Given the nature of the scores on the opening weekend of the ‘most competitive league in the world’, you’d be forgiven for heading into tonight’s game with low expectations.
Villa’s shellacking at Newcastle aside, there were few surprises to be found within the first round of fixtures of the 23/24 Premier League season.
And yet, were we not so profligate in front of goal, it could have been oh so different.
Despite enduring a glib pre-season, Wolves produced a display against one of the division’s most expensively assembled teams that suggested there’s more cause for optimism than many of the forecasts would have you believe.
Gary O’Neil certainly showed his tactical acumen, despite only having a matter of days to prepare his new charges. This was a disciplined but, above all else, ambitious performance, as evidenced by our 23 shots on goal.
Of course, therein lies the problem. For all of our attacking verve, our long-standing Achilles’ heel remains. We just can’t score goals.
It’s a shame that Matheus Cunha was the biggest culprit on that front, as this was arguably his best performance to date in old gold. I’d be keen to see him play off either Kalajdzic or Silva in the coming weeks.
Gomes and Lemina were also impressive in the middle of the park, with Neto also offering a performance of real promise.
Ultimately, we were undone by a moment of quality that any top side can muster, with Ten Hag’s substitutions lifting an otherwise underwhelming performance from the home side.
O’Neil was aggrieved by the penalty that never was, but I still think it’s a really difficult one to call. On one hand, Onana has taken out two of our players but, on the other, if you’re awarding that, there’s going to be a lot of spot kicks given this season.
Either way, our fate was in our own hands and we’re going to need to be more clinical if we’re going to steer clear of a dogfight this season.
Alas, fine margins shouldn’t dampen what was a surprisingly encouraging performance. I think if we play like that more often than not we’ll be just fine.