DAVE PORTER give his report on spurs 1-0 wolves
Defeat to Tottenham away from home is not going to define a season, but the loss brings heavy focus on the two previous games which leave Wolves with a tally of 1 point from the first three games. Whilst there were many positives here, pressure is beginning to show and Wolves desperately need to get points on the board. To win games however, you have to score goals and once again Wolves have, despite long periods of domination failed to create clear chances or trouble the scoreboard.
The game will be remembered, with more clarity than usual given the combination of the kick off time and the train strikes, for the debut of club record signing Matheus Nunes. Nunes was straight into the starting line up and was joined by a returning Joao Moutinho and captain Ruben Neves in a three man midfield. Dendoncker the unlucky makeweight was joined on the bench by Hwang as Bruno opted for a front three of Guedes, Neto and Podence. With the lack of a fit striker it was again Podence who asked to play centrally as the most falsest of nines.
If you could show a half of football to display what Wolves are all about then the first half was it. Wolves were dominant over a team that many expect to genuinely threaten the monopoly of the top two and certainly figure in the Champions League spaces, but they were bossed by a Wolves side who were in pretty much total control. The home side and fans were obviously frustrated and could not handle Wolves movement, energy and skill, but as pleasing as the performance was on the eye, Wolves again were unable to create clear chances. Neves orchestrating Wolves throughout tested Loris with a well worked corner shooting on the volley from distance and half chances and promising positions were created and spurned as Wolves failed to convert dominance into goals. Guedes was lively and in quick succession created a series of nearly moments. A shot just wide of the post, an orange card offence for Hojbjerg who cynically hacked at him when potentially through from the half way line, a missed connection when set up by Neto’s pullback and finally a shot that was hit like an amateur golfer striking the turf before the ball which slowly ran through to the keeper. Please repair your divots. Wolves had other half chances as Podence snatched at a ball when well placed similar to Leeds away, but this time off target and without the good fortune. Nunes also went close from distance before heading agonisingly wide from Neves’ clever chipped through ball.
The half ended with Wolves clearly in control of the game, the better team by some distance, but without anything to show for the performance. The adage however of needing to score whilst on top is going to be on many a Wolves tweet or match report this afternoon and as the half ended you got the impression that the players were starting to lose belief that they can actually score goals. Tottenham under Conte would surely adjust at half time, he did and the second half was to be a very different affair.
From the start of the second half it was Tottenham’s turn to dominate. They started brightly and pegged Wolves back and whilst Wolves tried to play themselves back into the game, Tottenham had upped theirs and it was the home side that were going closest. A corner flashed across the empty goal inexplicably missed by Sanchez, Kane headed a typical Kane header against the crossbar when well placed and Son fired against the upright, or Sa saved onto an upright, I expect Sa will claim the save at least after the match. In between the Tottenham pressure Wolves continued to play and Ait Nouri took a touch too many when well placed, before being snuffled out by defenders on the six yard box. Then the crucial moment of the match. Wolves may not have a goal scorer, but obviously Tottenham do and it was Harry Kane who settled this game. Kane was well marshalled throughout by Kilman and in particular the excellent Collins, but the danger was there. The header against the crossbar a warning and it was a header that separated the sides. Wolves had already had a scare form a corner and unfortunately it is again Ryan Ait Nouri to who many fingers will point for the goal and ultimately the match. Wolves have let in three goals this season and the young left back has been involved in all three. On this occasion, a moments lapse of concentration saw Perisic dart in front of the Wolves man and flick a poor corner into the path of Kane who didn’t miss from a couple of feet. Lage will be annoyed. All of the good work undone by the simplest of set pieces that should have been cleared at source. Ait-Nouri will learn, but at the moment, he appears cursed in that his mistakes are leading to goals. Ait-Nouri went on to be replaced by Semedo and you would think that change may be of some permanence going forward.
Wolves tried to get back into the game and came close with a Neves freekick. Raul also showed glimpses of what having a striker on the pitch can offer when he dazzled his way past defenders in a manner similar to his left footed strike against the same team of previous seasons. At the last moment on this occasion, the ball got away and rolled painfully close to Dendoncker who had not set his feet in anticipation. A toe would have done with the keeper nowhere to be seen.
Wolves tried to push Tottenham back, but they look like a team who don’t remember how to score goals. It looks like an art long forgotten and in truth the equaliser never looked likely. Lage was visibly angry with the four minutes of added time, but as Wolves tried to press, it looked more likely that Tottenham would extend their lead rather than Wolves rescuing a point.
So Wolves will leave with some optimism. No-one will be surprised by this result and in the list of fixtures, not many would have this one on their list as a win. The loss however is made worse not because of a failure to get something here, but because it punctuates the waste of the two fixtures proceeding it. A performance like this one, a team like this one, a bench as strong as this one, wins those games.
They have played well here and got nothing for their efforts. The team are going to get a lot of plaudits this year and at the moment, this looks like a team that should be looking to the top half of the table and not be troubled by the ‘R’ word. But they need to put points on the board and fast, they need to remember how to create chances, they need a striker on the pitch and another on the bench to add options and impetus. Wolves were competitive here against one of the leagues fancied teams, the first half performance probably merited the draw, but Tottenham come away with the points because they have something that Wolves currently do not have. A goal scorer.
ARTICLE BY DAVE PORTER
Wolverhampton born, East Sussex based supporter. Old enough to have seen the descent to the bottom, young enough to not have experienced the days my friend. Not many Wolves fans to celebrate or commiserate with round these parts, so had to find an outlet to discuss the enormous highs, crushing lows and share the frustrations that only come with following Wolves.