It’s becoming increasingly difficult to find new things to say about Wolves right now. Each game like clockwork. Slow start, step up a gear before half time, put the foot on the gas in the second half, score one or two goals and hold. Rinse and repeat.
Three wins from three, three clean sheets from three, nine points from nine available. It couldn’t have gone any better so far, could it? Perhaps the only thing we have to complain about for the moment is the fact we have to wait another week for a game.
There were familiar tropes throughout yesterday’s win over Aston Villa. Fellow Fancastian Ben Husband remarked in the week how Wolves appear to have split the game into quarters, something well pronounced with the additional breaks we now have. As with the games against Bournemouth and West Ham, Wolves offered next to nothing for the first quarter. Sky and BT commentators haven’t quite cottoned on to this yet and it’s noticeable how in each game they have accused us of ‘not getting going’ in the first half of games. Maybe we just don’t want to guys?
The second half of the first half usually sees us develop our game into opposition territory. We’re not overcommitting here but we manage to keep the ball higher up the pitch and if chances come our way then so be it, but there’s not too much urgency around this. A case in point would be the way Matt Doherty fortuitously ambled into the box to shoot in to the side netting, or how Diogo Jota should have capitalised on Orjan Nyland’s inexplicable error. But still, no need to panic. Half time arrives at 0-0 and statistics suggest we’re the best team in the league at this point and scoreline.
To stick with Ben’s quarters theory, the start of the second half is where Wolves tend to assert a degree of authority. It also tends to bring substitutions and if he hasn’t started, Adama Traore. Naturally games tend to take on a different texture from there on out and while Traore wasn’t at his best yesterday, the Fear of God that he brings with him just makes things happen. And so within minutes of his arrival, we scored.
The usual suspects have been the outstanding players since the return to action but this was a day where some of the lesser stated players came to the fore. Like a school Show and Tell after a summer break, the lads showed off what they had learnt over the lockdown period. Jonny’s added some sumptuous turns to his game. Leander Dendoncker brought his new found sledgehammer left foot. Romain Saiss proudly displayed his new found ability to avoid getting booked.
And so as we entered quarter four with Wolves in the lead, we as fans could sit back and relax, comfortable that Wolves had re-entered lockdown…of Rui Patricio’s net. To keep up an NFL analogy watching Wolves close out a game at the moment is like watching a quarter back take a knee for four downs straight to wind down the clock, with the opposition standing by as their futile attempts to break us down continue to fail.
The main take out from all of this? We just have a team full of good footballers. When required, whoever needs to step up does so. Jimenez, Jota, Neves and Moutinho could all be accused of having a quiet game yesterday. But it didn’t matter. It’s been an exceptional first full week since we got back playing and we certainly can’t be accused of not getting the job done if we do end up falling short of a Champions League spot for next season.
Next week? Arsenal. Whose turn will it to be to take them apart? Diogo, it’s time…