Wolves secured their third successive Premier League win at home to Bournemouth on Saturday and propelled themselves to 7th in the league in the process. It was an efficient rather than sparkling win and the three points weren’t fully secured until the last minute, but the result meant everyone went home happy, and we are getting to the point now where finishing in their highest ever Premier League position is becoming an expectation rather than a dream.
These three wins against Chelsea, Newcastle and Bournemouth have arguably been achieved with team performances that were not as impressive as three games in November against Brighton, Arsenal and Spurs which reaped only one point. But the reality is that Wolves with a little top division experience behind them now, are finding ways to win games without the sparkling football that has won them so many admirers over the last 18 months. And maybe they have learned a little from those disappointing performances against Huddersfield and Cardiff. With torrential rain pouring down on Molineux for most of the afternoon it was not a day for pretty football but with resolute defending Wolves found a way to win the game, just as they had at Newcastle last week and the league table has a very good look about it as a result.
Wolves were ahead in 12 minutes. Bournemouth sloppily gave the ball away to Jota who took the ball forward, beat his man and hit the ball across the face of the goal where Jimenez was on hand to turn it in. Bournemouth were playing some bright football but were not offering a goal threat. And the Wolves strikers opened up their defence again just before the break when Jimenez sent Jota through on the left. He was bundled over, legitimately according to the referee, but the challenge proved to be a costly one for Wolves as Jota was injured and had to go off with what looked like a hamstring problem.
Costa replaced Jota for the second half and he had a real chance to double Wolves lead after being put clear by Gibbs White but he blasted over with only the keeper to beat. But the visitors were still well in the game and came very close when a Stanislas free-kick came back off the bar. Saiss replaced Gibbs White with Wolves needing a more cautious approach to retain their lead, but Costa came close when he beat his man on the left before hitting a hard drive well saved by the keeper Cavaleiro replaced Jimenez with a couple of minutes to go but Wolves were hanging on a bit now. Cook hit one across the face of goal that nobody could get a touch on and Wilson and King had shots blocked.
But Wolves conjured a breakaway in injury time with Cavaleiro playing the ball to Costa on the right and his first-time return pass left Cavaleiro clean through and he finished with aplomb to clinch the game for Wolves.
Patricio 7 – no serious saves to make but good handling from crosses in difficult conditions.
Bennett 8 – outstanding game defensively.
Coady 7 – not as heavily called on as – his fellow defenders but had a good game with some important blocks.
Boly 8 – won lots of balls in the air to complete an excellent game for the back three.
Doherty 7 – usual valuable contribution up and down the right flank.
Neves 8 – won no end of balls in midfield and played sensible passes for the conditions.
Moutinho 7 – usual busy performance in the middle.
Jonny 7 – had a nervy start on his return from injury but settled to have a strong defensive display.
Jimenez 9 – an excellent centre-forward performance and his hold up play was exceptional.
Gibbs White 7 – not everything came off for him on the day but still produced some good moments.
Jota 8 – looking right back to his best and we have to hope his injury doesn’t keep him out for long.
Costa played all the second half and was poor for 30 minutes before coming alive with an assist and nearly a goal late on.
Amazing to look at the league table and see the Wolves in 7th. All those years in the second, third and even fourth tier of the league pyramid make this all the more enjoyable. Next in line are top of the table Liverpool on Friday. Wolves have performed well against all the other top 6 teams, can they do it again? Xmas is going to be good for Wolves fans whatever the outcome.
Writer: DJ Wolves