NICK PARKES REPORTS ON WOLVES GETTING BATTERED 3-0 BY WEST HAM
Wolves travelled back north from the capital once again without the win, this time we were battered by West Ham 3-0 at the London Stadium in a game which saw shocking defending, limp attack and tactical changes back-fire.
Toti Gomes, Dawson, Kilman
Bellegarde, Joao Gomes, Lemina, Semedo
Cunha, Hwang, Sarabia
The Sunday lunch time kick-off in London saw West Ham start the better team, high energy and slick passing meant they worked around Wolves with comfort, the only bright spark from the opening 10 minutes for us was that Sarabia picked up the ball in some decent positions between the lines of the West Ham defence and midfield but not able to do much with it. Just after the opening 10 Cunha did well to carve out a shot from the right hand side of the box but only to be saved by the ‘keeper’. A key problem early on was our inability to work the ball from from goal kicks as we continued to play the ball to Semedo, he kept turning into trouble and either kicking the ball out or playing it straight to a West Ham player.
The opening goal came from our corner, the ball was cleared out and Bellegarde criminally backed out of a 50-50 header, a pass from Paqueta saw the ball end up down our left with Kudus who worked across Semedo to shoot from 18-yards out into the opposite corner to put the Hammers 1-0 up after 22 minutes. Not taking away the decent finish but West Ham cut through us far far too easily.
Poor defending cost Wolves the first goal and it did once again 10 minutes later as Lemina played a poor pass forward which was easily cut out, the ball found its way again to Kudus and with Toti miles out of position, he raced through on goal and placed the ball into the bottom corner to make it 2-0.
Comical defending and the ease which West Ham could counter us was laughable and it could have been worse just before half time when once again we gave the ball away cheaply and a simple ball through the middle found Bowen, whose shot from distance struck the post and rolled across the goal but was cleared out.
Wolves had a few long distance shots and blocked shots in the first half but never looked like causing any real problems to the West Ham goal and after a shocking performance all-round, we went into the break 2-0 down.
Despite the abysmal first half, O’Neil made no changes at the break and Wolves looked to get back into the match early on. We started to be more positive in our build up play and on 55 minutes Semedo whipped in a good cross to Bellegarde at the back post, his shot was blocked and out for a corner. Shortly after that brought about our best moment in the game with Bellegarde sprinting down the left wing, he played a ball into the middle and a clever dummy from Sarabia found Hwang who passed to Semedo and then he played in a nice cross into the box for Sarabia to tap into an empty net. A goal which we deserved based on the second half performance alone but unfortunately a goal which was fractionally offside and VAR put a stop to our comeback. Positive signs and much better intent shown going forward.
The only thing sadder about the disallowed goal was that it was the only real positive moment for Wolves and the fans to cheer about as any slight hope of a comeback was dashed on 74 minutes as Lemina, who gave the ball away for the second goal, did the same for the third. A nothing pass to Cunha was easily dispossessed and a deft flick from Paqueta (who had a hat trick of assists) found Bowen running in on goal down our left, Dawson was far too leggy to keep up with him and he shoots passed Bentley in the goal and wrapped up the points for West Ham, game, set and match!
Apart from Bellegarde getting kicked around by Coufal, the game dwindled down and the ref put the Wolves fans out our misery by blowing the whistle, bringing the end to a comfortable win for West Ham and a very poor performance from Wolves.
Wolves looked better in the second half but extremely sloppy play, shocking defending and timid attacking cost Wolves. Although we took points off Burnley and Forest, this is the third poor performance in a row, and going into the Christmas period Wolves and O’Neil will find themselves in trouble if they don’t pick up their performances.
O’Neil has had praise and criticism this season for tactical and substituting decisions and personally speaking he made more mistakes in this match. Although Toti had previously played left back, he has looked vulnerable and suspect this season and putting him against Kudus who is one of the most exciting wingers was a big gamble and one that did not pay off. Expecting Bellegarde to do defensive duties was also unfair. We looked extremely naive and open at the back and we look tired and void of ideas going forward. Hwang is off the pace and needs a rest. Lemina had an unusually off game, particularly with his passing.
Another cause for concern is the lack of faith O’Neil has in his subs. Silva and Sasa both sat on the bench with Wolves 3-0 and nothing to lose. Fans understand that Silva has been poor when given a chance this season but giving these players more minutes and chances to prove themselves are what they need. Hwang looks tired and Cunha can only continue running himself into the ground for so long. A busy period is coming and we need rotation.
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!
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!