Spurs 1 Wolves 1

If you could bottle whatever it is that brings out the very best in Wolverhampton Wanderers at White Hart Lane, relegation predicaments would be nothing more than a distant memory.

Indeed, an unsettling whiff of deja vu must have swept like wildfire around the home crowd as the old gold once again supped their half-time cuppa a goal to the good.

Steven Fletcher’s ninth Premier League strike of the season (moving him level with Adebayor and two ahead of Defoe in the top scorer charts incidentally) gave Wolves the lead in this fixture for third consecutive season.

Me again - 3 in 4 against Spurs

One chance, one goal, ruthlessly gobbled up by our increasingly prolific talisman. Yes, it was a tap-in but no coincidence to see him once again emerge from the pack to poke home after Roger Johnson’s towering header was cleared off the line.

Speaking of Johnson, I thought this was one of his best games in a very long while, winning everything in the air and making timely interceptions to break up the free-flowing Spurs attack. That’s what we paid for.

The skipper no doubt benefits more than anyone when the gaffer deploys a 5 man midfield, closing the spaces and making his chronic lack of pace much less of an issue.

And Mick picked a good 5 yesterday I thought.

With Henry and Frimpong offering much needed protection, Edwards, Jarvis and Kightly were all able to get forward to decent effect when the opportunity presented itself.

Finally, some balance.

That theme also applies to the Foley and Kightly (as opposed to Stearman and Hunt) partnership down the right. For the first time in what seems a very long time indeed, we weren’t solely reliant on Jarvis as an outlet ball. I’m praying that continues.

Kightly continued his promising comeback with another hard working display including more sporadic moments of quality. It was lovely to see him cut inside his man in the first half and get a shot away, even if it was scuffed over the bar. The point is, he’s asking questions of the opposition again and trying to make something happen; things Hunt hasn’t been able to do of late.

As a side note, it was curious that Hammill didn’t even make the bench.

I thought Frimpong was immense yesterday, bombing into tackles, using the ball well and even bursting forward to support Fletcher.

That said, Mick was wise to withdraw him when he did as the home crowd definitely smelt blood with the Arsenal loanee on a booking. I would hate to have seen him sent off given that he already looks a vital cog in the midfield engine.

A mention too for Berra, who very rarely gets a nod. In his 100th league appearance for Wolves he did what he so often does these days, heading and kicking everything that came near him and making zero errors. It’s a mantra that has served Jody Craddock well in recent years and encouragingly it seems to have rubbed off on the Scot.

Ultimately though, aside from individual positives it was a disciplined, well-drilled team effort that won us this point. Tottenham poured forward time and time again but Wolves always did enough to slowdown their attacks restricting them to shots from distance for the most part.

Hennessey will probably feel he could and perhaps should have kept Modric’s fierce drive out, but given the quality of the strike and the fact it flew through legs, I think we can let our keeper off the hook. He was otherwise assured once again.

It was probably a measure of Spurs frustration that they felt the need to contest a ridiculous drop ball inside our penalty area late one, despite the fact Wolves clearly had possession of the ball prior to the stop in play.

You can blame the ref all you want, but it was despicably unsportsmanlike behaviour from the Tottenham players in my book.

Thankfully it came to nothing.

And yes, it probably should be noted we got the benefit of a few questionable decisions yesterday, for a change, but after recent events you’ll forgive me if I don’t cry a tear for the opposition.

I doubt they would for us.

Spurs Vs Wolves Preview

When Spurs sauntered into Molineux back in September, they were struggling at the bottom after a tricky start and Wolves were riding high after snaring 7 points from 9.

However, the 2-0 victory Harry’s boys inflicted on us that sunny afternoon proved the catalyst they needed to go on a sensational winning streak, elevating them all the way up to third place in the table.

Losing at the Lane last season

We did actually play well in that match and were more than a little unlucky to lose. However, things deteriorated from that game onwards so it would certainly be fitting if we were to kick-start our faltering season with a big result at White Hart Lane.

And although that seems highly unlikely, recent history at least suggests we shouldn’t give up all hope.

Two years ago we did the double over Spurs, tasting victory on their patch thanks to an early Kevin Doyle goal and the mother of all defensive performances.

We almost repeated the trick last year too, leading 1-0 with 20 minutes to go only to eventually lose out 3-1.

As I write this preview (ahead of their game against Everton this evening) they’ve currently played 9 games at home, won 7, drawn 1 and lost just the once.

Dauntingly, the only points they’ve dropped were against Man City and Chelsea. Gulp.

The Team

I’ve decided to abandon predicting Mick’s team selections from now on, in favour of listing the side I would personally pick.

I would also encourage you to do the same, just so it gives us all something else to kick around in the preview.

So, this is my XI:

Hennessey, Foley, Johnson, Berra, Ward, Frimpong, Henry, Milijas, Kightly, Jarvis, Fletcher

I just think we need to retain possession better than we have been and with only Fletch really doing the business, 451 is the obvious choice for me.

Foley must play at right-back. He’s infinitely better on the ball than Stearman and brings balance to the side.

With Frimpong and Henry anchoring the midfield, I think giving Milijas freedom to wander around and find passes would be a wise move.

The most controversial inclusion is Kightly over Hammill and Hunt.

There’s certainly an element of favouritism in that choice, but neither Hunt or Hammill have done enough for me to suggest giving Kightly a start would be a mistake.

Prediction League

The home defeat to Chelsea seems a lifetime ago now.

Still, 19 people correctly predicted the loss and 6 of those got the scoreline spot-on.

Well done to Hamlet, Ade in China, gebb, Michigan Wolf, Ventura Highway and kinhaven for collecting the maximum 3 points on offer.

Call it foolish optimism if you will, but I just have a suspicion we’ll get something this weekend. We’ve been a bit of a bogey side for Spurs in recent years and I can see that continuing.

I’ll go the whole hog too – 2-1 Wolves.

If you’re heading to the Lane on Saturday, have a great time and get behind the lads as you always do.

Up The Wolves.

* Just a reminder that Wolves Blog are raising money for Acorns Children’s Hospice by taking part in the March to Molineux event. If you can spare a few pennies, I would be chuffed to get your support. You can donate by clicking here.

Wolves 0 Spurs 2

If you can look back on a loss and fail to criticise a single player, it’s safe to assume there can’t have been too much wrong with the team performance.

This was a close game, for the most part, between two Premier League sides.

Breakthrough

The general quality of football was good, but I have no problem with admitting Spurs were that little bit more incisive in the final third, which ultimately decided the outcome.

I felt that without Jarvis in the side, we lacked pace and genuine width. Hunt and Kightly, both neat and tidy, seemed to prefer coming inside to get involved with the play. Both delivered telling crosses from set pieces, but neither were able to really test their full-back and carve out an opening.

Some felt Henry had a poor game, but I personally thought he did pretty well. Yes, he was caught in possession once or twice, but his interchange with O’Hara was generally impressive and his driving run forward early in the first half – which ended with Friedel turning his fine solo effort wide of the post – was a firm two fingers up to anyone who suggests he’s a midfielder of limited ability.

O’Hara was also heavily involved against his former club and I think he can feel satisfied enough with his contribution, although he might be disappointed not to have seen more of the ball in and around the penalty area.

When you consider that our midfield two were up against Parker and Modric, I was pleasantly surprised by how well they not only competed, but moved the ball around and asked questions of their illustrious opposition. Maybe 442 can work all season after all?

Up top, Fletcher and Doyle both did their jobs, although neither were able to threaten Friedel’s goal.

I felt Doyle in particular had a great game, holding the ball up, twisting and turning away from defenders and finding simple passes to feet. The only problem was, his best work was often 40 yards away from goal or out wide where he’d drifted out to find space.

It’s so difficult to knock a player of his ability but I’d definitely sacrifice some of the stylish interplay to see more of him inside the box getting on the end of crosses.

At the other end of the pitch, I think the back four and goalkeeper can all take a lot of positives despite shipping two goals.

Hennessey was largely untroubled up until Spurs made the breakthrough, save for one smart first half save, which Stearman completed with a superb goal line clearance.

The Welshman couldn’t be blamed for the goals either, left woefully exposed as both Defoe and Adebayor found ample space inside the box and applied cool finishes on both occasions.

The defence will no doubt be upset to have been undone twice, but overall they should be commended for running a tight ship.

Johnson was imperious in the air and made a handful of superb interceptions. During the first half as we hassled and harried Spurs high up the field – stealing possession in dangerous areas – it was the skipper who played an important role in pinning them back.

Berra was even better for me, going about his business with quiet aplomb and looking assured throughout. He nearly scored too with a towering first half header that was agonisingly cleared off the line, denying the Scot his first Premier League goal.

The full backs both did very little wrong and restricted the dangerous Bale to a bit-part contribution.

Stearman and Ward have found consistency to match their effort, turning in the kind of reliable 7/10 performances you want in those positions; something the likes of Elokobi and Zubar have too often failed to achieve.

All of this combined; the arrival of Johnson, his effect on Berra, the marked-improvement and consistency of the full-backs, has made Wolves a more organised and stable unit. Long may it continue.

Of course, it’s impossible to claim all is well after a disappointing loss.

Indeed, the lack of cutting edge in the final third and the worrying dearth of cover up front have certainly provided some food for thought.

But when you’ve got eleven guys out there giving everything and showing encouraging signs of improvement, it’s tremendously difficult to lambaste them for the odd moment of slackness.

QPR next weekend will act as a far better barometer of what we can expect from this season.

And if we can turn in the kind of performance we did in this match, I don’t think we’ll go too far wrong.

Bring it on.