Wolves resumed playing after the lockdown and it was as if they had never been away. They gained a deserved win over West Ham and the only sadness was that the usual 3,000 away following were not able to be there to complete the occasion.
Writer: DJ Wolves
In the four games against the Hammers since the return to the top flight, Wolves have won them all and not conceded a goal, and the 2-0 success on Saturday did not flatter Wolves.
Nuno decided to start the game with a solid 352 formation with Dendoncker starting and Traore on the bench. And the game got underway with Wolves dominating the game. That led to a different challenge as they often rely on breakaways in away games, but here they were in control of the game with the Hammers on the back foot from the word go. Jota was looking really sharp in the first half and with support from Jonny they were posing most problems on the left hand side. They weren’t though able to create a clear opening with a couple of long range Jota efforts the only thing to test the home keeper. And from a rare breakaway, West Ham had the best chance of the half when Fornals got clear but blasted over the bar.
As the second half got underway it looked like the game hinged on whether Wolves could turn their superiority into a goal. And as it started to look like that may not happen Nuno decided to make a change. Jota and Dendoncker were withdrawn with Traore and Neto introduced. The change from 352 to 343 also lead to a change in direction with most of the Wolves attacks now coming from the right. And that produced the desired result as a great run from Traore saw him pass three home defenders before a perfect cross found Jimenez on the far post to head in. And then when Traore sent Doherty through on the right the wing back stood up his cross to the far post and it floated over the head of Jimenez to Neto coming in from the left who hit a sensational volley into the roof of the net.
Patricio 7 – the Hammers were crowding the six yard box to make things difficult for the keeper from dead ball situations but his handling was impeccable.
Boly 7 – won a lot of balls on the ground and in the air and as usual played the ball out well from the back.
Coady 7 – another who immediately slotted back into his A game.
Saiss 6 – perhaps the one player who looked a little short of his best game with some loose passes and being caught out of possession.
Doherty 7 – had a quiet first half but got more into the game as it wore on and set up the second goal.
Neves 8 – had a really good game with some testing long passes and won possession on a number of occasions.
Moutinho 7 – as reliable as ever in the middle of the park.
Jonny 8 – had a really good first half getting forward to pressure the inexperienced Hammers right back.
Jimenez 7 – linked up well with Jota first half and was in the right place to stick home the vital first goal.
Jota 8 – excellent in the first hour and the biggest threat to West Ham in that time. Probably unlucky to be taken off.
Traore 8 – made an enormous impact when he came on, with some great runs down the right and in the centre and his run and cross for the first goal was textbook winger play. Many will say he should have started but on the other side of the coin, it is no exaggeration to say he could be the most dangerous player in the world to bring on for the last half hour against tiring opposition.
Neto 7 – a goal fit to win any game, he just couldn’t have hit it better. His progress is relentless and Wolves have signed a host of star players in the last three years and it’s not impossible that he could become the best of the lot.
This win took Wolves to 6th place and only behind Man Utd in 5th on goal difference. Games coming up in the next week against struggling Bournemouth and Villa gives an opportunity to consolidate that position even more. It’s with regret that the rest of the season will be played behind closed doors, but even that can’t hold back the anticipation of what this team may achieve in the coming weeks.