Wolves 2 QPR 1

There was a time, not so long ago in fact, that practically every victory played out like this one.

Buttocks clenched tight as crosses rain down in the final moments, stray passes being intercepted in dangerous areas of the pitch and a goalkeeper with sudden onset butter fingers.

We’ve been spoilt this season with Premier League quality, but that second half was real Championship fare.

By the finish QPR can count themselves unlucky not to have taken a point.

Ruddy for all his juggling, produced one fine save to keep his team ahead and Conor Coady performed his trademark goal line heroics as Wolves hobbled over the line.

A thrilling climax that never should have materialised after a first half in which the league leaders established clear water.

Two well worked goals, a hatful of chances wasted and barely out of second gear. Things have never felt easier.

Maybe that was the problem?

But if complacency contributed, Ian Holloway must take credit for whatever he said and did at half time.

Big Matt Smith came on and won everything, they pressed higher and harder and once the door creaked open, they were hammering to get through.

Nuno will be disappointed by the goal conceded. Nobody was switched on for the short corner and after Ruddy clawed out the first attempt, his defence were second to the rebound.

After that it was real helter-skelter stuff with hooped shirts swarming all over the pitch and cross after cross after long throw after cross had to be repelled.

The whole side looked unusually ruffled but credit to Boly, Coady and in particular Bennett who stood up strong to the bombardment.

Midfield was where this game turned. Once we’d stopped controlling possession, it gave QPR a foothold to launch diagonal balls forward.

Saiss would have been the man to bring on, but with the Moroccan still absent it fell on Gibbs-White to help plug the gaps. He’s a talented technician but wasn’t the answer to the problem.

Wolves were still, as always, dangerous on the break and could have got the resistance killing goal had Afobe or Jota found the finish.

But it mattered not, ultimately, with the 70 point barrier now in the rear view mirror.

It’s all still firmly in our hands and nerves, thankfully, are for days gone by.

Wolves Vs QPR Preview

After dispatching Sheffield Utd, there are now only three teams yet to suffer a league defeat at the hands of Wolves this season.

QPR are one of them.

You couldn’t begrudge them the victory at Loftus Road back in October. They didn’t park the bus. Far from it in fact. They kept pushing and got their reward.

That was the game that convinced Nuno changes needed to be made at the back. Out went Miranda and Batth and in came Boly and Bennett.

We’ve been stronger for that decision ever since.

QPR

Rangers are that team that went big and couldn’t see it through. If they’d been able to sustain their Premier League status longer, they might still be paying out silly fees and silly wages.

As it is, they’re now having to cut their cloth and even that is probably an understatement.

Survival and stability are the order of the day and in that sense you probably can’t grumble about the job Ian Holloway is doing with modest resources.

They’re 10 points clear of the relegation zone and will be in the Championship again next season. More recently, they’ve won three of their last five so come into this one in decent form.

That said, their away form is atrocious. Just 11 points yielded from 15 matches. Only two wins to go with five draws and eight defeats.

Wolves

Same again yeah?

I remember watching Man Utd in their pomp and Ferguson would just keep turning up the heat if the game wasn’t going their way, introducing more and more attackers from the bench.

With the likes of Bonatini, Afobe and Bright waiting in the wings, Nuno can do the same if this one is getting away from us. That’s reassuring.

Helder Costa has rediscovered his swagger of late and that makes the front three a truly terrifying combination.

Worth noting we’ve scored the most goals and conceded the fewest, so it’s still very much a team effort.

Prediction

I expect us to win and logic dictates we should do so comfortably. The Forest game is still fresh in the memory though and proof positive if you don’t reach the levels, you can be found out by anyone.

There should be a spring in the step though after last Saturday’s heroics and a week to rest up, so I don’t anticipate a blip.

I’ll go for a 2-0.

Three more points. One game less. Keep it going lads.

Up The Wolves!

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QPR Vs Wolves Preview

Pep Guardiola’s comments about the ball after Tuesday night were ill-judged.

Not least because it revealed he hadn’t even heard of Mitre. Call yourself a football man.

More seriously, I don’t understand how he can say it was ‘impossible to score’ after his team effortlessly dispatched four penalties.

Both teams were spraying the ball around the pitch all night and if you can play a 30 yard pass, you can certainly stroke the ball into the goal from inside the penalty area.

Even if the ball is a bit naff, I thought it lacked class to make those comments in the immediate aftermath of the game, particularly as he gave Wolves no credit at all for their performance.

QPR

Back in the real world QPR haven’t won any of their last 7 matches, turning a solid start into a rapid slide down the table.

Looking at some of their fixtures, they can hardly bemoan tough opposition either. Bolton, Sunderland, Burton and Barnsley have all taken points off the Rs in what’s been a disappointing spell for Ian Holloway’s side.

Too many draws has been the problem. Nearly half their games have ended in stalemate, which is reflected in their scored 16, conceded 17 stats.

They’re not particularly prolific or miserly in defence. They just look, on paper at least, very, very average.

Individually, they’ve got a few players I’ve always liked. Jamie Mackie, Massimo Luongo and Jake Bidwell are all proven Championship performers and in previous years I’d be weary about their collective qualities.

Interesting to see they’ve been stung with a huge fine (£40 million reported) for their cavalier attitude towards Financial Fair Play following their previous Championship promotion campaign.

That kind of walloping great payout will surely restrict their ability to grow in the seasons to come? Hopefully we don’t end up in the same ship.

Wolves

If you’re one of those ‘the league is all that matters’ people then Tuesday must have been pretty splendid. Most of the key men were rested and many of the others only played a supporting role.

Ruddy, Douglas, Doherty, Neves, Saiss and Jota didn’t play a single minute between them. Cavaleiro and Bonatini enjoyed breezy cameos without overly extending themselves.

I don’t know what’s happened to Willy Boly as I expected him to start at the Etihad, so perhaps he’s being saved with a view to slotting back in tomorrow? Unless I’ve missed something about an injury setback.

If the above guesswork proves accurate, Conor Coady will be the only marathon man asked to back up his exploits in the cup with another performance tomorrow. I wouldn’t back against him.

Predictions

The Championship is rarely predictable but we should win this game. Looking ahead to the Norwich fixture and next Friday’s game against Fulham as a block of three, this looks the most straightforward task.

Looking at the odds at Betway, Wolves are being offered at 23/20 for the win so the bookies are confident of us taking the points.

I don’t mean any disrespect to QPR, but looking at where they are currently, our playing squad and how much we have in reserve, the logical conclusion is a Wolves victory.

Even though they’re overdue a good result and perhaps a bit of luck, I think we’ll get it done.

3-1.

Up The Wolves!