Archives for February 2010

Lost: Bolton 1 Wolves 0

Trudging away from the Reebok at 5 o’clock yesterday, I’d already come to terms with this painful defeat, which could well cost us dearly come the end of the season.

In fact, about twenty minutes into the second half, I’d realised it wasn’t going to be Wolves’ day. Having hit the inside of the post twice, only to see the ball bounce along the goalmouth and out to safety on both ocassions, it was clear that luck certainly wasn’t on our side.

View from the away end (click to expand)

Matt Jarvis should have equalised after motoring away down the left, cutting inside superbly, but then delaying his shot a second too long with the goal at his mercy. He was actually fouled inside the penalty area prior to getting his effort away, but I wasn’t surprised to see the referee turn away the muted appeals.

The tricky wide man also stung Jussi Jääskeläinen’s hands in the first half, latching onto a flick through and firing in a vicious first time shot, that the Bolton keeper did well to turn around the post.

Just not our day. Luckless in many respects.

But luck had nothing to do with our poor defending.

We generally did well from set pieces, doubling up on Kevin Davies and staying tight on the likes of Knight and Elmander. But in the crucial moments prior to half-time we switched off and got punished.

Guedioura didn’t do enough to stop Lee dancing passed him on the byline, Kevin Foley allowed the Korean to come in too far and when the ball was played across, whoever should have been marking Knight wants shooting.

You have to say it had been coming though.

Craddock and particularly Berra didn’t do well enough to repel the threat of Bolton’s front two, all too often flicking balls on to help their cause rather than heading them away to safety. That allowed them to construct a handful of excellent opportunities, which needed smart saves from Hahnemann and a goal line clearance to keep the scores level.

Berra was poor. There’s no hiding from that fact and he needs to improve if he’s to keep his place in the side. He positions himself well most of the time and is excellent when the crosses are raining in, but he’s just not being strong enough, quick enough or good enough on the ball to cope with the demands of the Premiership. I’ve been his biggest fan at different points of the season, but recently he’s disappointed.

I felt disappointed with Ward, Guedioura and Henry too. There was too much dilly-dallying on the ball from those three, which constantly saw possession surrendered easily.

David Jones seemed the only midfielder capable of getting the ball out of his feet and picking out a proper pass. He was man of the match for me with an excellent all round performance; coming within a hairsbreadth of capping it with that superb free-kick that walloped against the post.

There were other decent showings from the likes of Jarvis, Foley and the evergreen Kevin Doyle, but we just never did quite enough in the crucial moments of the game to come away with a result, which is hugely disappointing.

There wasn’t enough desire to go out and get that goal to put us in the driving seat. It was only when we went behind that we showed a bit of spark, which is just so typical of many of our away performances this season. Then of course, there’s that lack of cutting edge, which is proving crucial when the half-chances do come our way, as there’s nobody out there to strike the killer blow.

That looks like it could cost us.

We’ll need to show more in our other relegation showdowns against Burnley and Portsmouth or we’ll almost certainly be hearing the unmistakable hiss of fizzy pop.

In the meantime, we’ve got Man Utd to look forward to next week.

Goodie!

Bolton Vs Wolves Preview

When we lined up against Bolton back in December, things were looking decidedly bleak for Wolves. But a strong team performance, a sprinkle of Milijas magic and ten minutes or so of gut-churning, backs-to-the-wall defending, secured us three precious Premier League points.

Oh how I long for a similar outcome tomorrow.

What a result that would be.

Wolves defended bravely to see out a 2-1 win at Molineux

And what a time it would be for Wolves to finally throw down a marker and take a giant step towards a second consecutive season of Premiership football. You see we’ve steadily accumulated points throughout the campaign, mainly pulling out results when we’ve absolutely had to, but never really pushing on or doing quite enough to put daylight between ourselves and the dropzone.

Tomorrow is another glaring opportunity to do just that.

Recent performances from both sides suggest there’s every chance of Wolves claiming a famous win. Bolton have lost convincingly on more than one occasion in the last few weeks, shipping goals at one end and failing to register anything at the other. Encouraging signs indeed.

Wolves haven’t exactly been prolific, but the shift to the 4-5-1 shape, the form of Kevin Doyle and the emergence of Adlene Guedioura have given fans a renewed sense of optimism. I would even go as as to say, the majority of supporters genuinely believe we WILL beat Bolton on their home patch.

I just wish I shared their confidence.

This game just gives me an uneasy feeling (which is hardly ideal, as I’m traveling the 90 odd miles to see it). The thought of victory just seems too good to be true, which is perhaps a feeling that’s been cultivated through years of being let down at the crucial moments by my beloved team.

Or am I just being a pessimist? Should I feel bad for thinking that Bolton can’t continue to defend as badly or be as profligate in front of goal? Should I bury my head in shame for thinking that Doyle can’t continue to defy what one player should be capable of doing? Should I beat myself with my mouse mat for thinking ‘this is Wolverhampton Wanderers. We never do things the easy way’?

Time will tell, but I dream of being proved wrong.

Anyway, the formalities. The team picks itself barring disaster:

Hahnemann

Zubar
Craddock
Berra
Ward

Foley
Henry
Jones
Guedioura
Jarvis

Doyle

My prediction is a 1-1 draw, because Wolves are in decent form but I can’t shake the feeling of impending doom, so I’ll sit firmly on the fence.

If you’re going to the game, have a great day out and get behind the lads. It’s a biggun’, so they’ll need the support more than ever.

Up The Wolves.

Analysing the Run-In

We’re close enough to the end of the season now to look at the remaining games, torture ourselves a little bit and make some semi-educated guesses about how many points we might end up with.

I did the same at the end of last season, got none of them right and we still ended up winning the league. That kind of shows it to be a pointless exercise, but what the hell hey?

Currently we have 24 points from 26 games.

Is Mick doing the maths?

Taking a look at the final 14 matches, guessing purely the outcome and not the goals scored / conceded, this is what I got:

Bolton (a) – 1pt
Man Utd (h) – 0pts
Burnley (a) – 1pt
Villa (a) – 0pts
West Ham (a) – 1pt
Everton (h) – 1pt
Arsenal (a) – 0pts
Stoke (h) – 3pts
Fulham (a) – 1pt
Blackburn (h) – 3pts
Portsmouth (a) – 3pts
Sunderland (h) – 1pt
===============
Total (24+15) = 39pts
===============

So, what do think. 39 points enough to stay up?

My predictions have us not winning any of the next 7 games (ouch), but putting a run together towards the end to boost our survival chances.

Of course, my impressions of these games could and probably will change as the weeks roll by, which is the beauty of being a football supporter isn’t it?

Anyway, feel free to copy, paste and leave your own predos in the comments.

By the way, I did the other relegation candidates too and the table had Pompey, Burnley and Bolton finishing south of the dreaded dotted line. You heard it here first!