Wolves 2 Watford 2

If Troy Deeney’s equaliser proves the difference between success and failure in the hunt for a top six finish, Kenny Jackett will be tremendously disappointed.

Henry Watford

Having twice maneuvered themselves into a winning position against a good Watford outfit, Wolves were twice caught out by routine balls over the top.

Matej Vydra’s smart finish was more palatable given that it capped a swift counter attack and the forward’s pace took him away from the challenges.

But the long old hoof that dissected Batth and Stearman and allowed Deeney to tie things up again in a feisty second half was simply poor defending.

On the balance of play, a draw was a fair reflection of proceedings, with Wolves in the ascendancy for much of the first half and the visitors enjoying the better of the second.

Benik Afobe personified the performance of his team, starting off strongly but then fading after the break when starved of supply.

The former Arsenal man must be frustrated that two excellent goals in two games have only yielded a single point.

Unerring would be an apt description of Afobe’s seventh goal for the club in just 11 appearances. Will he still be around next season if Wolves can only offer second tier football?

Kevin McDonald is another who can feel pretty satisfied with his efforts of late. If Afobe’s two finishes yesterday and in midweek were good, the passes that teed them up were sublime.

There can be no denying the Scot plays his best football when teamed with the steady and reassuring presence of Jack Price.

Speaking of the bearded one, I’m sure when he dreamed about his first senior goal he didn’t envisage a shot deflecting in off his rear end.

But I think he deserved that good fortune for another mature performance. Simple passes, key interceptions and positional awareness aren’t glamorous but they’re important.

He also cut down Fernando Forestieri in the dying seconds as the forward charged towards goal looking to win the game moments after conning the referee into dismissing Bakary Sako.

The Italian decided to act like he’d been shot in the face after being pushed in the chest. One would hope that has a chance of being overturned.

Losing Sako for 30% of the remaining games would be a major blow despite a low key performance yesterday.

Anything and everything seemed to go through van La Parra, who continues to excite and frustrate in equal measure. But there’s no doubting his ability.

Like the mercurial winger, Wolves need to take all the positive attributes they possess and hone them into consistency.

With difficult fixtures and intense competition for places, even that might not quite be enough.

Highlights

1,000 not out

If you’ll forgive the self-indulgence this is actually the 1,000th blog in the history of the site, which is something Ben and I celebrated with a few post-match pints yesterday. With over 57,000 comments in that time, it’s clear there’s much more happening than just our posts, so this is another opportunity to say a massive thanks to everyone. Here’s to 1,000 more.

Wolves VS Watford Preview

I don’t like to blame defeats on decisions but it’s not unfair to suggest we didn’t get the rub of the green in midweek.

Stearman’s tackle that resulted in Bournemouth’s second half penalty was outside the box.

That decision came at the worst possible moment after Wolves had fought their way back into the match and appeared to be in the ascendency.

In a league where the margins between victory and defeat are wafer thin already, sheer misfortune can be more damaging than anything to do with performance levels.

This game now takes on epic proportions for the remainder of Wolves’ season. They need a win, but they daren’t lose.

Watford

431px-Watford.svgWith so much managerial upheaval and the generally strange setup at Watford these days, it goes to show there’s no set template for success. It’s just whatever works.

The Hornets are flying. 8 wins in their last 10 matches have propelled them to within a point of the Championship’s summit.

It’s been goals galore all season at Vicarage Road. They’ve scored 70 in 35 matches and when you’re averaging 2 goals a game, it’s tough for the opposition to cope.

They’ve got three good strikers all sky high on confidence in Troy Deeney, Matej Vydra and Odion Ighalo. Keeping them out will in itself be a tough ask.

That said, Wolves managed a cleansheet in the reverse fixture on Boxing Day and deservedly brought home the three points.

Watford

You certainly can’t accuse Kenny Jackett of not going for it against Bournemouth. He picked a pacy, attacking side and went all out to try and get the win.

Wolves team Bournemouth

The major plus was another goal for Benik Afobe, showing he can score in the big fixtures, which might come in handy as Wolves enter the home stretch.

Tomorrow promises to be a fascinating contest as Watford certainly aren’t the type of side to park up inside their own half. I think they’ll be quite open, so it’s just a case of how the manager chooses to combat that.

In the last home match against Fulham he sacrificed a winger and played Jack Price tucked in on the right. It wouldn’t surprise me if he repeated the trick again.

The gaffer

High5it

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I had an email this week from tomorrow’s main match sponsor ‘High5it‘, which is an app (available on Android and iPhones) that collates votes from fans on which players have performed well.

During and after the matches you can (as well as voting yourself) keep track of who the fans generally feel is having (or had) a good game. It’s a great way to see if your views generally tally with that of other supporters.

To incentivise Wolves fans to get involved, if they use the app during a Wolves game and ‘High 5’, they’ll be entered into a competition to win the chance to play at Molineux when the season has finished.

I’ve got the app and will be giving it a whirl tomorrow and I encourage you to do so too. Technology is gradually influencing events on the pitch and I think this is a neat idea for fans to use it in the stands. Find out more on their website here or search your app store for ‘High5it’.

Predictions

I said 4 points would be a good return from the two matches against Bournemouth and Watford, but realistically 3 points is probably the minimum requirement now.

A draw tomorrow wouldn’t be a disaster but at some point we have to beat a couple of the teams above us to claw back the ground and at the same time drive a dagger into the heart of their progress.

I think it will be an open, free flowing game tomorrow and goals seem inevitable. We’ve generally fared pretty well in the more open games, but we may have met our match.

Sitting on the fence with a 2-2.

Up The Wolves!

Watford 0 Wolves 1

It’s fitting that on a cold and wet Boxing Day evening Wolves had the appearance of contenders.

Wolves Watford

Fast out of their corner and first to the punch, they dominated the early exchanges without landing a meaningful blow.

Hause, van La Parra and Edwards were all denied by Gomes before the returning Nouha Dicko hooked wide when presented with a clear opening.

But the punchy forward’s presence was enough to help put Watford on the back foot throughout, holding the ball up one minute before running in behind the next.

His goal, following a wonderful burst of speed by the impressive van La Parra, was just reward for a Man of the Match performance.

Jack Price earned his first start of the season and his steady reassuring touch alongside McDonald helped prevent Watford gaining a meaningful foothold in midfield.

As Kenny Jackett has suggested in the past, the bearded one has a strong positional awareness, so even if his passing range is more limited than the likes of a Lee Evans, he offers much needed stability.

Speaking of stability, that’s now two cleansheets in the last three matches, which has given Wolves the platform to claw their way back towards the top six.

OK, there’s been some luck along the way, not least the last gasp curler that cannoned off the bar as Watford finally came to life in the final knockings, but Wolves have also shown a stronger appetite to defend.

And in Kortney Hause and Dominic Iorfa, some much needed pace and physicality has been added to the back four. Both were highly impressive last night.

The team performance was of greater encouragement though. High intensity from the start, controlled passing football and no shortage of pace and fluidity.

If they can continue to match those heavyweight standards with any degree of consistency, they should weigh in respectably over the second half of the campaign.

The gaffer