the finish.

If they had done, I think that would have been that, but instead Ian Holloway’s side continued to grow in belief and our defence are always vulnerable to those second phase crosses.

We won’t be the last team to see points disappear via Matt Smith’s forehead either and it’s a reminder to everyone that if you don’t maintain your standards, the Championship will bite back.

In the first half I couldn’t see QPR scoring from open play. Wolves were hardly razor sharp but it had the look of a game that would eventually turn in our favour.

They created little and were playing a high line. Cavaleiro and Jota both came close to breaking the trap and the latter dragged a shot wide after a good run.

But Saiss got caught in his own defensive third and Washington did well to lift the ball over Ruddy and squeeze the ball in at the near post.

The immediate equaliser via Jota’s unbelievable run and Bonatini’s bullet finish should have been the shot in the arm the lads needed a for a second half onslaught.

Instead it was QPR who came out firing and immediately saw a shot come off the bar.

Then came the missed chances in that period of the game that Wolves have been so effective this season and that profligacy was the difference between victory and defeat.

Any loss is painful when you’ve become accustomed to winning, but I don’t see this team embarking on a long winless run.

As Nuno pointed out afterwards, Wolves lacked intensity. I agree. Collectively they weren’t quite at the races.

A response is needed and Norwich away under the floodlights is a notoriously difficult challenge.

I suspect though, we will see that response.

Norwich City 3 Wolves 1

This wasn’t the first Carrow Road disaster for Carl Ikeme.

Those with decent recall will remember a 5-2 defeat in 2008 when our number one (then number two) dropped the ball into his own net and suffered a torrid evening as Wolves slumped to a rare defeat on their way to winning the title.

The key difference is that yesterday our goalie wasn’t to blame. Wes Hoolahan dived, plain and simple.

You only have to see it back once to observe he was halfway to the ground before making any sort of contact with Ikeme.

And whatever Paul Lambert wants to say about slow starts that was the pivotal moment that took this game away from us.

Yes, Wolves were sluggish and Norwich could have scored two or three before Helder Costa drew us level from the spot.

But with 15 minutes left, they hadn’t taken those chances, Wolves had woken up and were arguably the more likely to make the telling breakthrough.

None of this is to say on the overall balance of play Norwich didn’t merit the three points, just that the key decision went against us and that shouldn’t have been the case.

With all three substitutions used up by the 75 minute mark (quite unusual) Matt Doherty performed manfully between the sticks.

And he in particular was unfortunate to be on the losing side having defended well all afternoon and dragged his team back into the game with a wonderful run for a more obvious spot kick award.

The Portuguese contingent certainly know how to take a penalty. All three have been buried in the side netting or top corner. Long may that continue.

Sadly, in open play our better attacking players didn’t really fire. Mason, Costa, Bodvarsson and Cavaleiro in particular were all well below their usual standard.

Similarly Dicko and Enobakhare found it a struggle to get into the game after coming off the bench. Andreas Weimann did marginally better in a lively second half debut.

So an under par performance that could so easily have merited an unlikely result ahead of next weekend’s trip to Anfield.

Instead, we make the journey to Liverpool (pending appeal) without the man who played the biggest role in getting us there.

And that is most disappointing aspect of all.

Norwich City Vs Wolves Preview

If any Norwich fans are reading this, it’s definitely the worst time of the season to be playing Wolves.

Confidence is high, tails are wagging and Paul Lambert has all sorts of options up his sleeve for his return to Carrow Road.

I don’t think we’re world beaters just yet, even by Championship standards, but after months of struggle, a team is beginning to emerge.

Keeping the momentum going for as long as possible and getting into the top half must be the primary short term objective.

Norwich

Admittedly I didn’t see Norwich’s collapse coming. I occasionally do a podcast where I chat with fans from other clubs and we all thought they’d finish in the top two.

Now it looks like they’ll be lucky to even get anywhere near the top six after a disastrous run of results.

Precisely why they’ve been on the receiving end so many times of late is difficult to pinpoint from the outside looking in.

39 goals conceded probably has quite a lot to do with it, giving them one of the weakest defences in the league.

They’ve scored plenty which is unsurprising with players like Hoolahan, Jerome and Naismith knocking about.

But I suppose if I look down their squad I’m just wondering if many of those players have seen their best days come and go?

Whatever the reason, Alex Neil is well and truly under the cosh for the first time in his short managerial career.

Wolves

Hard to imagine there will be a significant number of changes to the team that saw off Villa.

But I would start with Bodvarsson up front. I think he’s offering a bit more in his all round game than Nouha Dicko.

It will be intriguing to see how Lambert uses Andreas Weimann. Most Villa fans seem to think he should be playing through the middle, even though most of his games have been out wide.

But he’s an energetic, hardworking player, which are both traits of the current team. I’m looking forward to seeing what he can add.

Derby supporters weren’t pleased he’s been allowed to leave suggesting he might have a bit to offer. Lets hope so.

Paul Lambert

Predictions

I really fancy us this weekend, which probably means definite defeat. We don’t get many wins at Carrow Road but this feels like a good opportunity.

Four cleansheets in a row is probably adventurous, particularly against a team who score plenty of goals, but I think we’ll do some damage.

Going all in lads, so don’t let me down – 2-1 to the boys in old gold (or electric green tomorrow).

Up The Wolves!

Wolves Vs Norwich City Preview

If you thought our limp midweek defeat was depressing, spare a thought for Norwich.

 

3-1 up with 20 minutes to go and 3-2 up 5 minutes into injury time, they still found a way to lose it 4-3.

Both teams come into this one licking wounds and craving that immediate response to get their respective promotion ambitions back on track.

Playing late on the Saturday adds that little bit of extra pressure as some of those teams around us will have gathered points and moved further ahead.

Norwich

687px-Norwich_City.svgI was on a Championship podcast last week and said if Newcastle and Norwich went up I’d kill myself. Probably a bit over dramatic on reflection, but I stand by the initial point.

The only teams I don’t want to see getting promoted are those that have just come down. Variety, spice of life and all that. Nothing personal Canaries fans I promise.

Norwich have been down, up, down and chances of another up don’t seem unlikely with Alex Neil maintaining a squad packed with proven Championship quality and a couple of players who have and could still do it in the Prem.

I always thought Dorrans was a good player at the Albion so interested to see if he’s still got something to offer.

Robbie Brady is one of those players who probably could have abandoned ship in the summer and Cameron Jerome loves playing against Wolves.

This promises to be very tough, but away from Carrow Road, I think they can be got at so an entertaining game in prospect.

Wolves

I’ve repeatedly said Jon Dadi Bodvarsson is carrying our team. For all the bits and pieces of quality we’ve seen from others, he’s been the one consistent.

team-for-brentford

If Dadi is anything close to fit we should throw him in as we’re probably snookered without him.

The center halves should hang their head in disappointment over Wigan’s late winner. Batth in particular showed a lack of judgment, pace and strength to allow Grigg the opening. He should have done better.

But I still think they’re the best pairing as Hause or Stearman are both prone to similar lapses. I can see there being a change though.

Midfield might also be freshened up so I’d expect at least one of Saiss, Edwards or Oniangue to get the hook.

Predictions

Score draw for me, on the basis that Dadi is fit enough to make a return. I think we’ll cause Norwich enough grief as they’re not solid defensively. They’ve conceded 14 already.

But we’ll also be vulnerable and they have the attacking players to make us pay. In fact, it’s probably our biggest challenge so far in that respect, certainly at home.

With Villa and Brighton away to come after this, it’s a testing time of the season.

2-2.

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