Archives for September 2017

Burton Albion Vs Wolves Preview

In the same way that consecutive wins build confidence, back-to-back defeats are problematic.

After losing to Cardiff, we beat Southampton in the cup and got a solid point at Brentford. It felt like we were immediately back in business.

We need to do something similar again ahead of the international break with a derby to come against Villa straight after. We don’t want a bad result to become a bad run.

Burton are no slouches, particularly on their own ground, but this remains a good opportunity to bounce back.

Burton

They’re a funny old team who’ve registered all sorts of results so far, beating Fulham at home one week and getting slapped by Villa 4-0 the next. Leeds also took them to the cleaners at Elland Road.

Towards the end of last season they looked a dangerous side. Michael Kightly and Cauley Woodrow came in and they were making life difficult for everyone, including Wolves.

They beat us 2-1 to curtail Paul Lambert’s brief march up the table and were good value for that win, turning things around after Helder Costa’s penalty gave Wolves the lead.

But Kightly and Woodrow are no more. Their talisman Jackson Irvine was also sold to Hull in August so it’s been another summer reshuffle for Nigel Clough.

One player they have recruited is Sean Scannell and he has been a thorn in our side on several occasions for Huddersfield and could be again tomorrow.

Wolves man Joe Mason hasn’t been able to consistently force his way into their first eleven yet and they won’t be able to call on his services in this one against his parent club.

Wolves

The key question is who slots in while Conor Coady serves his suspension? Deslandes, Bennett and Hause are the most likely candidates but there are more left field solutions.

It would be a bold move to play Romain Saiss in the back three but he’s come on and played there a few times, so I believe this will be one of the ideas Nuno considers.

Surely Helder Costa will be given another chance to play? Like everyone else, I’m excited to see if he can link up with Jota and Bonatini to create one of the most formidable front three combinations we’ve ever had.

Bonatini also came off at half time against Sheffield United, so hopefully he’s fresh for this one, but with Costa back I can see both Enobakhare and Cavaleiro played down the middle if the Brazilian needs a rest.

Predictions

I’m backing us to get the win. I think it will be a tough game, but this group of players have the quality and a winning mentality.

The key is playing our way into the game and controlling possession. That won’t be easy on a tight pitch with the crowd on top of them, but they’ll get it done.

2-1.

Up The Wolves!

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Sheffield United 2 Wolves 0

We were never in this one.

Even before Conor Coady was sent off for hauling down Leon Clarke the home side were well on top.

They were quicker to the ball, snappier in the tackle and effervescent in their efforts to stop Wolves playing out.

That enthusiasm forced the mistake and from that point on it was one way traffic until they made the breakthrough.

For all their intricate build up play, the goals that won it were meat and drink, with Clarke inevitably there to connect with the crosses.

It’s disappointing in that sense they didn’t have to play through us to win the day. It all felt too easy.

Ruben Neves should have made life significantly more uncomfortable by tying things up from the spot, but truthfully he never looked like scoring.

It was one of those jittery half-baked run ups that rarely inspires confidence and the contact was then less than perfect.

Had Helder Costa still been on the pitch he might well have taken responsibility but on a night of disappointment he was hooked in the tactical reshuffle after Coady headed for the shower.

Still, it’s good that he’s now considered fit enough to feature and you would think he’ll get a relaunch on Saturday.

Beyond that crumb of positive news you’re hard pressed to find anything else.

The lesson to learn is start faster.

Teams will press high and try to force mistakes. Wolves have to show more tenacity, more imagination and a greater appetite to establish a foothold so they can play their game.

This was a blip but it was a blip you could see coming.

Take the medicine and go again.

Sheffield Utd Vs Wolves Preview

Will I ever be able to think about Sheffield Utd without thinking about 2003?

Probably not.

The Blades haven’t had too many opportunities for vengeance since with both clubs ducking and diving around the top three divisions.

But in our last two promotion campaigns, in the Championship under McCarthy and League One under Jackett, we’ve landed good victories at Bramall Lane.

They’re formidable opposition again these days so a third consecutive victory at this famous old ground would be another impressive statement of intent.

Sheffield Utd

Chris Wilder’s newly promoted team ran riot in the Steel City Derby on Sunday, overcoming their nearest and dearest 4-2 at Hillsborough.

That’s their sixth victory from nine matches and puts them in fourth place, just two points behind their opponents tomorrow.

To say that Wilder has done a splendid job for the club he supported growing up would be an understatement. Where various high profile managers failed he succeeded in getting them out of League One.

Now they’re back they look well set to push for the top six again, doing what so many others have done before, carrying that winning momentum into the Championship.

Midfielder John Fleck is earning rave reviews and he scored a belting free kick to put them ahead at the weekend. He’s one to watch.

Leon Clarke scored twice in the same game and we all know everything there is to know about him. You can bet he’ll be itching to make an impact again.

Wolves

Nuno may choose to reward the players who won us the game on Saturday. That would mean the following team:

I like Vinagre but Douglas is the senior pro and we looked much tighter defensively after half time with him down the left.

Saiss and Cavaleiro didn’t do much wrong but the impact of N’Diaye and Enobakhare was clear. That said, it  comes down to what the head coach needs for this particular game.

N’Diaye is a bigger physical presence, whereas Saiss is more considered in possession. Some have suggested Neves needs resting, but I’d be loathe to leave him out.

Cavaleiro is the type of player home supporters dread seeing, all pace and quick feet around their penalty area. But Bright’s confidence is up so I’d expect to see him get a good chunk of the action.

They’re nice problems to have though and I genuinely don’t mind who plays. The tantalising prospect of Helder Costa’s return is also imminent. He might get some minutes tomorrow.

The betting odds

It’s no surprise that Wolves are 6/4 to win this one with a home victory fancied at 9/5. Visit the Ladbrokes free bet offers page for details about how you can enhance your winnings. An aggregate of all the betting sites still shows Wolves as favourites for the title if you’re interested in the longer game, while Diogo Jota for Championship top scorer still looks enticing.

Predictions

We have the best away record in the division and have also beaten Premier League Southampton in the cup so I shouldn’t be that nervous.

But I smell danger in this fixture. At some point we’ll come up against a fired up home team and will have to manage buoyant opposition and a hostile home crowd. This could be that test.

A 4 point return from the next two would be more than satisfactory and I suspect this one might be the draw.

2-2.

Up The Wolves!

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Wolves 2 Barnsley 1

For half an hour I was convinced Barnsley had an extra man.

Every single loose ball spilled out to a white shirt and the fluency we’ve come to expect was lacking.

It wasn’t anything so underhanded. The Tykes just played a high line, suffocated Wolves in possession and cut off the supply to their most potent attacking weapons.

This was an uphill slog and although the visitors never once tested John Ruddy from open play, their possession and territory kept forcing set pieces where vulnerability was again exposed.

The problem doesn’t seem to be dealing with the initial cross, more a failure to clear the knock downs and remaining organised when the ball is recycled. Barnsley and Bristol City have both reaped the rewards and others will target such an obvious frailty.

You couldn’t have begrudged Barnsley a point if they’d managed to hold on after that injury time heartbreaker.

The possession stats were split right down the middle, as were shots (Wolves one better off) and they forced 8 corners to our 5.

Numbers don’t always reflect the game but it did feel like they were in the ascendancy for much of this game, albeit lacking a killer instinct.

Wolves by contrast rarely found a rhythm but did create chances throughout. Cavaleiro shot wide in the first half, Bonatini fluffed when clean through and Douglas saw a powerful effort pushed wide.

N’Diaye and Enobakhare were eventually dispatched to make things happen and boy, they certainly delivered.

Bright couldn’t be more different to Cavaleiro. While the Portuguese man always seems to be in forward motion, bending and twisting away from tackles, Enobakhare rarely exits walking pace.

There was divided opinion over Cavaleiro’s contribution yesterday. I thought he did some decent things and was one of the few players to drive us forward but there were loose passes and sloppy moments too. It was a big drop from his level against Bristol City and I wasn’t surprised to see him hooked.

Enobakhare’s controlled, almost indifferent finish was sublime and worthy of winning what had been a forgettable game up to that point.

But the Nigerian needed one more moment of inspiration after Barnsley had spoiled the party, sliding a neat through ball for Bonatini to put it on a plate for the onrushing N’Diaye.

The big midfielder couldn’t miss after his perfectly timed run and having put over the cross for the first goal, his contribution was perhaps the most telling.

If his purpose is to offer a different approach to Neves and Saiss it’s mission accomplished. His battering ram cameo was something to behold and exactly what was needed.

Special mention too for Bonatini, who looked classy again and is exceptional at bringing others into play. He has to score that one-on-one in the second half but it’s tough to question his overall efforts.

I also thought Batth was tremendous, making crucial blocks and tackles when Barnsley had us stretched.

Overall, it’s pleasing to see the team come away victorious despite the opposition being so effective with a high pressing game.

But Wolves needed to demonstrate greater enthusiasm and more invention in that first half. Too many players looked off the pace and those small percentages add up to a big difference.

It won’t always be a cruise and this get out of jail free was a timely reminder.

Wolves Vs Barnsley Preview

We got in trouble with some Barnsley fans last season after they battered Wolves in this fixture.

A few Tykes supporters felt there was an insinuation in our report that teams ‘like Barnsley’ shouldn’t be beating us 4-0.

But nobody was belittling their club. In fact, we were complimentary about just how superior they were that evening.

Fast forward to now and at the risk of another dressing down, Barnsley definitely should not be beating us 4-0 this time. Sorry chaps.

Barnsley

The team that got them up into the Championship obviously had some talent because most of them have been picked off.

Hourihane, Mawson and Winnall are just three names who’ve moved on for big money.

It’s a big ask for Paul Heckingbottom to keep rebuilding the side when other clubs keep swooping in for their best and brightest.

They’re currently down in 20th and still looking for their first away win of the season.

However, a strong showing at Wembley in midweek against Spurs, albeit in defeat, will have given them heart.

Former Walsall man Tom Bradshaw has 5 goals already and is one to keep an eye on Saturday.

Wolves

Whichever combination Nuno chooses, I feel confident the overall quality won’t suffer.

I still think the team that won the first three matches of the season is our best eleven.

But the players who’ve benefited from injuries like Batth and Vinagre have come in and done well.

N’Diaye also offers something different to Saiss, which is no bad thing. You don’t always want two static holding players.

It’s a squad game but Jota has fast become the main man and he’s the one player everyone wants to see on the teamsheet.

Predictions

I’m so confident that we’ll win that I’m almost certain we won’t. There’s a football fan’s logic for you.

Maybe this current Barnsley team are better than the bits I’ve seen and maybe we’re not as good as I think we are, but everything points to a home victory.

I’m going for 2-0.

Up The Wolves!

* Well done to Beford Wolf who won the Art of Football competition and thanks to everyone who took part.

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Art of Football Competition

It’s been a while since we did a competition so when the lads from Art of Football got in touch about their new Bully design I was only happy to team up.

If you want to win one of these t-shirts featuring the iconic airplane celebration, simply leave a comment below completing the following sentence:

‘The last time I felt like doing the airplane was…’

Try to keep it clean.

The comment with the most votes at 10am on Friday 22nd September wins with the winner to be announced in the preview for the Barnsley game.

Some competition terms…

  • I’ve checked with the guys at Art of Football and they will ship internationally so this is open to everyone.
  • One comment (or entry) per person.
  • Competition prize is a tshirt featuring the above design, available in black, white, navy or dark grey with sizes from S to XXL. For more information about the product go here.

Best of luck guys and girls.

To view the full range of Wolves products from Art of Football go here.

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