Wolves continued their excellent start to the season with a hard-earned success at Crystal Palace on Saturday. As with the previous game against Southampton, this was no easy success and the opponents looked the more likely winners for part of the game. But the defence were again resilient, and at the other end they found enough to earn the points.
Fielding the same starting eleven that has played in every one of the 8 Premier League games so far, a record for the division, Wolves had to buckle down in the early stages with the home team starting brightly and stretching Wolves on both flanks. And on a day when it never stopped raining all day in London, Wolves were struggling to put passing together and had only 20% possession in the early stages. Closest Palace came to a goal was when Zaha scrambled the ball past Jonny and then hit it low across the face of the Wolves goal with no attacker there to turn it in.
But as the half wore on Wolves started creating problems for Palace, and Jota and Jimenez combined for the striker to hit a shot wide, then Hennessey made an excellent save from Jimenez, and Jota blazed one over the bar. Palace had edged the half though without unduly troubling Patricio.
Wolves were better in the second period from the word go. Neves hit a 25 yarder just over and by pushing further forward Wolves were preventing Palace from playing the ball out from the back and it was now the home team struggling to control the game. And ten minutes into the half, Wolves went ahead. Doherty had got into an attacking position for the first time and he played a 1:2 with Jimenez before driving a shot in by the near post. And immediately afterwards Costa turned the home defence inside out before drilling a shot just wide.
The game wasn’t over though, and Ayew headed just over from a Palace corner, then a brilliant double save from Patricio foiled Meyer and then Schlupp, before Boly makes a crucial block from a Schlupp effort. Cavaleiro scored from his first touch last week and soon after arriving in this game he was put through on the right of the area and smashed a shot against the bar. Palace pressurised Wolves late on but in the end, Wolves were deserved winners.
Patricio 8 – showed the value of having a top class keeper with some fine saves and handling. His positioning is so good he makes so much look easy.
Bennett 7 – Mr Consistency and one of the many success stories of the season so far.
Coady 8 – just keeps getting better, and the speculation of an England call-up looks more justified by the week.
Boly 7 – another fine game in a Wolves defence that have conceded only twice in the last six league games, and those against Man Utd and City.
Doherty 7 – took his goal really well on a day when his work was mostly defensive. Hodgson had set up his team to keep the Wolves wing backs on the back foot and it will have irked him that one of them got the winner.
Moutinho 7 – another solid performance on a day when Wolves spent a lot of time being forced back
Neves 8 – some good passing as usual but showed the other string to his bow here when I lost count of the amount of times he won the ball in midfield.
Jonny 7 – had his work cut out keeping Zaha at bay but succeeded more often than not.
Costa 7 – didn’t see a lot of the ball for long periods but made some good runs and crosses and was close to scoring just after the winner.
Jimenez 8 – yet again involved in the crucial goal, brought a great save out of Hennessey and his work rate and close control in the area is vital to how Wolves play.
Jota 7 – helped to turn the game Wolves way with some good runs towards the end of the first half after Palace had dominated the opening phase. Probably just a goal away from returning to his best.
Cavaleiro – made a big impact in his two sub appearances since returning from injury.
Traore – had a couple of strong runs at the defence.
Saiss – bizarre to see him come on and play at the centre of the attack. Not sure how often he touched the ball, if at all, and was just employed to ensure Palace couldn’t build their game from the back, a tactic made by Nuno at halftime that was key to Wolves gaining the upper hand.
15 points from 8 games is a fabulous start to Wolves return to the top flight and that’s enough to put them 7th in the league and to have their fans wondering just how high they can finish this season. After another International break the next game is against Watford at Molineux on the 20th October. Watford’s bright start to the season seems to have come to an end and they were humbled 4-0 at home by Bournemouth at the weekend, with two of their defenders getting cards that will see them suspended for the Wolves game. Who knows, that might lead to Wolves getting another 3 points.