Wolves blog: Mixed results in Molineux double-header
The results this week were an absolute snapshot of Wolves’ season.
A bore draw with relegation-threatened Brighton, who in normal circumstances you’d expect to beat, and a stunning 3-1 victory over Arsenal, who Wolves hadn’t beaten in four decades.
Yet this typifies Wolves’ season, as they have raided the top six teams for 16 points compared to just eleven from the bottom six.
Saturday was one of those games you can’t wait for, towards the end of the season when the sunny weather kicks in. The beer gardens of Wolverhampton were heaving and the sight of the Molineux stands almost universally in old gold replica shirts isn’t something you see that often.
The game, sadly, was ruined by Brighton and their ultra-defensive tactics. We had so many corners, yet we were never going to beat the imperious Dunk and Duffy in the air - they cleared everything out with ease.
But their midweek match against Spurs puts this draw into context - it took a Champions League semi-final team 88 minutes to break them down.
This result did little to break the Match of the Day hoodoo - with Wolves and Watford the only teams yet to be first on this season (surely our final match will be first on?!)
Onto Wednesday night and the atmosphere at the end of the game couldn’t be different. Wolves were superb and raced into a 3-0 lead at half time - is this the same team which struggles in the first half of games?
Ruben Neves’ free kick was destined for the net, and means that he now has more goals outside the box than touches inside it this season.
How on earth does a full back, Matt Doherty, score eight goals and set up seven and not be in his national team’s starting lineup? Bonkers.
Both wing backs were in great form, with Jonny marauding into Arsenal’s half like a man possessed. He and Diogo Jota caused nightmares dribbling at Arsenal’s defence.
Arsenal’s keeper Leno was their hero at The Emirates, but here he struggled as he was in no man’s land for Doherty’s header and let Jota’s goal under his arm, after Wolves punished Arsenal’s slack possession.
Raul Jimenez was snatching at chances, having not scored since Wembley, as he missed three chances inside the box, none of which ended up on target.
The writing is surely on the wall for Helder Costa now, as he is being frozen out, akin to Leo Bonatini’s fall from grace - bringing him on at 3-0 would have been perfect if Nuno still trusted him.
Credit to Unai Emery, who praised Wolves after the game rather than blaming the ball, the wind, the referee or the tea lady.
If Wolves don’t lose to Fulham, their unbeaten home run will stretch to a minimum of eight months - a superb statistic, given how shaky Molineux was for points before Nuno took charge.
Ultimately, Wolves’ poor form against the lower teams is a weakness which needs fixing next season. But if you were given the choice of beating the bigger teams or the lower, still achieving the same points we have now, you’d always choose the more exciting victories over United, Arsenal et al. Liverpool will dread playing us on the final day of the season.
But more immediately, if we beat Watford this weekend, we will be massively in the driving seat for seventh place. Let’s put Wembley’s wrongs to bed.