Swansea City 2 Wolves 1

The dream is over for another year.

But this low key exit is barely a blip on my radar. In truth, I’m pleased to be rid of the distraction.

Whereas last time out the FA Cup represented a welcome vacation from our depressingly poor efforts in the league, this season I viewed it as a pointless detour.

I wanted to win, but with danger lurking around every corner, a clean and swift eliminiation wasn’t unappealing.

Jota’s introduction last night had me hiding behind the sofa and I spent the final half hour preying our star man wouldn’t come a cropper in the tornado-like conditions.

Thankfully he didn’t and with a bit more luck his heroic cameo may have been enough to see us through. But it didn’t and the point I’m labouring is that we shouldn’t waste time pining over what might have been.

We have to think bigger.

There is a unique opportunity within our grasp to not only regain Premier League status, but truly make it stick. This squad and manager, backed by ambitious owners and high profile contacts can take us places.

And if it plays out as it should, there will be plenty of opportunities for cup runs in the years to come.

In isolation I think this defeat served as a useful reminder to Nuno that his squad aren’t infallible, particularly the second string.

The defence has been the bedrock of our success this year, but the back three were far too easily breached. Hause in particular had a night to forget.

Gibbs-White and N’Diaye both bring admirable qualities, but neither are Ruben Neves. Neither can do what he does. We shouldn’t have expected the same kind of fluency through the middle.

And up top, the cutting edge simply isn’t there when Jota and Cavaleiro aren’t in the team. They are the players sticking the ball in the net or putting it on a plate for others.

But I’m not downbeat. Quite the opposite in fact.

We can only beat ourselves and with one less distraction, it’s a direct sprint to the finish line. Lets bring it home.

Swansea City Vs Wolves Preview

The cup competitions have highlighted just how much Wolves have progressed this season.

Without using hardly any of his key performers, Nuno has routinely taken on Premier League opposition and emerged in credit every time.

Yes, you can point to a good FA Cup run last year, but that was real backs to the wall stuff. Wolves have taken the game to the opposition more this time.

Swansea were lucky to get this replay on the balance of chances created, despite enjoying a numerical advantage for a good chunk of the game at Molineux.

Tonight’s winner is rewarded with a fourth round tie at Notts County.

Swansea

The Swans took a useful point away to Newcastle on Saturday, but left disappointed it wasn’t two wins in two league matches for Carlos Carvalhal.

They should been given a penalty that would have also resulted in a straight red for Mo Diame, but the handball was missed by the officials. VAR anyone?

But having taken the lead anyway in the final third of the game, they can only blame themselves for not hanging on.

With West Brom and Bournmouth both winning, they’re still rooted to the bottom and four points from safety. It’s a tall order for them to stay up. Not impossible, but very tough.

After this game they’ve got home games against Liverpool and Arsenal, so all the more reason to rest their best and brightest. I don’t think they’ll be overly disappointed if they’re eliminated.

Wolves

Looking back at the highlights on Saturday, Wolves did enough to get the win. Having watched the game, it was a scrappy old affair, but when you see the chances back-to-back you realise we were the dominant force.

Still, it’s going to be all change tonight. Batth is back from his suspension so will likely start. Miranda has been frozen out lately too so might get some game time in a second-string back three.

Wing-backs are tricky with Vinagre out and no immediate cover for Doherty. Marshall is an option but he looks like he’s heading for the exit. Our first choice picks may have to fill in.

Jordan Graham is back from the wilderness of Fulham reserves, so must be another contender. Not sure where he slots in though. Perhaps down the left instead of Costa in the above lineup.

Mir should get a start. Why not?

Predictions

This one could go in any direction, but based on the first match I’ll back us for a win.

2-1.

Impossible to say with any certainty given that both teams will use their squad and it then just becomes a case of who gels better. Hopefully it’s us as victory here opens up a good opportunity to make it into round five.

Up The Wolves!

Wolves 0 Swansea City 0

Given the contrasting fortunes of the two teams, the scene was set for an upset.

Considering the paucity of the Swans’ current team, it would hardly have been a giant killing but the prospect of putting Premier League opposition to the sword was enticing nonetheless.

Unfortunately, some goalkeeping heroics from Kristoffer Nordfeldt deprived us of that opportunity.

Even the most ardent of opposition supporters would agree that this was a game bossed by the home side.

Frankly, we looked streets ahead of Carlos Carvalhal’s team at times and should have been a goal up well in advance of the first contentious decision of the day.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, it was the ever mercurial Bright Enobakhare that was guilty of spurning the best of a few good goalscoring opportunities.

With the goal seemingly at his mercy courtesy of a rather frenetic first half defensive scramble, he contrived to screw the ball wide.

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It was a glaring blemish on an otherwise enterprising performance, and will no doubt have given Nuno food for thought about where the young forward fits into his long term strategy. Perhaps a loan move would iron out some of the shortcomings that are currently holding him back?

Other fringe players that impressed were Alfred N’Diaye, who did a first rate job of playing the midfield destroyer role. What a complement it is to Ruben Neves and Romain Saiss that he can’t get into the eleven on a regular basis.

Alongside him in midfield was our World Cup winning prodigy Morgan Gibbs-White, who thrilled the home crowd with some really enterprising play that included one truly delicious ball over the top of Swansea’s defence.

Sadly, his was a performance we weren’t able to enjoy for long due to Anthony Taylor’s decision to give Ruben Vinagre his marching orders for a dangerous but unintentional foul on Nathan Dyer.

Vinagre was later joined by Leroy Fer, who saw red for a petulant but ultimately harmless flick of the leg after a mightily impressive Helder Costa managed to evade his initial tackle.

Like many, I at first thought that Vinagre had been most unlucky to be given his marching orders but video replays have proved the decision to be an astute one.

That being said, I will point out that various Wolves players, though mostly Diogo Jota, have been on the receiving end of far worse tackles this season and the culprits – whether playing for Cardiff, Birmingham, Preston or otherwise – have gone unpunished. I’ve no issue with our players being corrected when they fall out of line but find the inconsistency in decision making most frustrating, as I suspect Nuno does too.

That frustrating sideshow aside, it was perhaps the performance of Costa which was the most notable feature of this stalemate.

After a stop-start first half of the season which so recently featured a truly dire showing in our triumph at Bristol City, the winger was back to his diminutive best and often careened past the opposition backline in a manner akin to last season’s vintage.

Hopefully it’s a level he can sustain as competition for places are only set to increase up front on account of the exciting addition of Rafa Mir to our ranks. Though limited to a cameo today, the Spaniard looks as if he possesses the physical attributes needed to add further variety to our attacking play.

Despite the presence of Mir, Costa and Cavaleiro, however, this tie fizzled out into somewhat of a damp squib that is likely to be remembered best for the two sendings off.

Still, encouragement should still be taken from the fact that we once again more than held our own against top flight opposition – albeit one that is likely to be swapping places with us at the season’s end.