Archives for December 2015

Brighton & Hove Albion Vs Wolves Preview

You probably shouldn’t feel overly confident when you’re about to play a team that have only lost twice all season.

Wolves Brighton

Furthermore our current record against sides in the top six currently reads drawn four, lost two.

But after successive victories and with a ‘nothing to lose’ approach, you just wonder whether Wolves can cause an upset on the south coast?

Wins over Reading and Charlton dug us out of trouble but a positive result against the early season pacesetters would feel infinitely more significant.

Brighton

1024px-Brighton_&_Hove_Albion_logo.svgAfter that lightning start the Seagulls have only managed three wins in their last 10 league matches and are now back in the play-off pack.

Having now lost a couple of matches and suffered some injuries, it will be interesting to see if they can last the pace.

I wasn’t overly impressed when they came to Molineux earlier in the season. They were solid but didn’t look like world beaters, even when Wolves were reduced to ten.

That said, teams don’t put long undefeated runs together in the Championship if they haven’t discovered the right formula.

Rajiv van La Parra has been helping them out with a few goals, but he’ll sit this one out to further test the depth of Chris Hughton’s squad.

Wolves

Given that Kenny Jackett didn’t make any changes for Charlton, it seems unlikely he’ll move things around for this one.

Wolves team for Brighton

Grant Holt has departed so that frees up space on the bench for someone to move up the ladder. Whether or not new signing Michal Zyro is eligible on New Year’s day, I’m not sure.

Speaking of the winger, it seems likely one of our wide men will disappear in January to accommodate the Pole. Will van La Parra be sold? Will Ojo be sent back? Both?

Either way, our attacking players have consistently produced of late, which means we’re carrying requisite threat to win matches.

Predictions

It’s definitely a good time to be playing Brighton. They’re wobbling and we should be feeling good about life again after a decent Christmas.

But prior to losing their last two home matches, they’d won eight and drawn two, so it’s still fair to describe the Amex as a fortress.

A draw would complete a solid period of form, but I think we could do even better.

2-1.

Up The Wolves!

Charlton Athletic 0 Wolves 2

How much brighter is everyone’s outlook after back-to-back victories?

Graham Charlton

Old gold confidence is higher than it’s been for a while as we approach 2016 closer to the play-offs than the relegation zone.

In what may hopefully be a metaphor for the season, a largely forgettable first 45 minutes was followed by a much improved second half with Wolves running out comfortable victors.

On a sunny winter’s afternoon in South London there were more than just the unseasonable conditions for a sizable travelling support to enjoy.

At the back, Wolves built on a clean-sheet at Reading with another solid performance.

Carl Ikeme will certainly have busier afternoons this season, and if Batth and Ebanks-Landell continue to cut out the defensive errors, any January recruits might find it more difficult to break into the starting XI than would have been predicted only a few weeks back.

Away end Charlton

Charlton, admittedly missing several influential players including one time Wolves target Gudmundsson, created very little in the way of goal-scoring opportunities.

Much of the credit for this must go to the industrious Connor Coady who completed a second full 90 minutes in three days yet never stopped running.

What was most impressive was as well as providing the expected defensive cover, his lung-busting runs often saw him supporting Afobe as the most advanced of the central midfield trio.

After an impressive start to his Wolves’ career, his form seemed to desert after that sending off against Brighton. Continuing to perform at this level for the remainder of the season would do nicely.

It seems impossible to review any game at present without praising Jordan Graham, and today was no exception.

As well as providing yet another assist, the winger remained composed to score his first Wolves goal after good work from Afobe on the right. Hopefully the first of many to come.

Looking out over the numerous tower cranes and construction works as the overground service transported us back north of the river, you couldn’t help hope (dangerous thing for a Wolves fan) we too can build on some encouraging foundations.

Charlton Athletic Vs Wolves Preview

Had we failed to beat Reading, I think we’d all be looking at this fixture a little differently.

Charlton

But with the relative comfort of seven points between Wolves and the bottom three, you’d be forgiven for breathing easier.

Losing tomorrow against a team in free fall may reignite the panic though, so best to avoid that scenario if possible lads.

With two games inside 48 hours, you’d expect to see a few changes in personnel for both sides, which could prove the difference.

Charlton

Charlton logoThe Addicks are sinking like a stone and it took a last kick of the game equaliser at Ashton Gate to prevent a Boxing Day defeat at fellow strugglers Bristol City.

They haven’t won any of their last six and have lost three of those matches to cement a place inside the relegation zone.

Bristol City, Rotherham and MK Dons all seem capable of picking up results, making their current plight all the more worrying.

Their home form (won three, drawn four, lost four) isn’t disastrous so perhaps if they are to repair the damage, the Valley can be their saving grace?

Wolves

It was disappointing to see Jack Price ruled out against Reading. Hopefully he’ll make it back in time for this one, as I think Dave Edwards needs a rest.

Wolves team for Charlton

I still think a more compact midfield would suit us defensively and without wanting to dwell on the point, I also think trying Iorfa centrally at the expense of Ebanks-Landell is well worth a go.

I’m expecting a couple of changes, so it will be interesting to see how Kenny uses his available resources in pursuit of a winning formula.

Predictions

I haven’t predicted victory in a while but I’m feeling foolishly confident.

Yes, Charlton are long overdue a win, but tails should be up after our own morale boosting result and I think there’s less pressure away from Molineux.

I’ll go for a narrow but highly satisfying 2-1.

Up The Wolves!

Wolves 1 Reading 0

‘To put it in gentleman’s terms, if you’re looking for a young lady and you pull one, some weeks they’re good looking and some weeks they’re not the best. Our performance today would have been not the best looking bird but at least we got her in the taxi.’

Henry Reading

Ian Holloway, last seen traveling the country in a tour bus that had his face plastered along its side, offered this pearl of wisdom during his tenure as QPR manager. Though it teeters precariously along the lines of chauvinism, it’s certainly rings true when applied to our most recent performance.

There have seldom been games under Kenny Jackett’s tenure in which we have been dominated to the extent we were by Reading. Despite being far removed from the Championship elite, the Royals enjoyed three quarters of possession and, according to BBC WM, managed over 20 shots on goal.

However, the most telling statistic of all is Reading’s ‘goals scored’ tally. Despite a pretty calamitous first half showing, our defence managed to keep the away side at bay and, in doing so, offered hope that improvement is on the way.

Ethan Ebanks-Landell has come in for criticism in recent weeks but enjoyed a most impressive second half.

The January transfer window, along with the returning Kortney Hause, is likely to bring the Smethwick born defender some much needed competition but yesterday’s showing suggested he is good enough to make that contest more hard fought than we initially expected.

Indeed, our defensive application was a world away from the recent Keystone Cops tribute act we’ve had to endure. If we can get some more bodies in over January, preferably in the centre and left back departments, then we’ll have cause to hope that Kenny can finally remedy this season long ailment.

That being said, my Mom made the excellent assertion that, for all of the back four’s recent failings, we have largely been guilty of neglecting the defensive shortcomings of our midfield.

There is nowhere near as much energy in the centre as there was last season, irrespective of the combination Kenny has plumped for over the duration of the campaign.

Kevin McDonald, though still our most influential player, is often guilty of indolence and Dave Edwards appears to have been running on empty for some time now.

The cause of this malaise is difficult to diagnose but is something that also needs to be addressed over the ensuing months. We can but only hope that our flustered manager remains capable of solving such conundrums.

This was a big win for him and will hopefully instigate a revitalisation that will silence some of his more over zealous social media detractors.

One win, especially one as cagey as this, won’t be enough to rekindle Kenny’s love affair with our club. This needs to be a turning point rather than another false dawn.

Or, to revert to the tone of Sky Sports’ premier Football League pundit, the start of a long term relationship and not another one night stand.

Wolves Vs Reading Preview

We were victorious in a televised Boxing Day clash last Christmas.

Reading

Watford were the victims and I thought Wolves thoroughly deserved their 1-0, despite a late onslaught.

A year on, we’re now looking over our shoulders at that familiar trapdoor while the Hornets are eyeballing the Champions League.

You couldn’t make it up.

Kenny Jackett won’t find much festive cheer around Molineux if his players don’t deliver the goods, so here’s hoping for a plump, juicy turkey of a performance rather than another dusty lump of coal.

Reading

200px-Reading_FC.svgThe Royals lost patience with their manager and gave Steve Clarke the old heave-ho. A funny one that as not long before he was linked with the Fulham job and opted to stay in charge at the Madejski.

Brian McDermott is back in the saddle now, which isn’t a bad move. He’s got them out of the Championship once and knows the club well.

They’ve got some dangerous players in Vydra, Robson-Kanu and Nick Blackman the striker Wolves were heavily linked with in the summer. He’s got 12 goals already this term.

After beating Blackburn last time out to arrest a run of four straight defeats, they’ll be looking to get back up towards the top six where they’ve spent most of the season.

With 6 defeats already and 18 goals conceded, they have the worst away record of any team in the top half. Cause for optimism?

Wolves

Kenny deployed an attacking lineup against Sheffield Wednesday but was it too gung-ho for a team struggling at the other end of the pitch?

Wolves team for Reading

I wonder if bringing Conor Coady into the side to sit deeper than McDonald and Price would take some of the pressure away from our centre halves?

Creatively, I think the midfield is one of the stronger aspects of the side, but it’s too easily bypassed when we’re not in possession.

I’d also keep Byrne, Graham and Afobe as the front three and restore Scott Golbourne at full-back in favour of the error prone Ebanks-Landell.

The gaffer

Predictions

I’ve been predicting draws like they’re going out of fashion, principally because I don’t think we’re as bad as our league position suggests, but the results just haven’t been there.

And so the fence squatting continues – 2-2.

Have a great Christmas everyone and look after yourselves.

Up The Wolves!

Sheffield Wednesday 4 Wolves 1

It’s often said the first goal is vital in Championship football.

Wolves Wednesday

So it’s all the more galling that Wolves have taken the lead in each of their last three matches and only accumulated a single point.

We barely even had time to savour Benik Afobe’s opener yesterday before Wednesday promptly turned the game on it’s head and disappeared over the horizon.

Ethan Ebanks-Landell had another game to forget and his clumsy, leaden footed presence is a continual feature of the opposition’s most damaging moments.

It’s chaos in that back four and without the steadying presence of a Richard Stearman or a Mike Williamson, nobody knows where to look.

Kenny Jackett’s attempt to solve the problem was dropping Scott Golbourne – the most experienced defender we have on the books – in favour of Matt Doherty.

If the head coach can’t see that Ebanks-Landell is the problem, not the solution, then I seriously question his judgment.

Further forward, Nathan Byrne also came into the side and wasted a golden chance to drag Wolves level just before the break. That might have changed the course of things.

But if there’s a plus to take from these two recent defeats, it’s that chances have been created and goals have been scored.

The problem is that this team simply can’t offer the type of resistance needed to capitalise and navigate safely through a full ninety minutes.

Every time Leeds broke forward they looked like scoring and it was the same story all over again at Hillsborough.

All four goals were a result of our defenders not dealing with balls around the penalty area and it breaking to blue and white shirts.

And in between the goals, calamity lurked at every corner with the previously dependable Carl Ikeme dragged into the pantomime.

More fingers are being pointed at Kenny Jackett and I don’t think anyone would dispute he must shoulder his share of the blame.

But to dismiss a manager whose predominantly shown he can deliver success when adequately supported to get the players he wants would be fruitless.

Would someone like Nigel Pearson do better? Working in an environment where his Player of the Season is sold and no serious money is invested in the team?

The grass always looks greener in times of trouble but recent bitter experience has taught us to be cautious about shouting for change.

Because change isn’t always for the better.