Wolves produced a fine performance at Brighton that contained almost all of what is needed to win a Premier League game. The biggest missing ingredient is, of course, goals and only 4 teams in the division have scored fewer than Wolves so far this season. With a performance as dominant as this it could be argued the goals will surely start to arrive, but as the weeks go by it could turn into the Achilles Heel of the team. To be in the top half of the table at the end of October, however, means it is a shortcoming that has to be taken in context. And it was certainly an entertaining game for the record attendance at the Amex Stadium.
This wasn’t a game where Wolves were missing sitters and with a kinder run of the ball, they could have scored a hatful. They dominated the early exchanges and Traore set up Doherty for a shot that hit the raised arm of Izquierdo in the area. Some refs would have given a pen for that. Traore then shows his pace and cuts inside before hitting a firm shot well saved by the keeper. Then the best chance of the half as Doherty plays one, two’s with Costa then Jimenez before shooting just wide. Just before the break Brighton threatened for the first time and should have scored but Duffy’s header went inches wide.
Three minutes after the break the home side went ahead. Bruno mishit a shot under pressure that could have gone anywhere but went straight to Glen Murray who finished well. Wolves were almost level two minutes later when Jimenez tried an overhead kick from a narrow-angle and it went narrowly wide of the far post. Wolves piled on the pressure in the final 15 minutes with Brighton hanging on to their lead. Their keeper Ryan made fine saves to keep out long-range efforts from Doherty and a pile-driver from Neves. Then when Wolves had a free kick in a good position, Neves curled one over the wall only for Duffy to step in to head over his own bar with the keeper beaten. A brilliant Messi like run from Jota saw him beat four defenders but the keeper saved his attempt on goal. And then in the 93rd minute, keeper Ryan produced a brilliant one-handed save to keep out a header from Bennett.
Patricio 6 – had little to do.
Bennett 7 – another steady performance and almost got the equaliser late on.
Coady 7 – excellent distribution and confident in defence.
Boly 9 – had an excellent game, tidying things up at the back and setting up attacks.
Doherty 8 – his reputation gets bigger by the week, Defended well and threatened the Brighton goal as much as anyone.
Moutinho 7 – had a good tidy game in midfield.
Neves 8 – usual good range of passes, had 3 excellent shots, and was behind everything Wolves did as they pressed for the equaliser in the second half.
Jonny 6 – a relatively quiet game for the wing back but did ok.
Costa 7 – the best attacker in the first half but quieter when moved to the left after the break.
Jimenez 6 – not his most effective game and when goals are not going in the centre-forward comes under the microscope. But the forward line looks better balanced when he is there.
Traore 6 – had a couple of great runs in the first half but faded from the game as it wore on.
Cavaleiro 6 – one or two good runs but gave the ball away too frequently.
Jota 7 – looked much more like his old self once he got into the game but needs a goal.
Bonatini – came on late.
I suppose it depends whether you are a glass half full or half empty person how you look back on this game. Wolves will not often play so well and not win. But then if you don’t score goals, then you ain’t going to win. A couple of difficult games to come now against Spurs at home and Arsenal away, and Wolves will do well to retain their treasured top half league position after those games. But then if the overall performance level remains as good, those North London teams will not find Wolves an easy team to beat.
I heard a conversation between two Brighton fans in town in the evening – ‘I couldn’t go to the game today how did we play?’ Reply ‘ We were thrashed, totally outplayed, no idea how we won’. Too right mate.