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Wolves 3-0 Sheffield United – Player Ratings

Wolves progressed into the fourth round of the FA Cup with ease following a 3-0 demolition of Championship side Sheffield United at Molineux. Bruno Lage fielded a strong side following Monday’s victory at Old Trafford, and his Wolves team have been rewarded with another home time, this time against a struggling Norwich side in round four. Following a nervy start to the game, Daniel Podence set Wolves on their way giving thanks to good work from Fabio Silva. A superb second goal finished by Nelson Semedo made the game comfortable before Podence rounded the scoring off with his second of the day.

 

John Ruddy

Wolves’ back up goalkeeper proved his worth with several good saves to ensure the game remained comfortable. His save from Billy Sharp’s close-range effort shortly after the second goal ensured Wolves could relax for the closing stages of the game. 8/10

 

Max Kilman

Yet another faultless display from Kilman whose consistency is quite something. He did all that was required of him defensively and looked to get involved in attacks where possible. That England call up can’t be far away. 8/10

 

Conor Coady

Coady, like Kilman, produced a faultless display at the heart of the defence. His ball distribution was excellent and played a big part in the build up to the Wolves goals. Following a shaky start, Coady may well be having the best season of his career. 8/10

 

Marcal

Played the first half on the left side of the back three but was withdrawn at half time as a precaution. Marcal gave the ball away in a dangerous area on more than one occasion but recovered well to ensure the clean sheet remained intact.  7/10

 

Nelson Semedo

Another excellent display from Nelson Semedo who has really started to prove his worth this season. His link up play down the right flank was superb and he was faultless defensively. His determination to get on the end of Ait-Nouri’s cross for the second gaol summed up his performance. 9/10

 

Leander Dendoncker

Played alongside Neves in the midfield in the first half, often breaking play up and allowing Neves the space to be creative on the ball. He then moved to the right-hand side of the back three for the second 45 minutes and looked assured, proving an effective aerial presence when defending. 7/10

 

Ruben Neves

Another superb display from Neves in the Wolves midfield who may just be in the form of his Wolves career now. His passing range was a joy to behold, and the Sheffield United midfield did not know what to do with him. 8/10

 

Rayan Ait-Nouri

Back following injury and back to the promising form his showed at the start of the season. Ait-Nouri was determined and direct, looking to take players on and get to the by-line. His cross to Semedo for the second goal was weighted perfectly. He has certainly staked a claim for a start against Southampton on Saturday. 8/10

 

Adama Traore

A surprise inclusion following mounting speculation of a move away from Molineux this month. Traore was not afraid to get on the ball but was largely ineffective with it. He seemed reluctant to take players on out wide, often coming infield to more crowded areas. He certainly gave the United defenders something to think about, but it just didn’t quite come off for him. 7/10

 

Fabio Silva

An excellent performance from Fabio Silva who felt the appreciation of the Molineux crowd for the first time when he was substituted in the second half. His link up play with Podence was extremely pleasing and ultimately created the first goal. With Raul not in the best form, Silva may soon be knocking on the door for a Premier League start. 8/10

 

Daniel Podence

Without doubt the best player on the pitch. Podence’s movement on and off the ball was mesmerising, leaving the Sheffield United defence dumbstruck. He will be delighted to get on the scoresheet again, having been prolific in the League cup earlier in the season too. 9/10

 

Subs:

Joao Moutinho

Played the second half and produced the calm and assured midfield display we have come to expect. It certainly wasn’t the most difficult 45 minutes of football he will have played, and he is likely to regain his place in the starting XI for the game against Southampton. 7/10

 

Raul Jimenez

Linked play well with the midfield and wing backs but couldn’t fashion a clear-cut chance to get on the scoresheet. He will be keen to rediscover his form following the impressive display from Silva. 7/10

 

Francisco Trincao

An impressive cameo from Trincao who went on several dazzling runs through the midfield and defence. As has often been the case this season, Trincao’s end product was lacking, often holding on to the ball too long or opting to shoot when the pass is the better option. 7/10

 

Bruno Jordao

Will be delighted to get back into first team action following two serious injuries. Bruno Lage is thought to be impressed with Jordao and this is unlikely to be the last time we see him this season. N/A

 

Luke Cundle

Similar to Jordao, Bruno Lage is thought to be a big fan of academy graduate Luke Cundle, who has been on the bench numerous times this season. He came on for the final five minutes in the front three and looked calm and confident on the ball. N/A

 

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

Old Trafford

Manchester United 0-1 Wolves Match Report

A game, result and performance that will be etched into the Wolves history books for years to come. Wolverhampton Wanderers leave Old Trafford victorious for the first time during the Premier League era after their 0-1 win. Top class performances littered the field as Joao Moutinho turned his Manchester playground into the Theatre of Nightmares, striking home eight minutes from time, sending the travelling fans into bank holiday ecstasy.

Embed from Getty Images 

The combination of positive COVID cases and injuries have caused many a postponement during the congested winter period, as Wolves faced after a two-week layoff from fixtures. Their return was against a Manchester United side under new management, with Ralf Rangnick at the helm. The German is notoriously recognised for his aggressive Gegen-press style of football, yet the evidence of this from this performance was lacking hugely. From minute one, United were unable to keep up with the pace of Lage’s Wolves. Neves and Moutinho schooled Matic and McTominay in their own backyard, through a lesson of midfield mastery, winding the clocks back to their debut season together in the Premier League. 

Lage opted for Trincao and Daniel Podence over Adama Traore, who was perhaps left out due to the ongoing transfer speculation that surrounds him, or perhaps to be utilised as an effective substitute later in the affair. Following a string of uninspiring performances, Wolves fans may have questioned the choice of Trincao, but the loanee decided to get more physical than usual, whilst registering another handful of nutmegs doing so – hopefully a sign towards further improvements for the Barca boy. The defence remained unchanged and for good reason, another clean sheet to add to their already impressive tally this season – resolute when called upon, but the midfield prevented most of the concern, against two of the best forwards of this generation. 

However, one performance stood out to me and not in the positive sense I had initially hoped for. For me, Raul Jimenez was chasing shadows, there were a couple of moments where he linked up nicely with Trincao and Podence, but something isn’t quite clicking for the Mexican Sensation. Although his movement wasn’t particularly poor, chances on goal are few and far between, and those chances are often flagged offside. Considering the lack of game time and the reported issues with Fabio Silva’s application to warm up, he performed excellently in his late cameo, barring the silly foul, the game management for someone his age was impressive to see.

 

Key Moments

Wolves’ recent performances have been those of defensive focus, their poor eye for goal has resulted in the recognised label of: “well that’ll be last on Match of the Day.” Therefore, for Wolves to be the team to have the most shots at Old Trafford in the first half of a league game since 03/04 (@OptaJoe on Twitter), was a surprising, yet welcome spectacle. Neves had an audacious goal of the month attempt prevented by a David De Gea early on, combined with a couple of early attempts from the heavily involved Podence. A short rally from United was born after Fernandes rattled the crossbar and CR7 decided he was too good for the offside rule. But it was our own Portuguese veteran that stunned the Theatre of Dreams into a sea of insomnia, as Moutinho fired Wolves ahead late in the game.

 

Man of the match –  Joao Moutinho

Daniel Podence is quickly becoming a fan favourite amongst Wolves fans, another electric performance from the little wizard, intricate passing and his low centre of gravity caused trouble all night long. However, another little genius gets my man of the match. Last season, many wrote Joao “no legs” Moutinho off, including myself. Lage must be promising some quality vino for our midfield mastermind, Joao is playing like a man possessed. Exquisite passing, strong in the tackle, progressive ball carrying, and a goal to top off an easy night at the office for this god amongst men. Truly football heaven.  

 

Things to improve on

For the first time this season, I collectively couldn’t have wished for more from Wolves. Tactical astuteness from Lage, effective substitutions, immense work rate and the quality to comfortably beat the second most expensive squad in Europe. Of course, we can hope for more goals, but if my manager says the goals will come, I will believe every word that he says. Differently, outside of the pitch, there are improvements to be made. Upon evaluation of the board’s current intentions, Lage will almost certainly be frustrated. There are the foundations to really achieve with Bruno in charge, three quality additions are all we need. The transfer strategy will not dampen this result in the slightest though. Thank you, lads. We’ll remember this one for a while.

 

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

Amex Stadium

Brighton 0-1 Wolves Match Report

3000 fans made the gruelling five-hour trip to the south coast, to see their beloved Wolves both score a football goal and win the football game. Wolves came out victors over a Brighton team, ravaged by injuries, COVID isolations and suspensions. The win came as great relief for fans who hadn’t seen a goal in over 400 minutes of action, with Romain Saiss, the ‘Moroccan Maldini’ coming in clutch for the boys in old gold.

Reaction

Disappointingly, the in-from Rayan Ait Nouri sustained a groin injury in the warm-up, so Marcal entered the fray, alongside Podence and Trincao due to Raul Jimenez’ suspension. The three in midfield was sacrificed from Saturday’s game in Manchester, to provide more threat up top, with Hwang Hee-Chan spearheading the attack, until the 15th minute after pulling up with a hamstring issue. 30 minutes of some honestly dire football from both sides was to come, with Brighton having a couple of half chances but nothing to worry Sa in the slightest. Wolves were unable to impose their style on the game, lacking strong moments of possession, with no chances on goal to write home about. The back line three were brilliantly stubborn once again, and typically, it was a defender to provide the accomplished finish, finally giving Wolves’ fans something to cheer about. It is widely understood that a key time to score a goal is just before the break, a sucker-punch goal that changes the opposition’s team talks. All that was needed was that one goal, the second half confidence was levels above those seen in the first. The press was re-born, and the pack caught some unsuspecting seagulls truly lacking. Premier League debutant referee: Tony Harrington, had a night to forget with a multitude of technical difficulties, but entertainment was sharply delivered by a keepy-up fest during the hold up, under the noses of the adoring away support.

Rather unfairly, Adama Traore has fallen victim to some harsh criticism this season, regarding the decision making and effort levels produced, Brighton was the night he truly shut the critics up. Neutrals will see zero goal involvements all season and will go to town with the ‘pace merchant’ slander, but true Wolves fans recognise that it could be so different providing the rest of the team had finishing ability. Moreover, Podence provided some much-needed energy going forward, again just missing the golden touch in front of goal. Trincao was anonymous unfortunately, seeming to struggle with the physicality of the Premier League, there’s something there with Francisco though, Wolves are just yet to see it.

Key moments

Until a shockingly poor corner from Marcal found its way to the magician that is Ruben Neves, the game was severely lacking quality – not a game for the neutral. Neves then clipped a sumptuous pass over the top of Yves Bissouma, taking eight Brighton players out of the game as Romain Saiss calmly places the ball past Sanchez with his weak foot. The second-phase work behind the scenes, conducted by Tony Roberts seems to be paying dividends for Wolves, with the goals against Brighton and Aston Villa acting as perfect case studies. Backs against the wall for the final ten is something us fans have become accustomed to over the past couple of years, last night was different though, Brighton would not find a way through, Lage is working defensive wonders.

Man of the match

Not only for scoring the first goal in five games, but a stellar defensive performance to match, Romain Saiss deserves all the credit coming his way recently. Alongside Coady and Kilman, the back three have made Wolves fans reconsider where the money should be spent in the upcoming transfer windows. Saiss took his goal brilliantly, and I’m convinced there aren’t many better ball strikers at the club than the Moroccan Maldini – being extremely close to a second, rocketing one off the inside of the post. Safe to say, if AFCON goes ahead, we’re going to miss Romain. Give him another year on his deal already.

Improvements

Despite scoring, it should have been two or three, our finishing still needs a lot of work. One on ones, as I doubt there are many more clubs who have missed more of them than Wolves this season, then chances can be created, the chances just aren’t being converted. Additionally, there were many moments in the first half where too many touches are being taken on the ball before the next pass. Effective link-up play requires quick decision making, to draw the opposition out of their shape, instead, we gave too much time for Brighton in this instance to regain theirs. However, a win’s a win, onto the European champions.

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

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Wolves 0-1 Liverpool Match Report

With Jota back at Molineux on his birthday, Wolves fans feared the worst. But those in attendance were pleasantly surprised with the fight on display as they fell late on to title-hunting Liverpool. Origi added to his ever-growing portfolio of clutch moments for the reds, inflicting damage in the dying moments, following a titanic defensive performance against one of the best teams on the planet. More importantly, the West Midlands teams put rivalry aside, as we remembered Arthur Labinjo-Hughes in a matchday tribute during the 6th minute.

 

After spending three days quietly concerned for how many Liverpool would put past us, the team was released, and confidence came from nowhere. Following his suspension, Neves returned for Moutinho, whilst Adama kept his place in the starting eleven. Much to the relief of Wolves fans, Liverpool were hugely off their game offensively, conceding possession too easily and not creating enough in terms of goal-scoring opportunities. Wolves held the ball well in spells whilst nullifying the likes of Salah, Mane, and the returning Diogo Jota for the first 20 minutes or so. Klopp’s men demonstrated their class soon afterwards, with arguably the best midfield in the world currently, Thiago and Henderson had the pack chasing side to side. 

 

Unfortunately, despite the spells of possession in the first half, Wolves were unable to fashion any openings to test Alisson properly. There was a clear tactic was to utilise Adama as the out-ball, once enough Liverpool pressure had been soaked and possession was regained, a long ball was fired up to Traore, to engage in a tussle with either of the reds centre halves. Thanks to his freakish physical attributes, this worked a few times as a worried Van Dijk resorted to putting the ball into touch. 

 

Again though, similarly to the Burnley match, Wolves’ positives remained in the defensive areas, with this art of defending episode provided by yours truly: Conor Coady. Saiss and Kilman were exceptional once again, with Saiss preventing an almost certain tap in from the form-man right now, Mohamed Salah. But our captain will receive the majority of my praise with one of the greatest goal line clearances anyone will see. Jota capitalised on a moment of miscommunication from Saiss and Sa, finding himself running in on an open goal with only a helpless Kilman and Coady to beat. What came next epitomised the word sacrifice, with Conor Coady leaving everything on the goal line.

Key moments

 

Aside from Jota’s back post header, and the square ball with Saiss doing enough to prevent Salah, the back five were immense in keeping Liverpool’s world class talent quiet for 45 minutes. The second half became a game of maintaining a compact defensive unit and using Adama’s pace and physicality to generate counter opportunities. Managing to weather the storm for 94 minutes, Van Dijk reached Salah with a long-range pass, and the Egyptian’s touch took it way away from Hoever, who then found Origi, smartly finishing on the turn to send the Steve Bull lower into pandemonium. 

 

Man of the match – Rayan Ait Nouri

You could choose any of the back five as the MOTM and there wouldn’t be many qualms. However, many hail Mo Salah as the best player in the world right now, many said how Rayan Ait-Nouri would be his next victim. Salah was lucky that our Algerian star boy got injured because I highly doubt Liverpool would have won if it would not have been for the 20-year old’s substitution. Rayan shushed the Premier League legend for 93 minutes, tackles and interceptions galore. Boss. 

 

Improvements 

 

Defending brilliantly is wonderful, and the greatest teams often leave you with little choice in the matter. However, our attacking display was abysmal today, we were extremely one dimensional and Alisson had nothing to do all game. Wolves wasted possession cheaply, the front men lacked cohesion and the ball would not stick. Manchester City will dominate possession, replicating the defensive performance of today will help, but being more efficient in the final third must improve. Five shots on target in three games is embarrassing. Additionally, the concept of a substitution is to give an advantage to your team in the latter stages, ours seem to be aiding the opposition recently and this is no fault of Bruno, our squad depth is nothing short of comical. A message to FOSUN – January investment has to happen.

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

Stan Cullis

Wolves in November – The Debrief

Wolves 2-1 Everton

After 45 minutes of front-footed intensity, it looked like Wolves were ready to roll through Everton like the proverbial hot knife through butter. Optimistic fans, shivering under the lights on a cold Monday evening at the start of November, could be forgiven for thinking this would be an easy one or that four or five goals were ready to flow.

 

By the final whistle, nerves were starting to shred and Wolves just about held on to claim three points. On the balance of play across two very different halves, both sides could make an argument for deserving something out of the match. At half time it looked like a massacre could be on the cards, until the wise old hand of Rafa Benitez shored up his side, changed tactics and sent his men out in the second half with renewed vigour. 

 

Even with the initial two goal cushion it would be great to see Wolves really shake loose, put these teams to the sword and add that vital cutting edge to the dominant possession. Max Kilman’s header was a long overdue reward for a fantastic start to the season. Raul’s chip was a delightful finish after a bad mistake from Ben Godfrey. Credit to the lads for not letting their heads dip after a marginal offside call ruled out Hwang’s false opener.

 

Hwang’s endeavour was beautifully merged with a masterful midfield mix of Moutinho and Neves pulling the strings, spraying passes across the field.

 

Strangely, as both sets of legs tired, there was once again no sign of the explosive Adama Traore emerging from the bench to terrorise the opposition. Bruno Lage still needs squad additions to bolster his options and add fresh impetus in the New Year. 

 

As Traore’s contract talks rumble on it is becoming increasingly more likely that he soon may ply his trade elsewhere. He remains a viable threat from the bench but at this stage of his career, with lofty ambitions, Traore will want to be a key player moving forward. On this occasion the Spaniard’s services were not required and his current teammates did a sterling job in his absence.

 

Crystal Palace 2-0 Wolves

While Brentford at home was bad, at least the game ended with six forwards on the pitch in a Championship Manager-style formation change to salvage a point. This was just a bit depressing. Little fight, little urgency, tactically exposed. Worse than effort, there was a distinct lack of quality and creativity. Palace ran us ragged and getting in at half-time without conceding was a minor miracle. 

 

So here ends the unbeaten run. Shame really because things were just starting to get exciting. But that’s what mid-table teams do. They fluctuate between highs and lows. They turn in a meek and feeble display just at the point when incentives are high and a win would earn a place in the top six. That’s why Trincao and Semedo are at Wolves not Barcelona. “It is what it is” as the hackneyed modern day phrase reminds us.

 

Palace bullied, attacked in numbers and showed general positivity. Grasping the initiative early on, they never let it slip. In the first half at last Wolves restricted the home side to only a few chances. The referee and VAR provided controversial talking points, with the man in the middle awarding a penalty before changing his mind. Any help from the officials would’ve been welcome. However, Wolves were the architects of their collective downfall and were extremely poor in the second half. 

 

For the first goal, the enigmatic Zaha bottled up his growing frustration, slipped in behind Semedo and finished off a through ball. The defensive reaction was slow. The overall reaction was non-existent as Wolves toiled to stay in the game, while creating little in return. 

 

The Eagles were hungrier, fresher, and wanted it more. Traore came on too late and his wing back positioning didn’t work out. Trincao put in as poor of a performance as any Wolves player in recent games as Palace outnumbered Neves and Moutinho in midfield. 

 

Their higher pressing and energy made the difference. When playing so defensively Traore’s pace on the counter attack is a favourable outlet, rather than seeing him shackled in a more defensive role. Trincao isn’t physical enough for these types of battles, which leads to the question: is the overall squad too thin on quality and quantity?

 

Wolves 1-0 West Ham

 

Saturday afternoon and West Ham roll into town. Not gonna lie, it was a scary thought. They were on form while Wolves’ last outing was a soulless loss to Crystal Palace.

 

Reenergised and reinvigorated after yet another tedious international break, Wolves weathered the early storm and scored a tremendous win over a team in form. Of all the duels taking place across the park, the home side certainly won the midfield battle. The outstanding Neves, situated alongside the cool head of Moutinho, overran Rice and Soucek. Neves is a master of the engine room who makes the team tick when he’s “on it”. The Portuguese international was combative, displayed great passing ability and comprehensively dictated the tempo.

 

Not alone in delivering a stellar performance, he was joined by the sprightly Podence, a diminutive magician who played the killer pass through to Raul who in turn produced a sublime finish on the 58th minute. At the back, Kilman, Saiss and Coady converged to create a rock solid unit that the Hammers could not breach. 

 

Jarrod Bowen should’ve scored. Mikhail Antonio was flown home early at huge expense only to spend the entire duration in Max Kilman’s back pocket. Dropping back deep to defend a lead resulted in a nervy final few minutes, but Wolves held firm and there was no Leeds-style sting in the tail.

 

Now to the difficult stuff. While grabbing a win over Norwich and bogey team Burnley would appear an easier task, these are the teams Wolves have faltered against in the past. Nuno notoriously struggled to prize stubborn teams apart. Can Bruno produce the winning formula and send his team flying into a haunting December schedule?

 

Nestled neatly in sixth position, if the club can keep building and insert some quality squad additions in January then suddenly the garden is looking rosy.

 

Norwich 0-0 Wolves

Imagine travelling all the way over to a team Norwich, revitalised under Dean Smith, in those horrific weather conditions? Massive salute to the resilient souls who braved the trip. Given the lack of options on the bench it seems half the squad didn’t fancy it either. Joking aside, the cheque book needs to come out in January. Let’s bolster the squad and have only one goalkeeper back on the sidelines.

 

Anyone watching from the stands will have witnessed an away side sloppy in possession, with little to no link-up play or fluidity. The gaffer clearly likes Trincao but there have been games this season where he’s offered next to nothing. A freezing afternoon’s work up against a hard press was never likely to be the Portuguese winger’s situation of choice.

 

Norwich got their tactics nailed on. Targeting Ait-Nouri early down the flanks, they seemed happy to allow the young Frenchman to press forward in the knowledge that his final ball was likely to lack efficacy.

 

While the attack was feeble, the defensive remained resolute. Between the sticks Jose Sa is solid and dependable when called upon, while home striker Timo Pukki was guilty of fluffing his lines on more than one occasion. A more clinical striker would have repeatedly punished Wolves for their slackness.

 

Coady marshalled the back line admirably. Saiss got stuck in when required and Kilman….well, it’s King Kilman now. Strong and reliable, yet too unfashionable to gain international recognition, he’s been one of the finds of the season. 

 

When pacey powerhouse Adama Traore finally entered the fray he was once again deployed as a wingback, in what is surely a political move rather than tactical. Looking more and more likely to move in January, Traore’s entire career has been fits and starts. From amazing to frustrating and somewhere in between. Just when he looks set to become a world beater his form tails off. 

 

Yet again South Korean international Hwang was unable to impose himself on the game, despite his usual willingness to chase and run. At least Wolves did not get beaten or concede a late heartbreaker, so there are at some slim positives to be taken home.

 

Steve Wellings is part of the Talking Wolves editorial team

 

Steve Bull Stand

Wolves 0-0 Burnley Match Report

Cold, Wednesday night football against notoriously ‘anti-footballing’ sides have become somewhat of a hallmark within Premier League culture. Wolves discovered this as they played out a 0-0 draw against a struggling Burnley side, following a disappointing display against Norwich over the weekend. A game that provided an opportunity for Wolves to gather points with a difficult Christmas period looming; resulted in another disappointing result for the home side, failing to capitalise upon their chances. 

Burnley, as well as Wolves, were missing key players such as Tarkowski and Westwood as suspensions were carried from their postponement vs Tottenham. COVID isolation for Podence and a poor performance from Trincao created space in the starting eleven for Adama Traore. An addition that was welcomed by many after a game against Norwich lacking offensive creativity.

An attritional first period saw Wolves have a couple of half chances, but nothing that tested Pope of note. Until the ball broke for Traore and Jimenez, a two-on-one situation with only Charlie Taylor to beat. The Spaniard managed to generate an angle and blast his shot onto the underside of the crossbar – rippling the net, but not in the way the deceived South Bank had thought. In hindsight, Raul was in acres of space, and was one square ball from sending us in front, but a Traore determined to prove his worth was understandably hungry for a solo attempt. Chris Wood succeeded in finding himself between Wolves’ centre-halves, sending the Molineux faithful into a claret-coloured nightmare after his last display in Wolverhampton, but nothing came to fruition.

The second half story followed from the first, Wolves holding lots of the possession and working it well into key areas, whilst Burnley sat back and waited for a mistake. The narrative of the game was centred around the defences, as any of Burnley’s threats were cut off at source. Unfortunately, Dyche’s men stood firm too, with many of our attacking moves lacking final product, or blocked come the final ball. Personally, Ait Nouri and Semedo looked fatigued, every time an opportunity to take Taylor or (previously carded) Lowton on, the safer option was favoured, returning responsibility to the midfield duo.

 

Key moments

Bar Adama’s crossbar rocket and two lame attempts on goal from Dendoncker and Hwang, Pope had an easy day at the office, occasionally warming himself up by catching a lazy cross. Since Burnley had two defenders on yellow cards before the break, I was surprised not to see more pressure put on them, either to force a mistake or another foul. Not exactly one for the neutral on Amazon Prime, it was a game lacking key moments, instead, the stadium happened to be praying for one from Traore.

 

Man of the match  – Adama Traore

Considering the contract speculation that Adama has been subject to recently, it would be easy for him to become a passenger in this game and almost force Lage’s hand into a January exit for the winger. Additionally, many fans have their questions for Adama, and they have the right to question background affairs such as wage demands and contract negotiations, but his dedication on the pitch cannot be questioned. We were never going to score today, but he gives the team opportunities, and he gets you off your seat – every single game. He missed our only decent chance, but with every attacking move having him involved, only Podence can keep him out of the starting eleven right now.

 

Improvements 

Onto the nightmare before Christmas. Liverpool, Manchester City and Chelsea all before the 25th. Liverpool’s press will be relentless on Saturday, which is why having Neves back will be crucial. Wolves kept the ball well against Burnley, but this is no challenge against a side employing time-wasting tactics from the 55th minute. The same must be done against Liverpool, by developing any possession we have into chances on goal, as two shots on target out of 16 isn’t good enough. Our toughest challenge so far, but knowing Wolves like I know I do; we’ll turn them over easily.

 

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

 

Wolves stadium

Wolves 0-0 Burnley – Player Ratings

Wolves were held to their second successive 0-0 draw in the Premier League after it finished goalless against Burnley at Molineux on Wednesday night. It certainly was not one for the purists and Wolves failed to live up to the heights of their previous home game against West Ham. Despite this, Wolves had the opportunities to win the game, Adama Traore going closest with his effort crashing off the underside of the crossbar.

 

Jose Sa

A comfortable night for the Wolves goalkeeper with just the one major save to make from Dwight McNeil in the second half. His handling and command of the area was superb and gives the defence a huge confidence boost against sides like Burnley who have a dangerous physical presence in the box. 7/10

 

Max Kilman

Yet another excellent defensive display from Kilman who has hardly put a foot wrong all season. Kilman was excellent on the ball too, looking to bring the ball higher up the pitch allowing the midfield and wing backs to push on. Unfortunately  those around him were on a different wavelength at times. 8/10

 

Conor Coady

A faultless defensive display from Coady who organised and leaded the team as we have come to expect. He was unable to start any meaningful attacks from the back due to Burnley’s high press, so was restricted to sideways balls to his fellow defenders or wing backs in deeper positions. 7/10

 

Romain Saiss

Saiss, like the rest of the defence, had a comfortable evening with the visitors offering little threat going forwards. He too tried to play Ait-Nouri down the left flank as often as possible, but Wolves just couldn’t increase the tempo enough to put real pressure on Burnley. 7/10

 

Nelson Semedo

Possibly the pick of the players on the pitch in terms of his effort and endeavour in an attacking sense, but also his hard work tracking back and nullifying any threat Burnley had out wide. Semedo looked to link with Traore and Jimenez but nothing came to fruition. 7/10

 

Joao Moutinho

An increased responsibility on his shoulders with Neves missing out through suspension and Moutinho didn’t really have any impact on the game. He was calm and assured on the ball but never looked to find the pass to break the lines of defence. He was also too easy to get past from a defensive point of view in the midfield. 6/10

 

Leander Dendoncker

Replaced the suspended Neves and didn’t take his opportunity to stake a claim for a place in the starting XI. Dendoncker often slowed play down and had little impact in an offensive sense. Wolves missed Neves, there is no doubt about that. 5/10

 

Rayan Ait-Nouri

Overall, Ait-Nouri put in another good performance as he continues to develop. He was relatively sound defensively and comfortable on the ball. He saw a lot of the ball in the final third but often checked back, slowing the attack down. On the rare occasions he got to the by-line his cross was poor and Wolves could not create a meaningful chance from them. 6/10

 

Adama Traore

Just where to start with Adama Traore. On the one hand, if Traore wasn’t on the pitch Wolves would not have created a single chance all evening. On the other hand, Traore wasted numerous good positions including a break mid-way through the second half where he had acres of space and instead produced an awful, floated cross towards Jimenez which was easily intercepted. His effort that hit the crossbar was unlucky, but Jimenez was in a far better position to his left. It was yet another frustrating night for the Spanish winger. 6/10

 

Raul Jimenez

A quiet evening from Jimenez whose frustration was evident. There were signs of his partnership with Traore developing again, but Traore could not produce the final ball for him. He was often forced wide or deep to get the ball which left Wolves short of numbers in the box. 6/10

 

Hwang Hee-Chan

A typical Hwang performance, full of energy and enthusiasm showing just why he is adored by the Molineux crowd. He had a few half chances and looked to link with Traore and Jimenez where possible, but it was an off night in general for the front three. 6/10

 

Subs:

Francisco Trincao

Replaced Hwang for the final ten minutes and was unable to impact the game. He had one dazzling run through the midfield, but nothing came of the attack. It will be interesting to see whether he is restored to the starting XI for the visit of Liverpool on Saturday. 6/10

 

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

1024px-Carrow_Road_-_fans_holding_yellow_or_green_fliers

Norwich 0-0 wolves – Player Ratings

Wolves held Norwich to a goalless draw at Carrow road on Saturday and were perhaps fortunate to leave with a point. After a promising first thirty minutes Wolves failed to create any meaningful chances and had goalkeeper Jose Sa to thanks for the clean sheet which ultimately earned the point. Despite the disappointing performance Wolves remain sixth and will look to continue their good form against Burnley at Molineux on Wednesday.

 

Jose Sa

It was yet another faultless display from the new Wolves number one who produced several good saves to earn Wolves a point. His save from Max Aarons late in the first half was particularly important, while his command of area and distribution was once again impressive. 8/10

 

Max Kilman

Wolves’ play of the season so far did not disappoint at Norwich, defending well both aerially and physically. He covered well for Semedo and looked to get on the ball as often as possible. 7/10

 

Conor Coady

An excellent defensive display from the Wolves captain who produced several important blocks and challenges as Norwich looked to find a way through. The lack of movement around him made starting attacks from the back difficult but Coady performed his primary duty to perfection. 8/10

 

Romain Saiss

Saiss, like the rest of the defence, put in an impressive defensive display, dealing with everything that came his way. With the absence of Wily Boly prolonged, Saiss must keep up his good form if Wolves are to pick up results in December. 7/10

 

Nelson Semedo

Semedo failed to live up to the heights of his performance against West Ham but in truths so did everyone who played ahead of him. The right wing back was solid enough defensively but lacked ambition and intensity going forward, opting for the safe pass at every opportunity. 6/10

 

Joao Moutinho

It was a poor performance from Moutinho who failed to have any real impact on the game both defensively and offensively. He struggled to link with the front three and the young Norwich midfield found it far to easy to bypass him. 5/10

 

Ruben Neves

After a promising start to the game, Neves also had little impact on the game after a superb performance against West Ham. He struggled to create and get any meaningful attacks going, with the those ahead of him static and isolated. 6/10

 

Rayan Ait-Nouri

Despite showing vast improvements in recent weeks, Ait-Nouri didn’t have his best display at Carrow Road. He was often caught out of position and lost possession far too easily. He had little effect on the game going forwards, like Semedo, opting for the safe pass too often. 5/10

 

Francisco Trincao

A poor display from Trincao who would only have come into the side at late notice following the news that Daniel Podence had tested positive for COVID-19. Trincao lost possession on far too many occasions and failed to link with his fellow forwards to create meaningful chances. 4/10

 

Raul Jimenez

It wasn’t for the want of trying from Jimenez, but he had an incredibly quiet afternoon, failing to register a shot on target. He was often seen coming deep to get the ball, which is also the fault of those around him, as he tried to get Wolves on the front foot to no avail. 6/10

 

Hwang Hee-Chan

Like Jimenez there was certainly no lack of effort from the latest fans favourite, but Hwang struggled to get into the game and couldn’t link with those around him as Wolves failed to have any real sustained spells of pressure in the game. 5/10

 

Subs:

Adama Traore

Just what is going on with Adama Traore? Came off the bench with half an hour to go and had little to no impact on the game. In his defence he was switched into three different positions during his time on the field. His ineffective cameo will only raise further questions over his future and why Bruno Lage continues to leave him on the bench. 5/10

 

Leander Dendoncker

A much-needed physical presence in the midfield for the closing stages of the game and is likely to start against Burnley on Wednesday evening following Ruben Neves picking up his fifth yellow card of the season. 6/10

 

Ki-Jana Hoever

Played the final minutes of the game allowed Traore to move further forward in case there was a chance for a late counter attack. N/A

Selhurst park

Crystal Palace 2-0 Wolves – Player Ratings

Wolves’ five-game unbeaten run ended abruptly as they were convincingly beaten by Patrick Viera’s Crystal Palace on Saturday afternoon. It was a lacklustre performance in which Wolves never really got going, failing to live up to the heights of the performance against Everton on Monday night. Goals from Wilfred Zaha and Connor Gallagher sent Wolves home without a point, giving the home side the win that they deserved. Wolves are back at Molineux after the international break against in form West Ham United.

Raul Jimenez Xmas Cards – Available Now

raul card

 

Jose Sa

Made a mess of a deep cross into the box which ultimately led to the opening goal of the game, but Wolves should have defended the second phase of the attack far better. His distribution was not up to the usual standard, but he did make several saves which ultimately saved Wolves the embarrassment of a heavy defeat at Selhurst Park. 6/10

 

Max Kilman

Was solid defensively with much of what was thrown at him and looked to step out of defence and get Wolves further up the pitch as they failed to create. His passing was poor, and he was caught out of position several times. 6/10

 

Conor Coady

A poor display from the Wolves captain who once again showed his inability to defend against big and physical strikers, this time Christian Benteke. He was far too slow in pushing out the box for the opener, capping off an afternoon to forget before he departs for England duty. 4/10

 

Romain Saiss

Saiss like Coady, had a poor afternoon and was also partly at fault for the first Palace goal, playing Zaha onside. He was poor on the ball too, incapable of dealing with the high press that the home side forced on Wolves. 5/10

 

Nelson Semedo

Not Semedo’s finest afternoon in a Wolves shirt as the wing back struggled defensively for much of the game, Max Kilman often covering for him. He did however, look to get Wolves up the pitch, particularly in the first half, but had little support in doing so as Wolves failed to create a clear cut chance. 5/10

 

Joao Moutinho

Struggled to assert any kind of dominance in the midfield and was in truth, non-existent when Palace on the ball. For his many strengths, Moutinho is far too easy to get past in midfield and this is an issue Wolves must address. He did however go closest to getting a goal with his free kick being tipped round the post by Guaita. 5/10

 

Ruben Neves

Failed to build on his man of the match display against Everton last week with a poor showing in the defeat at Selhurst Park. He was poor on the ball with far too many passes going astray, while he failed to stop many Palace attacks as they drifted through the middle of the park with ease. 5/10

 

Rayan Ait-Nouri

Like Semedo on the opposite flank, Ait-Nouri tried to make things happen but had little support around him, forcing him to go backwards far too often. Wolves’ attacking chemistry just wasn’t quite there and that will be the biggest disappointment for Bruno Lage. 6/10

 

Francisco Trincao

A poor display from Trincao having put in arguably his best performance in gold and black on Monday night. Almost every pass went astray in the final third with the Portuguese winger failing to create a single chance. 4/10

 

Raul Jimenez

Jimenez cut a lonely and frustrated figure for much of the match, failing to link with Hwang and Trincao, and going a full game without mustering a shot for the first time in a Wolves shirt. 5/10

 

Hwang Hee-Chan

Failed to live up to the heights of his impressive start to his Wolves career, on a different wavelength to those around him. A day to forget for those in the front three for Wolves. 5/10

 

Subs:

Adama Traore

Replaced Nelson Semedo with 20 minutes to go and injected some much-needed energy going forwards. He was far more direct than any other player on the day but couldn’t create anything meaningful from the more restrictive wing back position. 6/10

 

Daniel Podence

Came into the front three and failed to improve the movement and creativity that had been lacking all game. Will certainly be in with a chance of starting against West Ham after his impressive start to the season. 5/10

 

Fabio Silva

Played the final few minutes without having any time to make a real impact on the game. N/A

 

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

Selhurst park

Crystal Palace 2-0 Wolves Match Review

A frustrating afternoon in South London saw Wolves fall 2-0 to Crystal Palace, and a display that demonstrated tactical similarities to the second half of the game on Monday evening. Goals from Wilfried Zaha and Chelsea loanee, Conor Gallagher, sunk Lage’s men in Croydon. Wolves lacked drive, determination and cutting edge, ultimately coming second best to the better side on the day, with no argument over who deserved the victory. 

There’s something about Selhurst Park that causes an uneasiness within me. Over the years, the mixture of the Palace atmosphere and what seems like a smaller pitch never fills me with confidence. An unchanged side was named following the confident first half against Everton, leaving Wolves fans with little room for qualms regarding player selection. From the moment Wolves gained possession though, the floods of blue and red began the swarm, and this was the moment I realised Vieira’s men were not going to roll over, these Eagles came to hunt. 

One key problem many are noticing week in week out (despite the positive results recently), is Wolves’ panic when teams initiate a press. Somehow, even with the abundance of technical ability that our players possess, firing the ball into the channels becomes the adopted tactic. I can accept this if you have payers with the physicality to combat Premier League centre halves, but Francisco Trincao vs Joachim Andersen is a prime example of why weight classes exist in combat sports; it’s simply not a fair matchup. Raul was placed on the graveyard shift, feeding off scraps and praying for an error from Palace’s defensive unit.

Furthermore, an inspired performance from Kouyate prevented many an attempt to progress through the middle of the pitch, highlighting that we need urgent reinforcement in January, particularly someone with energy and dynamism to partner Neves. It’s a must.

Bar Jose Sa with some decent distribution and Kilman shutting out Zaha for much of the game, no one gave a standout performance. Conor Coady and Romain Saiss had a torrid time dealing with Christian Benteke, a pattern that has been reoccurring for four years now. Opposition teams know that pinning a physical striker on Conor will lead to results, and for all his leadership qualities, he will continue to lose important defensive duels in key moments.

 

Key moments  

 

A cagey first half affair saw Joao Moutinho booked after only nine minutes; after Odsonne Edouard dived ahead of him. Similarly, to the Leeds contest, this detracted from our midfield tenacity for the remainder of the afternoon, as Joao would be in no position to make ‘clever’ fouls, or your typical ‘cynical’ challenge in order to break up opposition threat. After half time, it was evident that the home team were keen to stamp their authority upon the contest, and Wilfried Zaha achieved this, slotting home to put the hosts ahead (after a VAR overturn). Wolves had the possibility of a penalty through a rash Joel Ward decision just beyond the penalty box, but again, VAR overturned the decision. One was not enough for the Eagles, as Conor Gallagher’s deflected effort wrongfoots Sa to double Wolves’ troubles.

 

Man of the Match – Max Kilman

 

Kilman’s impressive performances in recent weeks were rewarded midweek with an improved contract for the 24-year-old. Once again though, Wolves’ player of the season (now undeniably) proved exactly why this was his just reward. For the majority of the game, Kilman suppressed Zaha’s threat, and even if Wolves had lost the war at Selhurst Park, Max won his battles (which cannot be said for the rest of the squad). Confidence in tackling the tricky winger, combined with impressive bursts of recovery pace earned Kilman my Man of the Match.

 

Improvements

It’s beyond clear that Bruno will not be satisfied with the performance, with a real lack of intensity throughout, Wolves got exactly what they deserved. The international break will provide time for the management team to find ‘solutions’ to resist pressing teams. We need to be much more confident in our ability to keep the ball under pressure, instead of resorting to route one football. It was a bad day at the office to say the least, but there’s a pattern to the poorer performances, that being against teams with aggressive pressing tactics.

 

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