Wolves 1 QPR 2

I’m not sure I agree with Paul Lambert’s assertion that this was the best we’ve played since he’s been in charge, but the numbers are compelling.

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62% possession and 15 more shots on goal than QPR. On paper at least, we probably should have won and almost certainly shouldn’t have lost.

But Lambert will know his side are far too soft-centered and that must be addressed in January if they’re to be upwardly mobile over the second half of the campaign.

The team is jam packed with attacking talent, so we have to expect there will be space for the opposition to exploit, but even so the manner of the goals being conceded is galling.

Both of Bristol City’s strikes on Boxing Day were easily preventable had Stearman and Batth defended with greater authority. But neither of those finishes highlighted the physical defiencies of our center halves quite to the extent as QPR’s winner yesterday.

Pawel Wszolek simply steamrollered through both of them before prodding in what has to be the softest goal of the Championship season to date. Watch it below and tell me if you disagree.

Jack Price, who was outstanding in possession it must be said, can also take a slice of the blame for both concessions. He didn’t do enough to stop the cross coming in for Idrissa Sylla’s well taken opener and was out-muscled in the build up to the second.

Muscle is exactly what we need. Probably a bit more in midfield and significantly more in defence. Mike Williamson could be a short term fix but even he might benefit from a more commanding partner.

More encouragingly up the pitch, some of the interplay between our creative players is very good and had either Dicko or Enobokhare converted their one-on-ones to give Wolves a deserved first half lead, the game would have panned out differently.

But Dicko’s rustiness and Enobokhare’s inexperience are the exact reason we must also look to bring in that most priceless of assets – a goalscoring center forward.

You genuinely feel someone like a Jordan Rhodes would run riot with the current supply line from Costa and Cavaleiro, even if the latter’s final ball so often leaves much to be desired.

Again, a fit and firing Dicko or Bodvarsson have shown previously they can provide what’s required, but it’s not happening for either of them at this current juncture, so other options must be explored. We can’t wait forever.

Whether we can attract a proven Championship poacher to come to a team in the bottom half of the table is another matter entirely. Perhaps if we sell the dream of next season?

In the here and now we’re staring down the barrel of a daunting run of fixtures. Sheffield Wednesday away is as difficult as they come and with games to follow against Villa, Norwich and Huddersfield in January, this clumsy slip-up may soon appear more costly than originally anticipated.

A ball has yet to be kicked in 2017 and it already feels like another journey into the unknown. As usual, we’ll try to enjoy it.

Happy New Year to one and all!

Highlights

Wolves Vs QPR Preview

In a typically flamboyant interview with Gary Lineker earlier this year, Jurgen Klopp gave a brief insight into his footballing philosophies.

One of the tidbits that stuck with me was when he said his main objective was to have ‘memorable games in a row‘, adding:  ‘you (the fans) leave the stadium and you want to see the next game. You can’t wait for the next game‘.

Paul Lambert seems to have taken a leaf out of the German’s book with the last two home matches anything but forgettable. I can’t wait for the next one.

Interesting also to note it was the Scot pulling the troops together at full time on Boxing Day to get the Thunder Clap going in front of a packed out South Bank.

There’s no doubt Lambert is going the extra mile. Sitting down with supporters whenever he gets the chance, listening, engaging and pretty much doing anything within his power to get Molineux bouncing.

If you expected defensive and dour, what we’ve been served up of late is anything but. Long may it continue.

QPR

Things certainly haven’t been dull at Loftus Road since Ian Holloway returned but an upturn in entertainment value hasn’t equated to an upturn in results. Quite the opposite in fact. The Hoops come into this fixture on a six game losing run.

Wolves inflicted one of those defeats and I felt in that particular contest they paid the price for the manager’s attacking impulses.

They could have shut up shop after going down to 10 men but instead kept things very open and were eventually picked off by the extra man.

On a more positive note they fought right to the end and nearly pulled off an unlikely comeback suggesting they’re not a team to just lay down and die.

Scoring goals has been the problem. With only 20 on the board (averaging less than a goal a game), they’re the joint lowest scorers in the league.

It was another blank and another sending off against Brighton on Tuesday. As such captain Nedum Onuoha will sit out this one after being the latest QPR man to take an early shower.

Wolves

Same again for Paul Lambert? It’s hardly been a taxing festive programme so no obvious reason to change a team that’s secured back-to-back victories.

It’s difficult to see the above eleven not creating chances with so much pace and ability across the front line.

Cavaleiro has stepped up his game and been excellent in his last two home performances. When you’ve got wingers causing problems down both flanks it stretches the game and that’s exactly what’s happened of late.

With Dicko still not scoring there’s an argument to give Jon Dadi Bodvarsson another run in the team, but the former’s performances and all round play have been improving so he’s worth persevering with. We all know what he can do at the top of his game.

Defensively you could change the personnel but it would be the same individuals who’ve shipped goals all season. I think we need to look outwardly to solve the problem.

Predictions

If ever you were going to predict a victory it would be now. QPR are sinking, their skipper is suspended and they haven’t scored a single goal in their last four matches.

Wolves should be full of confidence and starting to look up the table now there’s a comfortable buffer below.

Things seldom go to plan in games like this but I’d like to think we’ll once again do enough going forward to get the job done.

3-1.

Up The Wolves!

QPR 1 Wolves 2

I’m inclined to call this a victory for the old and the new.

 
The goals symbolic of the performance.

Firstly, great interplay between Iorfa and Doherty allowed that man Edwards to profit as the old guard kicked down the door.

Then a sumptuous cross field pass from Saiss released Costa and the Portuguese man did the rest with a dazzling dribble and finish.

This was how it was supposed to be wasn’t it? The marriage of Championship grit to continental flair.

OK, it was against 10 men and we nearly contrived to throw it away in the final minutes, but at last – something to feel good about.

It was ridiculous QPR even had a sniff given that Wolves squandered several golden opportunities to make it three, four or five before a late scramble caused predictable panic.

Thankfully we didn’t pay for that wastefulness and now have the invaluable building block of a first win in ten matches to begin reconstructing the season.

Paul Lambert obviously saw the same game we all did at the weekend and acted accordingly with wholesale changes to the team.

It’s safe to say Ikeme, Batth, Saiss, Cavaleiro and Dicko brought greater balance to the team than the five who made way.

Ikeme was quick off his line several times in contrast to Lonergan at the weekend. Lets hope the injury isn’t serious.

Batth was solid and dependable, making one fine block in the first half from a goal bound effort that may have altered the course of the game.

Saiss provided a much needed calm head and eye for a pass, particularly after the break when Wolves were struggling to find a rhythm.

The Moroccan’s ball for Costa’s goal was exactly what the team lacked in central areas against Sheffield Wednesday.

Cavaleiro submitted another hit and miss contribution but brought much needed trickery and adventure down the left.

Even in his most frustrating moments, our record signing offers glimpses of the player he could become with a pinch more confidence and a sustained starting berth.

With Jon Dadi Bodvarsson struggling for form, Nouha Dicko was handed a start and looked sharper than he has for a good while.

Much like Cavaleiro, his mere presence is enough to make defenders back off a yard for fear of being caught out by raw pace.

Bodvarsson was dangerous after his introduction but couldn’t find the finish to match the ridiculously good turn that got him a clear run on goal.

Whether it’s the Icelander, Dicko or someone else, getting our strikers scoring goals will likely be the difference between a relegation scrap and upward mobility.

We certainly can’t rely on Costa and Edwards to continually produce the goods.

But that’s for another day. In the immediate can just savour the bonus of a victory for the old and the new at a time when any victory would do.

QPR Vs Wolves Preview

‘Streetwise’ was the buzzword for Paul Lambert after the Sheffield Wednesday debacle.

We do need to be more streetwise but I think there are far more fundamental issues the head coach must address, some of which were of his own making on Saturday.

In simple terms, the team was unbalanced. Saville on left, Coady and Edwards in the middle – it was too cautious, too safe, too much about destruction and not enough about playing football to be effective.

With the game already lost at the interval his changes were equally perplexing; Connor Coady ending up on the right side of midfield for example.

There are two or three players who must come back into contention, but most important of all is a team selection that offers enough going in both directions.

QPR

512px-Queensparkrangersfclogo.svgJimmy Floyd Hasselbaink survived being embroiled in the corruption sting a few months back but floating around in midtable was deemed unacceptable.

One QPR supporter I heard speaking about his departure wasn’t unhappy to see the Dutchman go, saying the football was tedious at best. Seems to be familiar theme.

Tedious isn’t a word you can use to describe Ian Holloway or the teams he manages, so one imagines more exciting times lay ahead.

The encouraging debut win over Norwich was followed by a 3-0 thumping at Ipswich last weekend so the rollercoaster is already well and truly in motion.

It’s three wins, three draws and three defeats from their home games thus far, with 14 goals conceded (only Rotherham and Barnsley have shipped more) so Loftus Road far from a fortress.

As well as Karl Henry they have two forwards Wolves were heavily linked to last season in Conor Washington and Idrissa Sylla. In another twist, QPR came close to signing Bodvarsson in the summer before Wolves upped the anti and won that particular race.

Wolves

There’s a generally accepted idea that last season’s players are reliable and will run around, whereas the new crop don’t put in the hard yards but are more technically blessed.

team-for-qpr

But I disagree that it has to be one group or the other. There needs to be a mix. The above eleven (with the exception of Stearman) is the team that won our last two matches against Newcastle and Brentford. Predominantly new players.

Equally, the other two wins we’ve managed against Reading and Blues came with Walter Zenga using last season’s squad with the addition of Bodvarsson. But that team was more balanced than Saturday with the likes of Mason and Wallace heavily involved.

And that’s what it comes back to – balance. We’ve got to get a mixture of qualities into the team rather than just setting up camp to be difficult to breakdown and hoping for the best.

For me, Hause and Iorfa are making far too many clumsy mistakes in and out of possession to be considered. Saville and Coady should also be replaced for more forward thinking alternatives.

Ikeme should also be back in goal without question. Lonergan was slow off his line in the build up to the second goal and although he’s capable of making some fine blocks, Ikeme is the more reliable all round performer.

Paul Lambert

Predictions

Tough to foresee anything other than defeat after the misery of the weekend. My fear is that the defeat sends Lambert deeper into his shell in terms of team selection.

He’s talked about taking risks, going for it and playing on the front foot, which is all great. But you’ve got to have the footballers on the pitch who can do the damage. We didn’t have that Saturday.

I think QPR are very hit and miss, so hopefully we can at least capitalise on a few of their frailties while trying to disguise our own.

1-1.

Up The Wolves!

QPR 1 Wolves 1

In many ways, Rajiv Van La Parra is the ideal emblem for our current side – undoubtedly talented but perennially inconsistent.

Woves celebrate QPR

Today the occasionally flying Dutchman enjoyed one of his better days in a gold and black shirt.

A constant menace to a laboured Paul Konchesky, he gave the team a focal point that allowed them to grow in confidence after a disastrous start to proceedings at Loftus Road.

Danny Batth’s needless foul gave the home side a chance to put our defence under pressure. It was an opportunity that the gargantuan Sebastian Polter accepted gleefully, heading crisply past a helpless Carl Ikeme.

That set the tone for a first half that highlighted our dearth of resources, with our main tactic comprising of aimless long balls to a vertically challenged striker.

To be fair to Adam Le Fondre, he was only asked to play the fruitless lone striker role that Benik Afobe occupied before his recent departure.

Speaking of Afobe, unsurprising to see that we’ve yet to reinvest any of the healthy profit we made from his sale. One can’t help but wonder if that would have been the case if we were still flirting with relegation?

Given the way that the club has been run since our brief foray into League One, it seems fair to assume there’s no intention to spend now that safety has been all but assured.

In some respects, a transfer market splurge during the financially imprudent month of January could be considered ill advised.

The squad is crying out for reinforcements – of that there can be no doubt – but we’re unlikely to land our top targets (whoever they may be) at a time when most teams still have something left to play for.

If waiting until the summer means seeing some quality additions being made to our already promising side, then I’m all for it.

But the realist in me says that the only place the Afobe money’s going is into another admirable but ultimately ill advised real estate project such as the recently opened The Way.

Considering there hasn’t been a whiff of interest from prospective buyers of the club, that’s a sobering outlook for the immediate future.

Still, best to concentrate on the positives and our second half performance certainly fits that description.

Other than a late scare, we controlled the game against much more experienced opposition and would have won comfortably were it not for the stellar defending of Grant Hall and Nedum Onuoha.

A crumb of comfort to cling on to until we reconvene against the league’s bottom club, who’ve already beaten us once this season.

Here’s hoping we’ll be cheering at least one new signing onto the pitch by then – let’s not hold our breath though.

QPR Vs Wolves Preview

I really don’t want to labour the point, but I still don’t get why Benik Afobe was allowed to leave so early in the transfer window.

QPR Wolves

Even if the intention was always to sell, surely the club should have stalled him until they’d circled in on a viable replacement?

Because they didn’t, the last fortnight has felt like take two of the infamous post-McCarthy managerial debacle.

And with every passing day you fear the end result will be another Terry Connor – an also-ran from the squad hailed as the answer to all our problems.

Even Dave Edwards reckons we’re lucky to be 10th with the players we’ve got and that says everything about the club’s rapidly deteriorating ambitions.

QPR

512px-Queensparkrangersfclogo.svgQPR sold Charlie Austin last weekend and less than three days later had wrapped up a deal for reported Wolves target Conor Washington as his replacement.

We all know QPR haven’t been the most responsibly governed club in recent years, but on this occasion they appear to have employed a much smarter game plan.

They enter this contest three points and five places behind Wolves, but buoyed by their first victory under Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink last Saturday and the arrival of their new striker.

Loftus Road has hardly been a fortress this season, with only four home victories so far, but they have only lost twice there in 13 games.

They’ll need Washington to produce the goods as without Charlie Austin’s goals, they’ve often looked shy at the business end of the pitch.

Karl Henry remains a regular in the Hoops starting lineup and he’ll be hoping to make it a league double over his old team.

Wolves

With Michal Zyro ruled out, Kenny Jackett will have to decide between Adam Le Fondre and Bjorn Sigurdarson. There’s also the gaping hole left by Jordan Graham’s season ending injury to resolve.

Wolves team for QPR

Although Siggy might be consider the more like-for-like replacement, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Le Fondre given the nod, possibly with van La Parra dropping back to fill Jordan Graham’s position.

James Henry would then be the logical selection on the opposite flank but Nathan Byrne might also enter the manager’s thinking. He’s yet to be given a sustained run out.

Personally, I’d like to see Wolves being more compact and difficult to breakdown again on Saturday. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but I think if we go there more open, as we did against Cardiff and Fulham, it will suit the home side better.

The gaffer

Predictions

If I was feeling dead pessimistic, I’d go for a 2-0 defeat with a debut Washington strike and a late 30 yard scorcher from Karl, but surely life isn’t quite that cruel?

I do think we’ll lose though, just taking everything into equation.

I’ll go for 2-1.

Up The Wolves!