Archives for February 2014

Wolves Vs Port Vale Preview

Molineux has been a pleasant environment to inhabit this season.

Port Vale Wolves

This despite less than impressive early performances, which yielded points but gave little confidence.

In particular wins over the likes of Crawley and Swindon, who dominated those matches for vast periods, were considered welcome bonuses.

But in the last five or six home matches Wolves have been much more comfortable, stretching opposition with their improved brand of possession football.

Kenny Jackett heads into tomorrow’s game boasting 12 Molineux league victories from his 17 matches in charge, with just the disappointing losses against Walsall and MK Dons blotting a formidable record.

Port Vale

Port_Vale_logo.svgIt was a fairly even match up at Vale Park back in August until Wolves took the lead and eventually cantered away to a comfortable 3-1 win.

Tellingly, four of the Wolves players involved prominently that afternoon (Griffiths, Doyle, Sigurdarson and Ismail) have either left permanently or been sent away on loan. Two others (Davis and Forde) barely get a look in. It’s been a fast evolution for the team this year.

Micky Adams is doing a splendid job at Vale Park, especially when you consider that the club nearly went under just two years ago.

He’s managed to get them out of League Two and sitting comfortably inside the top half of League One. The play-offs are probably not quite within their reach but progress must be pleasing for all concerned.

Our old friend Lee Hughes is of course no longer at the club after leaving in the January transfer window. That will take some of the spice out of a fixture that is tentatively referred to as a derby.

Their away record is pretty poor with 10 defeats from their 16 matches to date. They have won 5 but having conceded 27 goals on their travels (7 more than Wolves have let in overall) it’s clear they can be got at.

Wolves

It would be surprising if Kenny Jackett made any changes to the team that saw off Brentford last weekend. Every player is justifying their place on current performances so who could he possibly sacrifice?

Wolves team for Port Vale

With the stacked up midweek fixtures to come in March, fringe players like Dave Edwards, Lee Evans, Matt Doherty and hopefully Leon Clarke should all get considerable game time.

Whilst decent strength in depth exists to cover injuries, you wonder whether the loss of a key figure like Kevin McDonald or Nouha Dicko could be catered for?

The odds

Wolves are red hot favourites to win this one at 1/2. Port Vale are a generous 7/1 and the draw is 10/3.

Tom Pope is the visitors most likely first goalscorer at 10/1 and with 9 league goals this season, he could be a decent insurance bet.

Nouha Dicko has gone a couple of games without scoring, so if you fancy him to end the drought with tomorrow’s opener, he’s 15/4. All odds available here.

The gaffer

Predictions

46 of you believers correctly thought we’d win at Brentford last week. Only Dalmation Wolf was audacious enough to go all out for the 3-0 win though. A well deserved double haul for him (or her).

The pessimist inside me is tempted to predict a reality check after last weekend’s dizzy heights. But I’ve realised I haven’t shown enough faith in my predictions this year.

I think we have a splendid manager and a good set of players. On our day we’d beat anyone in this league and probably most of the teams in the league above.

4-1 for me tomorrow.

Up The Wolves

Brentford 0 Wolves 3

Brentford’s admirable 19 game unbeaten run had led to suggestions that they’d ‘forgotten how to lose’.

Wolves Brentford

By 4.45pm yesterday afternoon, Wolves had dealt them a painful reminder.

And although the lop-sided scoreline might have raised an eyebrow, the result surprised nobody of an old-gold persuasion.

This sort of emphatic, statement-making performance has been bubbling to the surface for well over two months.

The fact that Kenny Jackett’s side were able to deliver it in arguably their greatest challenge to date just makes it all the more impressive.

Only James Henry knows if luck or judgment gave the visitors the lead, as his looping cross shot nestled in the corner of the net with the last kick of the first half.

But from that point on, all the characteristics that have made this Wolves side so successful in recent times strutted confidently to the fore.

They defended ‘stoutly’ (Kenny’s word not mine), broke away at pace and when opportunity presented itself, punished the opposition with ruthless efficiency.

The stability at the back has been there all season of course, ensuring that even when full throttle wasn’t fully engaged, the points were still being steadily accumulated.

But the arrival of Michael Jacobs and the switch to a more open, fluid formation, has added some much needed razzle-dazzle.

Nouha Dicko has been yet another shrewd addition, stretching defences with his powerful runs in behind, which create spaces for the likes of Jacobs, Sako and Henry to exploit.

And boy, are those three filling their boots.

Jacobs will deservedly grab the headlines for a second consecutive weekend, as his two excellent finishes took the game away from the league leaders.

But Bakary Sako was truly imperious, assisting both of those goals with the sort of quality that underlines just how vital it was for Wolves to retain his services.

The third goal in particular, which started with Scott Golbourne juggling the ball on the touchline before an outrageous Sako backheel opened the gates for the full-back to lay a cross into the patch of Jacobs, was a thing of beauty.

Had Barcelona scored it at the Etihad in midweek, it would still be getting dissected by studio hacks this morning.

In that respect, it was disappointing that nobody in the Brentford camp, including manager Mark Warburton, acknowledged the opposition’s performance.

Forgetting how to lose is one thing, forgetting how to be magnanimous in defeat is another.

Brentford Vs Wolves Preview

I remember looking at the table back in September/October time and all but writing Brentford off.

Wolves Brentford

An outside bet for the play-offs I thought, but definitely not going to trouble the automatic places.

I’d wager I’m not the only one with egg on my face though.

Even the most optimistic amongst their own supporters couldn’t have predicted the mind boggling run that’s taken them from middle table also-rans to League One pace setters.

And what a pace they are setting. Not even a tidy five game winning streak from Wolves could usurp them from top spot as their unbeaten run (currently standing at 19) plunders on.

Brentford

Brentford logoWhen Uwe Rosler left town to take up the vacancy at Wigan, I again thought the wheels would fall off. But with Mark Warburton at the helm, they’ve just kept on rolling.

The Bees have the second best home record in the league (Wolves having taken 2 more points, albeit from 2 more games), notching an intimidating 12 wins at Griffin Park already this season.

There are goals throughout their side with the likes of top scorer Clayton Donaldson (14), Marcello Trotta (11) and Adam Forshaw (7) all getting on the scoresheet regularly.

Donaldson in particular was a real handful for Wolves earlier in the season at Molineux. Anything played diagonally to him in the air caused our defence problems. I expect a similar challenge tomorrow.

Anyone who saw their three long range goals at Crewe last weekend will also know that you can’t stand off them either. These multiple threats are a big part of the reason they’re doing so well.

Wolves

As good as Brentford are, I still believe Wolves have the better players and on their day should be able to enforce their game on the league leaders. I expect the same starting XI as last weekend:

Wolves team for Brentford

Lots of chances are being created and I think we’re all just waiting for an afternoon when everything clicks and the goals start flying in. We’ll have to be more ruthless tomorrow than we’ve been in recent weeks.

Getting the likes of Sako and Jacobs into the game can be trickier away from Molineux, but if the supply line to them is decent I can’t believe we won’t score at least once.

Another cleansheet from our imperious defence would also be welcome. I think a lot of the reason we’ve conceded so few goals isn’t just good defending, it’s because we look after the ball so much better these days and claim a greater share of the possession. Long may that continue.

The odds

For probably the first time this season, Wolves aren’t favourite for the victory. The bookmakers give it to the hosts, who are 6/4. Wolves are just outside at 2/1 and the draw is 12/5.

Marcello Trotta is the likeliest first scorer at 11/2, with Nouha Dicko not far off at 6/1. If you fancy Michael Jacobs to pick up where he left off last week, he’s 10/1 to open the scoring.

All odds can be found here.

The gaffer

Predictions

Well done to all 67 of you who thought Wolves would overcome Notts County last week. 16 also got the 2-0 scoreline correct to double their weekly point intake.

Could go either way this week. The bookies make Brentford slight favourites, which is probably about right with home advantage and the run they’ve been on. But I quietly fancy our chances.

Sitting on the fence though, with a score draw prediction.

2-2

Up The Wolves!

Wolves 2 Notts County 0

Notts County striker Jimmy Spencer gave his local rag the kind of sparkling soundbite every journalist dreams about last week.

Wovles Notts County

When asked about his side’s prospects ahead of their visit to Molineux, he nonchalantly replied ‘It’s a harder game this week, but Wolves aren’t Real Madrid, are they?’

I wonder if he thought about the comment yesterday as he exited the field after being substituted on the hour mark?

By that time Michael Jacobs had deservedly steered another game in the home side’s favour with two goals fit for Bernabeu consumption.

The first, a rising header after a slick passing move that resulted in Scott Golbourne lifting a perfectly weighted cross into his path.

The second, a thunderous low drive that exploited the tightest of spaces between goalkeeper and post following a brilliant interception and forward dash from Richard Stearman.

And two should really have been four or five.

The resurgent Bakary Sako twice channeled Roberto Carlos with missiles that only instinctive saves from the County keeper could repel.

Nouha Dicko, again impressive as the lone forward, was uncharacteristically wasteful when presented with a tap-in by his French compatriot.

James Henry too, intelligently darting in behind a static County defence couldn’t find the finish his smart run warranted.

All afternoon the chances flowed like Sangria as Wolves showed the far greater attacking menace in a match that wasn’t always one-way traffic.

Shaun Derry’s side took an equal share of the possession and spent the last twenty minutes camped inside the opposition’s half.

But whilst the hosts peppered the County goal with 18 shots, the away team could only muster one effort on target all afternoon.

And that’s the difference.

Kenny Jackett has cleverly engineered a Wolves side that play with both precision and purpose. It’s lovely to watch.

Still, Callum McGrefgor and Jack Grealish could have spoiled the party had either managed to hit the target with glorious chances in either half.

It’s unlikely Brentford will be as forgiving next week. But with Wolves playing their best football of the season, the Bees will have just as much to fear.

And it’s not like they’re Bayern Munich is it?

Highlights

Football Aid 2014 – Play at Molineux

How would you like to Live Your Dream of running out at Molineux alongside a Wolves Legend before taking part in a 90 minute match on the hallowed turf?

Football aid 2014

Well now’s your chance as Wolverhampton Wanderers FC have once again joined forces with Football Aid – www.footballaid.com – to give fans the opportunity to play at Molineux in 2014 and raise valuable funds for charity at the same time.

Football Aid offers Wolves fans the unique opportunity to experience a matchday in the same way the likes of Danny Batth, Bakary Sako and Samuel Ricketts and co do every other week. Players will gain exclusive access to the pitch and tunnel areas, pull on their own personalised shirt in the official changing rooms, walk down the tunnel to the sound of a cheering crowd and step out on the pitch and represent Wolves in a never to be forgotten 90 minutes of football!

To add to that, the matches at Molineux have also been supported by a host of fantastic Wolves legends in recent years, with the likes Matt Murray, Jody Craddock, Lee Naylor, Rob Edwards, Don Goodman, Andy Mutch, Robbie Dennison, David Kelly, Jon Purdie (and many more) all lending their extra special support by playing alongside or managing the fans on their big day.

Football aid Don

Positions are now available in our Auction Bidding and securing a position couldn’t be easier, just visit www.footballaid.com and choose the Wolverhampton Wanderers game and then you’ll have two options: Option 1: Bid to Play – Enter your Maximum Bid and if you’re the highest bidder when the position closes you’ll win your place on your Field of Dreams, or Option 2: Buy Now – Close the auction early and secure your place with a one off payment online. Positions close at regular intervals until Tue 12th March and opening Bids start from just £170.

Wolves fan Gary Brazier played in a game at Molineux and told Football Aid about his experience after last year’s event:

Football aid 3“Would just like to thank you and the rest of the football aid team for what was a fantastic experience at Molineux last night. From the minute we arrived to the minute we left, my family and I had a truly wonderful evening. And to top it all, getting 6 ex Wolves players to turn up is remarkable. Once again, thank you”

So if you’re keen to secure a place on your Field of Dreams this season, why not visit www.footballaid.com and sign up today! Alternatively if you’d like any additional information, you can call Football Aid on tel: 0131 220 5999, e-mail: info@footballaid.com, post on their Facebook page: www.facebook.com/footballaid or send a tweet to @FootballAid.

Since forming in 2001 Football Aid have allowed over 14,000 football fans the chance to Live the Dream in 535 charity matches all over the UK. The unique concept was the brainchild of businessman and Football Aid Chairman Craig Paterson and funds raised from this year’s events will benefit the work of a charitable project nominated by Wolverhampton Wanderers FC, as well as projects nominated by Football Aid’s parent charity Field of Dreams.

Wolves Vs Notts County Preview

I was at Meadow Lane back in November to see Wolves secure a narrow 1-0 victory.

Wolves Notts County

That was a period in the season when the performances weren’t particularly inspiring, but the results were still coming.

But it was actually a 20-minute spell in the second half of that game that I first started to feel truly encouraged about what Kenny Jackett was building.

McDonald started to get on the ball and dictate play,  Golbourne was bombing forward and the likes of Sako and Henry were creating chances for the forwards.

It certainly wasn’t a complete performance, but you could clearly see the intention for neat, possession-based football. We were just a few players short of doing it efficiently.

Fast forward to now and we have filled the holes and look a very good team, by League One standards at least.

Notts County

Notts_County_LogoFortunately, I didn’t go to the other fixture between these two sides, which was the Johnstones Paint Trophy stalemate at Molineux that ended in penalty shootout win for County.

Wolves were woeful that evening and would have lost the game in regulation time had it not been for a string of Carl Ikeme saves.

But that victory for County was a rare highlight of a disappointing first half of the season. They’ve changed manager since, brought in a shed load of loan signings and are now a completely different proposition.

Result have been mixed of late, including a 5-1 home defeat to Walsall, a narrow 4-3 loss against Peterborough, but most recently a solid 3-0 victory over Coventry.

The Magpies easily have the worst away record, with 12 defeats from 16 games to date and only 2 wins. They have firepower though, in the shape of midfielder and Wolves-target Callum McGregor, currently on loan from Celtic.

Wolves

Carl Ikeme could feature tomorrow after returning from injury. I’d be happy to see him back between the sticks, but equally have confidence in Aaron McCarey, whose done little wrong in his clutch of appearances.

Wolves team for Crawley

Others that could come into contention for a start are James Henry, Lee Evans and Matt Doherty (I think he’s back in the squad). But I don’t the above eleven will be far off.

With so many games to come in March, the strength of the squad will be severely tested. Although we have the above options waiting in the wings, I’d worry if we lost the likes of McDonald and Dicko for any period of time. I’m sure KJ will be dipping into the loan market.

The gaffer

The odds

Wolves are strong favourites for the win at 9/20. County are a favourable 15/2. A £1 bet on any County win returns £8.50, so if you’re feeling pessimistic, this is a good game to put that insurance policy in place.

Nouha Dicko is the most likely first goalscorer at 15/4. The prolific (of late) Kevin McDonald is 7/1, while Callum McGregor is 11/1.

All odds are available from here.

Predictions

No game last weekend so no PL points. I’ve updated the table so please do make sure you have the points you think you should have. Email me any errors via the contact page.

I don’t think County are as bad a team now as their overall position suggests. As Kenny said in his pre-match interview, they’ve used the loan market well and have some useful players.

Still, I think if Wolves play well, as they have been of late, I can only see one outcome.

3-1

Up The Wolves