NICK PARKES REPORTS ON WOLVES FINAL GAME BEFORE THE WORLD CUP BREAK AGAINST ARSENAL
The only way is up as Wolves head into the World Cup break sitting rock-bottom of the Premier League. This week’s defeat came at the hands of table topping Arsenal who took all 3 points with a 2-0 win in the Saturday night fixture.
Wolves made 6 changes from the win in the cup during the week and a change in formation saw us line-up with 5 at the back with Toti coming in, 3 across the midfield and 2 up top. Before the match kicked-off the Molineux faithful got a first glimpse at new manager Julen Lopetegui, the man we hope can keep us in the premier league. And after a fitting tribute to all soldiers lost during war-time, the game kicked off with Arsenal having the majority of the possession. Despite this, and even though Jesus had a goal chalked off for off-side, the biggest talking point came in the 7th minute when Boubacar Traore ran down the wing on our right hand side and played in a beautiful ball across to Guedes inside the box, who was then fouled by an Arsenal defender. The linesman incorrectly judged Guedes offside and with no VAR check the game continued. A huge decision which had fans and pundits alike scratching their heads. It saved Arsenal a definite red card and also denied a penalty to us.
The first half continued with Wolves looking resolute in defence and player of the month Hugo Bueno in particular looked very assured against in-form Saka. With Wolves playing 5 at the back there was an onus on the wing-backs to push forward and both Bueno and Semedo did so. Bueno with an excellent run in the 11th minute, beating two Arsenal players with ease. Also, Semedo shortly after, sprinting forward and putting in an almost perfect ball for Guedes. It was a half which required Wolves to be patient and stoic in the positioning. As the players left the pitch to a chorus of claps, Wolves should have been happy with the fight they showed in the first half. Albeit showing Arsenal a little too much respect, particularly when winning the second balls, and also more commitment and self-belief when on the counter-attack, we went in without conceding and looking more assured at the back than in previous games.
Despite Wolves coming out for the second with more desire to get on the ball and use it; especially from Adama and Guedes, Arsenal’s quality showed as a wonderful defence splitting ball from Jesus picked out Viera who had the easy task of passing across the box for Odegaard to tap home to break the deadlock. Not for the first time this season, Wolves were up against it to salvage something. The difference with this game to previous ones, was that Wolves didn’t throw in the towel and the fight remained despite trailing to the league leaders. A great ball over the top from Moutinho on 60 minutes found Adama who drew a foul right on the edge of the box. The desire to fight was also shown in defence when Toti raced back to vitally intercept an almost certain goal for Arsenal.
A double substitution was made half way through the second half and Dexter Lembikisa came on to make his league debut. His first appearance didn’t go exactly to plan as he naively lost the ball next to the corner flag, he should have played it safe, but his mistake cost us as Arsenal worked their way into the box and despite a great save from Sa to deny them once, he could do little to stop Odegaard scoring his second, and with his brace, removing any hope of a Wolves fight back.
Wolves continued to huff and puff but to no avail. Podence who came on as a second half sub almost scored the goal of the season so far. Positioned about 10 yards out on the left hand side of the goal, he flicked up the ball and attempted an audacious bicycle kick which just went past the opposite post. With that attack the clock wound down and with the referee’s whistling signalling the end of the game, it signalled defeat number 8 for Wolves this season.
All in all, a result many fans would have expected before kick-off and once again, it’s a game where we failed to score and we find ourselves at the foot of the league which is incredible considering the players we have. However, the fight is there to see, the fans are rallying to support our team in times of hardship and the likes of Bueno and Boubacar Traore have really shone in these dark times. Now with the international break, our new manager and backroom staff have time to implement a system they believe will save our season and save our team from relegation. The only way is up, keep the faith!
ARTICLE BY NICK PARKES
Hi, I’m Nick! Born in Wolverhampton and currently living in Barcelona. I’ve been a Wolves fan since birth (dad’s choice) and was a north bank season ticket holder in my younger days. My favourite all-time player, Bully! And favourite current player is Coady!
I’m an English teacher by trade and when I’m not scolding teenagers in the class, I’m either running, gardening or watching cricket!