Stan Cullis

Wolves 2-1 Aston Villa – Player Ratings

Wolves bounced back from their disappointing collapse against Leeds United with a sweet victory in the West Midlands derby against Aston Villa. A first half goal from Jonny Castro Otto combined with an Ashley Young own goal was enough to give Wolves all three points, but it was a nervy end to the game with Ollie Watkins pulling one back for Villa from the penalty spot five minutes from time. The score line certainly does not do Wolves’ performance justice and in truth, Bruno Lage’s men should have been out of site before the Villa goal. Ollie Watkins did have two golden chances earlier in the second half for Villa, but Jose Sa was equal to it. Wolves are firmly in the European hunt with just seven games to go, but they will need results elsewhere to go in their favour if they are to make it.

 

Jose Sa

Yet another superb display from Sa who played a huge role in Wolves’ victory in the second half. He made two excellent saves from Watkins and Cash to preserve the lead and can take little blame for what was a very dubious penalty. 8/10

 

Willy Boly

Recovered from a poor display against Leeds to show glimpses of the Willy Boly of old. For the most part he was calm and assured both with and without the ball. He did let Watkins in behind early in the second half but the England international placed his shot the wrong side of the post. 8/10

 

Conor Coady

An excellent display from Wolves’ captain who relishes these games and atmospheres. Coady was solid defensively and played a huge role in the final ten minutes as Wolves came under pressure with Villa searching for an equaliser. 8/10

 

Max Kilman

Restored to the side after being dropped for the defeat against Leeds. Kilman was impressive defensively and linked well with Moutinho and Dendoncker in possession too. Much more like it from Kilman following a difficult few games prior to the international break. 8/10

 

Jonny Otto

Two goals in two games for Jonny who has been a revelation since returning to the side in February. Playing on the right-hand side Jonny poses a far greater attacking threat than when on the left, combined with his usual assured defending, Jonny is proving just how much Wolves have missed him this season. 9/10

 

Joao Moutinho

Much was made about the absence of Ruben Neves prior to the game but Joao Moutinho certainly stepped up to the plate and delivered a masterclass in midfield play. His range of passing was excellent and almost everything Wolves did going forward came through him. Surely, he has one more year in him… 9/10

Leander Dendoncker

Dendoncker came into the side for the injured Neves and produced arguably his best performance of the season. Dendoncker was influential at both ends of the pitch and could have found himself on the scoresheet, but he sliced a good chance wide just before half time. 8/10

 

Marcal

Like Dendoncker, Marcal saved one of his best performances of the season for the derby at Molineux. He was relatively solid with few mistakes and produced an excellent cross for the second goal as Ashley Young could only divert into his own net. 8/10

 

Daniel Podence

Another good performance from Podence who was involved in almost every attacking move. He played a crucial role in the opening goal and got into several good positions, but the final ball and finish was often missing. 7/10

 

Fabio Silva

A rare start for Fabio Silva and the young forward certainly took his chance! Silva’s link up play was superb and played a huge role in Wolves’ victory. He will perhaps be disappointed with his chance just eight minutes into the game to put Wolves two goals to the good, but Silva can take great confidence from this display, continue this level of performance, and that goal will soon come. 8/10

 

Francisco Trincao

A deserved start after his impressive substitute appearance against Leeds and Trincao did not let Bruno Lage down. His final ball was at times frustrating, but his skill and trickery means Trincao took up some good positions and contributed to a huge result. 7/10

 

Subs:

Hwang Hee-Chan

A good cameo from Hwang who will be disappointed to see his effort mid-way through the second half go just wide of the post having done brilliantly to create the opportunity. His energy and intelligence in the press were important in the closing stages as Wolves held on to their lead. 7/10

 

Pedro Neto

An energetic cameo from Neto who was a useful outlet in the closing stages, getting Wolves up the pitch to relieve pressure on the back line. 6/10

 

Chiquinho

Came on for the final few minutes as Wolves held on for victory. N/A

 

Ciaran Barker is part of the Talking Wolves editorial team – you can follow him on Twitter here.

Billy Wright Stand Molineux

Ruben Neves – Wonderkid from Porto? Wolverhampton hero

Ruben Neves, undeniably special. A player who has simply encapsulated the hopes and dreams of Wolverhampton within his right foot. A player many consider to be the greatest since the legendary ‘Bully’ – the newest addition to the Wolverhampton icons catalogue.

Ruben joined his beloved Porto’s youth setup at the age of eight, bringing countless displays of footballing maturity at such a young age. For this reason, Julen Lopetegui invited the fresh-faced youngster to participate in the first team setup ahead of the 2014-15 campaign. Neves’ performances continued to impress; and the following season saw him become the youngest player to start in the Champions League at 18 years old. Despite his early success, Neves’ game time decreased in his final season with the Portuguese giants – much to the young maestro’s disappointment.

 

A young man, on the quest to prove his extraordinary potential on foreign land, took the plunge by joining Wolves in the summer of 2017. At the time, becoming the most expensive arrival in Championship history at a significant £16 million, sending the shockwaves throughout the rest of the league. The new-look Wolves didn’t just come to succeed, they came to dominate, and Neves was the jewel in the crown. The Championship winning season of 2017-18 will forever go down as one of the clubs’ greatest successes, the long-awaited promotion back to the big time, adjacent with the feeling of domestic dominance, Wolves were the kings again. Alongside accruing one of the highest points-tallies in the league’s history, a file of the greatest strikes was created under Ruben’s name solely. 30,000 stood in awe as Ruben painted pictures with a Mitre ball. The greatest of them all? Wednesday night, under the lights, you know the rest. Ruben struck Derby into disbelief, the greatest goal that Molineux had ever witnessed, a volley defying description.

 

Ruben Neves t-shirts out now

 

Wolves’ reintroduction to the Premier League brought Portuguese veteran, and legend, Joao Moutinho, forming one of the classiest midfield partnerships observed on Molineux soil.

The two brought a delightful mixture of composure and elegance, with fans pinching themselves upon the release of a team sheet. One astonishing season later and a 7th place finish, Wolverhampton Wanderers were back on the European stages. Ruben sat as the anchor of the Wolves midfield throughout a gruelling season, competing on multiple fronts, whilst maintaining a consistency that only the best are able to achieve. Yet the 2020/21 season was rocky for all involved with the football club, with player performances accurately reflecting the mood of the fans, deep within an unprecedented footballing landscape.

Nuno’s departure made space for Bruno Lage to enter the fray, giving Neves the licence to be free, a licence to kill. Ruben was freed from the shackles of the previous regime and given the platform to astonish the Molineux faithful once again. A delightful plethora of passing technique, partnered with an ease to dictate tempo (and some rather long hair), Neves has reached vintage Pirlo, perhaps a nod to his footballing idol. His quality is by no means only recognised by those of Wolverhampton, as is the case with any star, European goliaths remain sniffing for the Portuguese’s services. Transfer fees don’t represent his value; countless moments of fan emotion, bottled on his mantlepiece, sat alongside Player of the Year awards do instead. Underrated beyond belief, holding midfielders don’t come much better than Neves, and he just so happens to be at the core of the club we adore. Moreover, there is an unwavering loyalty from Ruben towards the club, a loyalty that is appreciated hugely. 24 years old, nearly four Premier League seasons and a Europa League run under his belt. Truly, a staggering talent, a future captain.

Watching Neves play in the old gold and black is beyond a pleasure, and long may it continue. Wonderkid from Porto? Wolverhampton hero. Nós te amamos, Ruben.

Sam Beeken is part of the Talking Wolves editorial team – you can follow him here

emirates

Arsenal 2-1 Wolves Match Report

Wolves’ trip to the capital ended in devastating fashion as two late goals punctured Wolves’ top four hopes. With both sides gunning for the Champions league places, it was the Gunners who came out on top, [providing a comfortable cushion from the chasing pack. Wolves were the outside bets to crash the top four party this season, but a loss at the hands of Arsenal all but managed to eliminate these chances entirely. 

This was unfortunately a result that we deserved, another opportunity missed, for me. Bruno started with a positive line-up, bringing Hwang in for Dendoncker in what otherwise, was an unchanged side. Bruno seemed to trust the Neves and Moutinho partnership rather than overloading the middle of the park, providing an opportunity for Hwang Hee-Chan to force himself back into contention following an injury lay-off. 

Similarly to the Spurs visit, the early Wolves press forced a mistake from the opposition back line, resulting in a dream start for Lage’s men and the travelling supporters as Wolves took the lead after just ten minutes. However, highlights for wolves were few and far between from this moment, there was a particularly alarming gulf in the quality of passing from either side. Arsenal managed to zip the ball around with confidence and accuracy, whereas Wolves opted for the unattractive long-ball tactic, to no avail unsurprisingly. 

One key reason for the little success was due to another poor performance from Raul Jimenez. Once again, the Mexican looked way off the mark, as every ball into him left at the feet of an Arsenal defender. This became increasingly evident as Raul was our out-ball, Traore’s departure means that Raul’s hold up play is prioritised when managing difficult away fixtures, but nothing was sticking. Missing a gilt-edge opportunity to put us in a commanding two-goal lead doesn’t help his argument to start either. This begs the question: what can Fabio Silva do to gain another run of starts in the Premier League? Wolves are currently competing in one competition, the Premier League. If Silva’s chances to start are limited to cup competitions only, the pressure of Jimenez’s performances is simply lifted. Silva’s cameos have displayed that currently, there is more to his game than our number nine. He holds the ball up, links play effectively and appears to have a great partnership with Daniel Podence, our man in form. 

Wolves have developed quite the reputation for stubborn defensive work and great game management this season, but last night’s showing reflected the game management of a certain Portuguese manager previous. Winning the ball back deep in our own box and launching hopeful balls that just invites more pressure. Typically, this tactic is adopted late on in the game to see a dogged performance to the end, seeing this from the 30th minute demonstrated such a lack of inspiration or belief to take the game to Arsenal. Heartbreak at the end, but a hugely disappointing performance. 

 

Key moments 

Wolves fans must have thought they were in dreamland after five minutes when Saiss poked home from an offside position during the second phase of a corner. Despite being disallowed, this provided momentum for the away side to attack the Gunners. As a result of the effective early press, Gabriel was forced to pass back towards his goalkeeper, and the loose ball was pounced on by the incoming Hwang Hee-Chan, who smartly rounded Ramsdale before slotting home from a narrow angle. 

Bar Hwang’s fine finish, clear cut chances were hard to come by, the only real one of not was Jimenez dragging a perfect opportunity well wide of the post. Aside from that, it was one way traffic in favour of Arsenal, and deservedly got their equaliser through Nicolas Pepe, with a brilliant turn and finish, in a sea of old gold. Wolves’ heartbreak was then secured after a Jose Sa own goal – mishandling a tame effort from Lacazette in the 95th minute, sending the Emirates into raptures.

 

Man of the match – Rayan Ait Nouri 

With an abundance of below par performances, finding a man of the match proved difficult. In a game of negative tactics, there were some real moments of positivity displayed by Rayan Ait-Nouri though. Whilst not all his forward runs resulted in a chance (sometimes conceding possession), it was welcome to see someone being confident on the ball, instead of opting for the easy punt up field with zero direction or intent to hit someone in gold. With Semedo unfortunately pulling up with a hamstring injury, there will be added onus for Rayan to inspire attacking phases, but a responsibility I think he’s more than mature enough to carry. Another good showing from our number 3. 

 

Things to improve on 

Another vital fixture is just around the corner, back to London for West Ham United. Again, a six pointer for those fighting for European football next season. In my opinion, bold changes are needed – the first of which being Fabio Silva in for Raul Jimenez. Raul hasn’t looked right all season, and five goals should not be an acceptable case to retain his position in the starting eleven. Secondly, win the midfield battle. It provides additional security whilst maintaining control of the tempo, something that was desperately missed against Arsenal. 

Simply not good enough, a reaction is needed. Onto the Hammers.

 

Sam Beeken is part of the Talking Wolves editorial team – you can follow him here

emirates

Arsenal 2-1 Wolves – Player Ratings

Wolves fell to a gut-wrenching late defeat at the Emirates Stadium on Thursday evening after a 95th minute Jose Sa own goal gave Arsenal their second victory of Bruno Lage’s men in just three weeks. Wolves started extremely well and took the lead through Hwang Hee Chan after just twelve minutes. However, Wolves failed to sustain their good start and were under pressure for most of the game. Despite all the possession, Arsenal created little in the way of clear-cut chances but drew level through Pepe with eight minutes to go. Just as the game looked to be closing out with an impressive draw for Wolves, Lacazette got the better of Romain Saiss, whose deflected effort was guided in by the outstretched arm of Sa. It was the worst possible way to lose a football match, but Wolves only have themselves to blame.

 

Jose Sa

An unusually nervy display from the Wolves shot stopper who did not look comfortable throughout the game. He came for a cross more than once but failed to claim and gave the ball away far too easily with his long distribution. He did pull off several good saves to make amends and could do little more with Lacazette’s late deflected strike. 6/10

 

Max Kilman

A solid defensive performance from Max Kilman who even had the acclaim of the Wolves fans in the second half. He, like many others, struggled to deal with the Arsenal press meaning Wolves lost possession in dangerous areas. 7/10

 

Conor Coady

Like Kilman, Coady was relatively solid throughout, but struggled to get a foothold in the game to keep possession. His surging run forwards in the second half was desperately unlucky to be pulled back for a ‘foul’ on Ben White. 6/10

 

Romain Saiss

Saiss struggled to deal with the pace of the Arsenal back line at times but often recovered with a last-ditch tackle in the area. He will be disappointed with his part in both goals as Lacazette got the better of him in the area. 5/10

 

Nelson Semedo

Dealt with almost everything that came his way defensively without having any real impact on the game with the ball. He was withdrawn on the hour mark with a hamstring injury. 6/10

 

Joao Moutinho

A poor performance from Moutinho who struggled with the pace and intensity of the game in the middle of the park. Wolves could not keep the ball in any area of the pitch but were also far too easy to get through in midfield. A game that perhaps highlights the lack of recruitment in midfield in recent transfer windows. 5/10

Ruben Neves

Failed to live up to the heights of recent performances, but this was no different to many others on the pitch. Neves tried to get on the ball and make things happen, but it simply would not stick for Wolves. He certainly tried to win the ball back wherever possible, but the Arsenal midfield were often too strong. 6/10

 

Rayan Ait-Nouri

One of Wolves’ better players on the pitch despite a few defensive mishaps. Looked to get on the ball wherever possible and wanted to get forward during the second half. His dangerous run in the final five minutes teed up Pedro Neto was a huge chance to win the game. 7/10

 

Daniel Podence

Wasn’t for the want of trying but Podence struggled to have any real impact on the game, not helped by the inability of his teammates to keep the ball around him. 6/10

 

Raul Jimenez

There was certainly some warranted criticism for Jimenez after another sub-standard performance. He has failed to kick on from his goal against Tottenham and this was a big contributing factor to Wolves’ poor performance. 5/10

 

Hwang Hee Chan

Easily Wolves’ best player on the pitch whose endeavour to press Arsenal high up the pitch and win the ball back in dangerous areas led to almost every chance Wolves created. He got his deserved early goal and could easily have had a second early in the second half. 8/10

 

Subs:

Jonny Castro Otto

A very welcome sight to see Jonny back on the pitch after his injury nightmare in the past two years. He played at right back replacing the injured Nelson Semedo and was solid for his half an hour cameo. More importantly he looked sharp and match fit, a huge boost for Wolves in the final third of the season. 7/10

 

Pedro Neto

Desperately unlucky not to put Wolves back in front with just minutes remaining in an effort that should have resulted in a corner. He was lively and, like Jonny, will be a massive boost for Wolves in the closing stages of the season. 7/10

 

Leander Dendoncker

Played the final moments of the game as Wolves tried and failed to hold on to their point. N/A

 

Ciaran Barker is part of the Talking Wolves editorial team – you can follow him on Twitter here.

Steve Bull Stand

Wolves 0-1 Arsenal Match Report

A frustrating evening ended as Wolves fell 0-1 to Arsenal in an important fixture under the lights at Molineux. The Arsenal defence faced an onslaught in the final period following a red card, but Wolves were unable to capitalise on the opportunity. With both sides on the hunt to consolidate their ambition for European football, it was the visitors who left with all three points – much to the disappointment of Wolves. 

A minor calf issue for Joao Moutinho saw Dendoncker line up with Neves in a midfield two, with a re-introduction for Romain Saiss, after his great showing at AFCON. Raul Jimenez started up top with Trincao and an in-form Daniel Podence. In a similar vein to his current form, Podence was the bright spark for Wolves during the first half, drawing many a foul with his trickery and intelligent movement. Trincao and Jimenez on the other hand, struggled to stamp their authority on the fixture once again – marshalled out of the game by White and Gabriel, in a very confident showing from the Arsenal pair. It was particularly frustrating that Wolves failed to target booked players, with both Xhaka and Thomas Partey cautioned within the game, I was surprised to see the lack of action through the centre of the field.

Possession seemed a key factor for Wolves, as the home side held much of it, but having very little in terms of chances on goal to show for it. Arsenal seemed relatively comfortable with allowing Wolves time on the ball, as the home side were causing little panic for their defensive unit. Even after a red card for Martinelli’s petulant fouls in the same passage of play, Wolves severely lacked any creativity to unlock the Arsenal defence. The contest was even overall, with neither side having too many chances to write home about, but it was the red card that allowed the visitors to sit back soak up the remainder of what Wolves had to give. 

Arguably Wolves’ biggest game of the season so far, and it feels like a huge opportunity missed. The away side went down to ten for the final twenty minutes, and all Wolves could conjure up was a barrage of crosses, defended simply by the visitors in what looked like a training drill. A chance missed to close the gap on those ahead, and a chance missed to cement our bid for European football next season.

 

Key Moments 

Wolves had built a good reputation for not conceding set pieces this season, but four set-piece goals have been conceded from the last four fixtures. This time, succeeding a scramble in the goal mouth, Gabriel poked home for the Gunners in the 26th minute. A disappointing manner for Lage’s men to concede after some decent spells of possession during the first period. Clear cut chances for either side were few and far between, with both goalkeepers having an easy day at the office. Gabriel Martinelli managed to change the complexion of the game within fifteen seconds, with a childish display of fouls resulting in Arsenal’s 101st dismissal of the Premier League era. Unfortunately, Wolves’ feeble attempts to equalise left much to be desired, as Arsenal comfortably sailed towards an important away victory. 

 

Man of the match  – Daniel Podence

There was precious little to choose from for standout performances, the attacking movement was lacking, midfield was conservative, and the defensive unit failed to keep out the Gunners’ only decent opportunity. Daniel Podence was a livewire during the first half, giving Cedric Soares nightmares, with the Arsenal defender somehow escaping a booking. Podence looked like the only one attempting to fashion a different opening than an aimless cross that as simply headed away. In a game where we didn’t cause trouble for Arsenal, one man did. Another deserved mention for the little man, in a hugely uninspiring front line. 

 

Improvements 

You could be blind and still see Wolves are in dire need of creativity. Whether this be from a new, dynamic midfielder that can unlock defences, or a change in attacking patterns, an alternative is needed. We’ve become too predictable again, sideways passing towards the wingbacks, before a cross is fired in that doesn’t clear the first man. When it does? No-one is there to attack it. The push for European football is still possible, but points are needed desperately from the February fixtures.

 

Sam Beeken is part of the Talking Wolves editorial team – you can follow him here

bet mate

Betmate announced as Talking Wolves’ official channel partner

Talking Wolves are delighted to announce Betmate as official channel partner.

Betmate is a social fantasy football betting app that allows you to bet against other people’s team selections across a number of top leagues around the world. Not only that, the best thing about Betmate is that there is ALWAYS a winner.

Entry fees for games range from £1-£10, with 90% of the money going into the prize pot that will be split between the top-scoring users.

Talking Wolves will be producing their own Betmate games throughout the month for you to get involved in and we’ll be discussing our team selections and where we feel we went right and wrong on the podcast.

Unlike traditional bookmakers, Betmate allows you to bet against your mates, rather than betting against the bookies. Betmate still promotes responsible gambling, with cool-off periods and deposit limits available within the app too.

Betmate offers a range of game modes too, from Head-to-Head games, which allows participants to pick their fantasy team of six players between two teams that are playing to Multi Fixture Games which combines all of the fixtures over a weekend.

Betmate updates the leaderboards in real-time unlike most fantasy football apps, including substitutions.

All is fair on Betmate

Traditional fantasy football apps rely heavily on goals and clean sheets to score points but Betmates rewards players for actions such as interceptions and tackles too, meaning picking your six-man team just got a whole lot more strategic.

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How to sign up on Betmate

Wolves fans can sign up by clicking this link. Downloading the app and signing up is a simple process that takes two minutes!

Think you can beat Talking Wolves? Sign up today and join the FREE to enter prize pot for Wolves’ game vs Arsenal on Thursday for your chance to win a share of £200.

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Wolves stadium

Jeong Sang-bin – Who is Wolves’ new signing?

by Matt Cooper & Dave Azzopardi

Wolves completed the signing of promising South Korean forward Jeong Sang-bin earlier in the week from K-League outfit Suwon Samsung Bluewings. The 19-year-old is highly thought of and will join affiliate club Grasshopper Club Zurich on an 18-month-loan.

We caught up with South Korean football journalist Sungmo Lee as he gave us the low down on Wolves’ new signing.

Embed from Getty Images

1. Wolves have signed Jeong Sang-bin. What sort of player is he? What is his play style?

He has a nickname of ‘Korean Mbappe’, pretty much explains his playstyle. He’s fast, skilful, and also most importantly, very clever. For example, he scored his K-league debut goal, by shooting between the defender’s two legs in front of him. He scored on his K-League debut andalso scored on his international team debut.

2. What would you say his strongest positions are?

He’s a winger, but also can play as second-top striker. He’s very versatile and still very young, so I believe he could be developed to play any position across the front free. I would say Bruno Lage is keen on using wide forwards and he always says in press conference that he wants to have at least four wingers at his club. It really does feel like the ideal move for Jeong Sang-bin.

3. Do you think he will suit the English Premier League or is a move to the Swiss league a good move for him right now?

I believe he will definitely have a big future in England, but it’s a wise decision for Wolves and Jung as well, to let him have more experience in Europe before he eventually plays for Wolves.

Wolves fans  have already seen two Korean wingers in Seol Ki Hyun and Hwang Hee Chan so he is in esteemed company!

4. What is his reputation like in South Korea?

He was the best young player in K-league last season, and he’s regarded as ‘next big talent’ from South Korea. Korean fans are very excited to see his development at Wolves.

5. Sang-Bin is now the second South Korean that Wolves have signed this season. What has the coverage of Wolves been like over there this season?

There’s growing interest from South Korean fans for Wolves.  South Korean fans have watched Hwang eagerly this season and were really concerned to find out he was injured. With Hwang’s permanent move, and Jung’s transfer, Wolves’ games will be watched more and more by Korean fans as time goes by.

Despite fans being frustrated that it’s not a signing for the here and now, it seems like a shrewd piece of business by Wolves to acquire such a highly thought of talent with a lot of potential. It will be interesting to see how he develops in Switzerland.

 

 

1280px-Brentford_Community_Stadium_2020

Brentford 1-2 Wolves – Player Ratings

Wolves continued their good form with a 2-1 victory over Brentford in Wanderers first visit to the Brentford Community Stadium. It was a bizarre first half which saw 19 minutes of added time following a nasty clash of heads between two Brentford defenders before an ‘unofficial drone’ stopped play again. The second half however was all about the action on the pitch. A superb finish from Joao Moutinho put Wolves ahead before Ivan Toney converted a free kick to level the scores. The goal was the direct result of a foul by Toti Gomes who was initially sent off, but the decision was overturned by VAR. Wolves won it with twelve minutes to go with Ruben Neves’ 20-yard strike. Traore had the ball in the net in stoppage time in what was possibly his final game in a Wolves shirt, but Var ruled that he was just offside. Wolves now have a two week break before their next encounter, an FA Cup tie at home to Norwich.

 

Jose Sa

Sa had little to deal with in terms of shots on goal but commanded his area very well against a physical Brentford side. Wolves’ relative ease at defending throw ins and corners will partly be down to his organisation and dominance. 8/10

 

Max Kilman

Another good defensive performance from Kilman who has established himself as Wolves’ most consistent performer. He dealt with everything that was thrown at him and looked comfortable on the ball despite an intense Brentford press. 8/10

 

Conor Coady

Defended well and, like Kilman, managed to keep the ball well despite a high press. Coady will also have played a crucial role in ensuring the players did not lose concentration during long stoppages in the first half. 8/10

 

Toti Gomes

Kept his place after an impressive debut and certainly did not let the team down here. He defended well and did not look out of place at any moment. He will be relieved to see his red card overturned as it looks increasingly likely he will stay at Molineux for the rest of the season. 8/10

 

Nelson Semedo

An excellent performance from Semedo who continues his impressive upturn in form. He was arguably Wolves’ most influential player going forwards, using width to great effect and looking to link with the midfield where possible. It was his combination with Moutinho that led to the first goal and his good work down the right which created the second. 9/10

 

Leander Dendoncker

Kept his place in the starting XI despite the return of Ruben Neves as Bruno Lage opted for a three-man midfield to match their opponents. Dendoncker was incredibly effective defensively, easing the pressure on the back three acting as a last man in a low block midfield. He was also good in the air as Wolves dealt with Brentford’s set pieces with relative ease. 8/10

 

Joao Moutinho

A performance the oozed class as Moutinho continues to shine this season. His goal was one of real quality, finishing with the outside of his foot giving the keeper no chance. 9/10

Ruben Neves

Returned to the team following a COVID-19 related absence last week. He did not waste any time bedding back in and produced a masterclass in midfield play alongside Moutinho which ultimately provided the platform for Wolves to win the game. 9/10

 

Rayan Ait-Nouri

A quieter afternoon for Ait-Nouri with most Wolves’ play coming down the right-hand side. He dealt with everything that came his way and looks increasingly assured defensively. It is certainly not a foregone conclusion that Jonny will return to the team when fit given the form of Ait-Nouri. 7/10

 

Fabio Silva

Handed a rare Premier League start with Raul Jimenez missing out as a precaution. He was lively up front but had little impact on the game with the ball. 7/10

 

Daniel Podence

Like Silva, Podence was quiet and had little impact on the game with most of Wolves’ play coming from the midfield and Nelson Semedo. He did however work extremely hard to ensure Brentford could not play out from the back too easy. 7/10

 

Subs:

Adama Traore

There is a good chance that Adama Traore may have played his last game in a Wolves shirt, and it is certainly fitting that it was win if that is to be the case. He will no doubt be gutted that his goal with just minutes remaining was just offside, but Traore has been an excellent servant over 3 and a half years and will no doubt be missed. 8/10

 

Francisco Trincao

Played the final moments, providing fresh legs up front as Wolves looked to see out the win. N/A

 

Ciaran Barker is part of the Talking Wolves editorial team – you can follow him on Twitter here.

Steve Bull Stand

Wolves 3-1 Southampton – Player Ratings

Wolves continued their good form with a 3-1 victory over Southampton at Molineux on Saturday. Wolves took the lead mid-way through the first half with a calmly dispatched Raul Jimenez penalty after a rare VAR intervention in Wolves’ favour. Jose Sa pulled off several good saves to maintain Wolves’ lead before Conor Coady netted in front of the Southbank to make it two. A stunning free kick from James Ward-Prowse gave the Saints hope with ten minutes to go, but substitute Adama Traore slotted home the third in stoppage time to round off the victory. Bruno Lage’s men remain eighth and are firmly in the hunt for a European place ahead of next week’s trip to Brentford

 

Jose Sa

Played a huge part in Wolves’ victory with two excellent saves before half time to maintain Wolves’ lead. He was calm and assured throughout and is finally getting the recognition he deserves in the media. 9/10

 

Max Kilman

Yet another superb defensive display from Wolves’ latest hero. Kilman did everything that was required of him with ease and looked assured on the ball. He was desperately unlucky to see his looping header hit the post, but with performances like this, those ‘Kilman for England’ chants will only get louder. 9/10

 

Conor Coady

Another good display from the Wolves captain who had a memorable moment with his goal in front of the Southbank in the second half. He doesn’t score many, but his goal is just reward for his fine form this season. 9/10

 

Toti Gomes

A surprise inclusion having been recalled from Grasshoppers at the start of January, but Gomes repaid the faith of Bruno Lage who admitted he did not know anything about the Portuguese defender at the beginning of the month. Defensively, he was brilliant, and despite giving the ball away in possession, Gomes had as good a debut as he could have hoped for. 8/10

 

Nelson Semedo

A quiet afternoon for the Wolves right wing back who was solid and linked play well. He didn’t have the attacking influence we have seen in recent weeks but another good performance none the less. 7/10

 

Leander Dendoncker

Kept his place in the starting XI as Ruben Neves missed out with COVID-19. The Belgian midfielder put in a good performance, breaking up play and proving an effective aerial presence. He did however, slow the pace of play down particularly in the first half. 7/10

 

Joao Moutinho

Continued his good form with another performance full of class and quality which we have come to expect. Moutinho orchestrated the midfield with ease despite the loss of Neves alongside him. 8/10

 

Rayan Ait-Nouri

Ait-Nouri produced another excellent display, and like many others is arguably in the best form of his Wolves career. He won the ball back on several occasions and linked play well going forwards.  8/10

 

Francisco Trincao

Trincao was largely anonymous for most of his time on the pitch. He had little influence on the front three and despite some nice touches, is not staking a claim for a starting place with the imminent return of Pedro Neto.  6/10

 

Raul Jimenez

A much-improved performance from Jimenez following a recent dip in form. Jimenez linked play well and lead the press from the front. He dispatched his penalty well in the usual style to set Wolves on their way. 8/10

 

Daniel Podence

A quieter performance from Podence following his two goals against Sheffield United last week. He looked good on the ball and looked to bring Jimenez and Trincao into play when possible. 7/10

 

Subs:

Adama Traore

A very good cameo from the bench from Traore as speculation continues over his future. Traore missed a glaring chance with just minutes to go but finally got this first Premier League goal of the season, slotting home with his weaker foot in stoppage time. 8/10

 

Fabio Silva

Yet another impressive cameo from Fabio Silva who was very effective at getting Wolves higher up the pitch in the closing stages. He produced an excellent piece of skill to create a chance for himself which was well saved. 8/10

 

Luke Cundle

Came on for the final minute of the game for his Premier League debut. N/A

 

Ciaran Barker is part of the Talking Wolves editorial team – you can follow him on Twitter here.

 

Wolves stadium

Wolves 3-1 Southampton Match Report

Four goals at Molineux, a treat from Bruno’s Wolves in another convincing victory, as they overcame a Southampton side in good form. Wolves took the opportunity to maintain pressure on those ahead of them this season, keeping those European dreams of seasons past well and truly alive. Finally, the Wolves have left their teething phase in their Prem campaign, they’re on the hunt for the top six.

Upon arrival, the team sheet probably surprised every single Wolves fan, as Neves was out with COVID and Toti Gomes was brought in for his Wolves debut. Quite the step up from the quality of opponent he was used to at Grasshoppers, nonetheless, Toti (with the ever-present support from our captain) looked like a seasoned member of the Premier League; certainly, a debut to be proud of. The reason Lage gave for not playing Leander Dendoncker at centre-back was to maintain the system they had been working on, and instead opted for the Belgian to operate from his more comfortable station if midfield.

Despite the result conveying a relatively comfortable afternoon at the office for Wolves, this was far from the truth in the first half. Southampton raced out of the blocks with an intense pressure, causing Wolves problems in possession – conceding four early corners, but these were defended confidently despite quality of delivery. A combination of poor touches and lacklustre passing frustrated fans in the first half particularly, but this was soon rectified in the second period of play, as Wolves took control of the game and highlighted the difference in quality between the two sides. Key performances from Coady, Kilman and Jose Sa kept Southampton at bay, with the away side needing a piece of alien-like brilliance to prevent yet another clean-sheet for the home side. 

One performance stood out from the rest, that being the one of Michael Salisbury. That first half was possibly up there with one of the worst officiating performances I had witnessed at Molineux. Six blatant fouls weren’t given against Saints players, and it took the involvement of VAR (not hugely popular amongst the Wolves faithful) to overturn Salisbury’s original penalty decision. It’s a topic that’s discussed widely across the league, but the standard of officiating this season most notably, is deteriorating rapidly, and you know it’s poor when I mention it following a 3-1 victory.

 

Key moments

Proceeding the VAR decision to award Wolves a penalty ten minutes before the break, Raul Jimenez calmly dispatched his fourth goal of the Premier League season; a much-needed confidence boost our star man. Not long after the break Wolves made it two, Forster was caught out as Kilman looped an effort towards the far post, before Conor Coady headed home from two yards out, and a due reward for what’s been an incredible season so far. James Ward-Prowse decided it was time for another goal of the season nomination, with the best goal I’ve ever seen live, period. This gave the Saints a foothold back into the contest, yet all hopes of a draw were ended as Adama Traore (finally) gained an ounce of composure in front of goal. The winger slotted home his first goal of the season. Even those who want him sold enjoyed that one, right?

 

Man of the Match – Conor Coady 

 

No player had an outstanding performance as such, but my man of the match is his first of the season: Conor Coady. His league goal in front of the South Bank was a moment a long time coming, but the MOTOM award isn’t because of this. Coady had a young, inexperienced centre-half by his side, who had been in the country less than two weeks. I closely watched the partnership of him and Toti yesterday, and I genuinely don’t think there’s a player in the league who can make a debutant feel more comfortable in that context than Conor. Last season, Coady was a captain with incredible leadership quality, but many questioned his footballing ability. He must be in contention for most improved player of the season, leading though exemplary performances in addition to his elite mentality. What a person, what a player, what a captain.

 

Improvements 

The first half highlighted our struggle to deal with a quickly enforced press, sloppy passing and hesitation on the ball caused for too many turnovers in possession. Additionally, we had a cluster of counter attacks that demonstrated our ability to move the ball quickly and efficiently, but this wasn’t common enough. Overall, it was a good performance but there’s just an element of complacency to tidy up before Brentford. Three goals at Molineux, though, I can’t complain too much.

 

Sam Beeken is part of the Talking Wolves editorial team – you can follow him here