Norwich City Vs Wolves Preview

We’ve swallowed a few tough defeats at Carrow Road over the years. But then again, we’ve enjoyed some mesmeric highs too.

I remember a feeling of complete emptiness after that harrowing 3-1 play-off defeat in the infamous 2001-02 campaign.

But Wolves triumphed 3-0 the following year en route to the Premier League. I love you George Ndah.

There was a 5-2 battering to endure in our promotion season under Mick McCarthy, and we also ended up on the wrong side of another 3-1 last season, albeit under controversial circumstances.

But what about Robbie Keane’s debut? Or that chip from Bully over Bryan Gunn? They more than cancel out the anguish.

I feel like this one could very easily end up in either camp.

Norwich

Daniel Farke was cock of the walk after their victory over Ipswich the other week as the Canaries continued their climb up the table.

But defeat against Derby on Saturday has checked that progress, so he’ll be keen to start another unbeaten run to get them cemented in the top six.

I expected Norwich to be in the automatic promotion mix last season, but after falling dismally short and seeing a couple of players leave in the summer I wasn’t convinced they’d do a lot this time.

They’re up and around the action though so who knows?

Like Wolves they played a blinder in the cup, taking Arsenal to extra-time before eventually succumbing late on at the Emirates.

They’ve still got familiar foes like Cameron Jerome and Wes Hoolahan as well as reported Wolves target Nelson Oliveira who remains their joint top scorer in a stop-start season to date.

But with just 14 league goals so far, only four teams have a weaker attack so this notoriously high scoring fixture might be in for a quieter year.

Wolves

I don’t think it would hurt to freshen things up after the weekend. Having watched the game, I can definitely say the team looked like it needed a lift.

Boly, Vinagre and N’Diaye could give us more mobility and power. Bright is worth a start too having enjoyed his performance (minus finishing) at the Etihad.

While I agree with those who say Norris should be pushing Ruddy for a league start, I’m not a fan of changing the keeper around too much so I think if Nuno makes that big call, he’s got to stick with it.

There are plenty of combinations of course and this is just one. The defeat gives the coach a mandate to do as he wishes.

Predictions

I thought we’d win at the weekend and we lost. The performance wasn’t great either, but Wolves still created enough clear opportunities to have won the game.

Norwich don’t look as expansive as QPR, but I still think we’ll unpick them and create, so it becomes about taking those chances and keeping the back door shut.

I’ll back us for an edgy 2-1.

Up the Wolves!

QPR 2 Wolves 1

Fair play to QPR, I don’t begrudge them the win.

More for what they did in the second half than the first. They showed an increasing appetite to pile forward and muscle their way into the ascendancy.

That said, as the home side’s confidence grew, Wolves wasted two excellent chances to get themselves ahead but neither Bonatini or Jota could supply the finish.

If they had done, I think that would have been that, but instead Ian Holloway’s side continued to grow in belief and our defence are always vulnerable to those second phase crosses.

We won’t be the last team to see points disappear via Matt Smith’s forehead either and it’s a reminder to everyone that if you don’t maintain your standards, the Championship will bite back.

In the first half I couldn’t see QPR scoring from open play. Wolves were hardly razor sharp but it had the look of a game that would eventually turn in our favour.

They created little and were playing a high line. Cavaleiro and Jota both came close to breaking the trap and the latter dragged a shot wide after a good run.

But Saiss got caught in his own defensive third and Washington did well to lift the ball over Ruddy and squeeze the ball in at the near post.

The immediate equaliser via Jota’s unbelievable run and Bonatini’s bullet finish should have been the shot in the arm the lads needed a for a second half onslaught.

Instead it was QPR who came out firing and immediately saw a shot come off the bar.

Then came the missed chances in that period of the game that Wolves have been so effective this season and that profligacy was the difference between victory and defeat.

Any loss is painful when you’ve become accustomed to winning, but I don’t see this team embarking on a long winless run.

As Nuno pointed out afterwards, Wolves lacked intensity. I agree. Collectively they weren’t quite at the races.

A response is needed and Norwich away under the floodlights is a notoriously difficult challenge.

I suspect though, we will see that response.

QPR Vs Wolves Preview

Pep Guardiola’s comments about the ball after Tuesday night were ill-judged.

Not least because it revealed he hadn’t even heard of Mitre. Call yourself a football man.

More seriously, I don’t understand how he can say it was ‘impossible to score’ after his team effortlessly dispatched four penalties.

Both teams were spraying the ball around the pitch all night and if you can play a 30 yard pass, you can certainly stroke the ball into the goal from inside the penalty area.

Even if the ball is a bit naff, I thought it lacked class to make those comments in the immediate aftermath of the game, particularly as he gave Wolves no credit at all for their performance.

QPR

Back in the real world QPR haven’t won any of their last 7 matches, turning a solid start into a rapid slide down the table.

Looking at some of their fixtures, they can hardly bemoan tough opposition either. Bolton, Sunderland, Burton and Barnsley have all taken points off the Rs in what’s been a disappointing spell for Ian Holloway’s side.

Too many draws has been the problem. Nearly half their games have ended in stalemate, which is reflected in their scored 16, conceded 17 stats.

They’re not particularly prolific or miserly in defence. They just look, on paper at least, very, very average.

Individually, they’ve got a few players I’ve always liked. Jamie Mackie, Massimo Luongo and Jake Bidwell are all proven Championship performers and in previous years I’d be weary about their collective qualities.

Interesting to see they’ve been stung with a huge fine (£40 million reported) for their cavalier attitude towards Financial Fair Play following their previous Championship promotion campaign.

That kind of walloping great payout will surely restrict their ability to grow in the seasons to come? Hopefully we don’t end up in the same ship.

Wolves

If you’re one of those ‘the league is all that matters’ people then Tuesday must have been pretty splendid. Most of the key men were rested and many of the others only played a supporting role.

Ruddy, Douglas, Doherty, Neves, Saiss and Jota didn’t play a single minute between them. Cavaleiro and Bonatini enjoyed breezy cameos without overly extending themselves.

I don’t know what’s happened to Willy Boly as I expected him to start at the Etihad, so perhaps he’s being saved with a view to slotting back in tomorrow? Unless I’ve missed something about an injury setback.

If the above guesswork proves accurate, Conor Coady will be the only marathon man asked to back up his exploits in the cup with another performance tomorrow. I wouldn’t back against him.

Predictions

The Championship is rarely predictable but we should win this game. Looking ahead to the Norwich fixture and next Friday’s game against Fulham as a block of three, this looks the most straightforward task.

Looking at the odds at Betway, Wolves are being offered at 23/20 for the win so the bookies are confident of us taking the points.

I don’t mean any disrespect to QPR, but looking at where they are currently, our playing squad and how much we have in reserve, the logical conclusion is a Wolves victory.

Even though they’re overdue a good result and perhaps a bit of luck, I think we’ll get it done.

3-1.

Up The Wolves!

Man City 0 Wolves 0 (Man City win 4-1 on penalties)

Bright Enobakhare is a special talent.

It’s 20 years since Robbie Keane summersaulted into the spotlight and this is the first time since a genuine attacking star has been unearthed.

We’ve got to love him, protect him, accept his shortcomings, forgive missteps and just keep encouraging progress. It will come.

Last night was an at once uplifting and chastising experience for the 19 year old, leading the line exquisitely against high calibre opposition but falling at the last with hero status agonisingly within his grasp.

Had he taken the final and most glaring of all his chances in the dying seconds of normal time we’d be talking about a win to eclipse anything Paul Lambert’s team achieved in last season’s FA Cup.

As it is we’re left nursing the mother of all hard luck stories as our brave warriors achieved the impossible and shut out Pep’s unstoppable juggernaut for over two hours of absorbing football.

They threw the kitchen sink, the bathroom sink, the downstairs toilet and about £500 million of players at our second string and still couldn’t get through.

The excellent Will Norris only made two meaningful saves all night and one of those was a result of his own misplaced pass to Sergio Aguero, which says much about the efforts of the wall of old gold erected in front of our young goalkeeper.

Batth, Hause, Coady and Bennett (who more or less played at the back and rarely ventured above halfway) blocked everything and denied City any room inside the 18 yard box.

Price and N’diaye did an equally important job ahead of them, preventing the assembled masses from unloading in those pockets of space just outside the penalty area.

The one criticism of the first half was how cheaply possession was surrendered, but as the Etihad grew increasingly agitated Wolves began to acclimatise.

Costa, Marshall and the sensational Vinagre (who contained Sterling and manipulated the ball under pressure superbly) all marauded forward and were only a final ball away from kicking down the door.

Bright will take the flack for his hat trick of failures but Costa frittered away an equally presentable opening that he was unable to lift over the inspired Bravo in the City goal.

Our flying winger still looks well short of match sharpness but this was a step in the right direction. The minutes and the confidence garnered will hopefully be the launch pad for his season.

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His replacement down the right Connor Ronan, another player still months shy of his 20th birthday, belied his years with a performance of true maturity.

Yes there were a few misplaced passes when the out ball wasn’t always on but his overall contribution was huge. The awareness to know their left back’s legs had gone in extra time and continually run in behind shows his intelligence.

And intelligence is something that summed up this team performance along with grit, determination and a relentless desire to compete.

But those latter adjectives all suggest effort rather than ability and this monumental effort was as much about footballing capacity as any of those raw materials.

We should all have woken up buoyant this morning, safe in the knowledge we already have the depth and quality any team could ever need to compete in the Premier League let alone campaign to get into it.

We’re going places, make no mistake about it.

Man City Vs Wolves Preview

As someone who dreams of Wembley this isn’t ideal.

The problem with Man City compared to some of the other top brass is their reserves are better than most Premier League sides.

Even if Nuno fields our best eleven, which I don’t think he will, they’re going to find the going tough.

We’ve got nothing to lose and all the jazz, but hopefully we make a game of it and push them at least some of the way.

Man City

I don’t need to tell you that Pep’s boys are steamrollering everyone. Saturday’s 3-0 win over Burnley was their 11th consecutive victory.

They’ve netted 32 goals in just 9 league matches and are yet to lose a single game in any competition.

Definitely due a defeat then. Splendid.

Sergio Aguero is working his way back to fitness so he may well play, looking for the goal that will make him their all time top scorer.

Some others who didn’t start at the weekend include Yaya Toure, Raheem Sterling, Ilkay Gündogan, Brazilian wonder-kid Gabriel Jesus and two time Champions League winner Danilo.

They needed a late Leroy Sane goal to overcome our stripey friends down the round in the previous round but will feel confident of easier progression on their own patch.

Wolves

Over to you Nuno. If it were me I’d play our strongest team as I couldn’t resist seeing what they could do against the very best. If he wanted to change a couple around, maybe this is a compromise:

I’ve got nothing against our reserve players by the way. Quite the opposite actually, I rate almost every one of them. It just comes down to consistency and giving us the best chance of being competitive.

All the summer recruits will be desperate to play. They didn’t jet in from Porto and Atletico Madrid to turn it on at Burton I imagine so they’ll want the spotlight.

That’s what I’m hoping anyway, as it increases the chances of the best players taking part. If they don’t though, at least they’ll be nice and rested for Saturday I suppose.

Predictions

Call me a dreamer if you like but I reckon we’ll…get totally smashed.

That’s no slight on our excellent team. I think the lads have got every chance of going there and acquitting themselves very well. I just think Man City are playing on another level to everyone else and you’ve got to back them for a comfortable victory.

Wolves have got to do what they’ve done very well already this season, look after the ball. City will likely dominate possession, but when we do get it, we’ve got to keep it and use it effectively.

Have a right good go lads.

Up The Wolves!

Wolves 3 Preston North End 2

If last week’s victory was a demonstration of Wolves’ ability to win beautifully, then this tempestuous fixture was the opposite.

Whether or not it had anything to do with the old adage of foreigners not liking wet and windy weather, many of our continental stars were off colour in the opening half.

Enough stray passes were played to make an untrained eye think that this was Paul Lambert’s Wolves side on display, and not the Nuno incarnation that has had us all purring of late.

Our own shortcomings aside, there’s no denying the credentials of our opposition.

Preston came with a gameplan and, much like Cardiff, executed it to perfection, though admittedly they were fortunate to have the mind bogglingly incompetent Stephen Martin on refereeing duties.

Questions were asked of Wolves, and for large parts of the game it was difficult to remain steadfast in the belief we would answer them.

Alas, this team appears to be capable of conjuring goals at will and did so at the death of a first half in which we had been second best.

The rejuvenated and oft celebrated Ivan Cavaleiro showed a striker’s instinct to tap over the line after the ball had ricocheted around the box, notching a goal which revitalised an otherwise sluggish home team.

One might argue that Leo Bonatini’s ensuing brace and the subsequent three goal advantage flattered Nuno’s side, but the majority of the 27,000 plus crowd cared little for justice at that point.

The Brazilian loanee is really starting to look the part and has proven the frivolous concerns of some regarding his ability to score goals to be just that. His nimble footwork, deceiving strength and excellent reading of the game makes him a key cog in our feverish front three and I’d like to see Fosun make his stay at Molineux permanent come the summer.

Our healthy cushion was not to last long, with the Lilywhites providing a perhaps timely reminder that, for all the resolve of the new look back three, we are still capable of conceding needless goals.

First, the impressive Jordan Hugill was given the freedom of Molineux and headed home a teasing cross before Roderick Miranda then conspired to miss a routine clearance and allow Preston to force home a sloppy own goal.

I’m a fan of Miranda, believing him to be one of the more underrated of our summer acquisitions, but he was our weakness for much of yesterday’s game. He’ll need to improve his concentration levels if he’s to fend off the returning Willy Boly’s claim for a place in the starting eleven.

What ensued after that carnage was an acid test of our resilience, with Preston dominating the ball and invoking some real backs to the wall defending. Connor Coady and Romain Saiss were particularly brilliant during this period, both using their gangly frames to help prevent disaster.

After we rode out a spell of seemingly endless pressure, the aforementioned Martin decided to allow the game to descend into farce by instigating a mass brawl between all sets of players. This culminated in the just sending off of Alan Browne and his hilarious ‘Where’s Wally?’ like efforts to find him after his quick trudge down the tunnel.

Some comic relief on an otherwise stressful, but no less gratifying, afternoon.

Though Nuno’s unlikely to have enjoyed this one quite as much as he did the Villa game, his team have nonetheless proven that they can win games one of two ways. History will tell you that’s an essential characteristic for any promotion chasing side to have, and whilst it remains early days it’s hard to contest the view that Wolves are looking ominously equipped to achieve their ambitions.