Wolves fell to a disappointing last gasp defeat at Bramall Lane on Wednesday, that as far as European qualification is concerned, leaves them more looking over their shoulder at contenders for a Europa League place, than looking upwards towards the Champions League. They have got nine points from five games since the restart but that vital nack of scoring goals is deserting them at the moment.
Writer: DJ Wolves
Nuno decided to revert to the 343 formation for this game with Traore and Jota starting alongside Jimenez up front and Dendoncker relegated to the bench. And that formation did lead to Wolves having more positive possession in the first half than they have had in many games. But there was an early blow when Traore again suffered from the dislocated shoulder problem that has troubled him for months now, although the Spaniard carried on playing and looked the most likely to make things happen in the opening period.
As the game wore on neither team looked like scoring and when Traore made way for Dendoncker in the second half Wolves threat was reduced further. With heavy rain making it a tiring pitch in the second half it was a surprise that was the only substitution Wolves made and perhaps indicated that Nuno does not have the confidence in the squad players to make a difference. Many thought this was the day that Podence would be given a chance, but the fact he had been in quarantine for two weeks after a trip back to Portugal for personal issues probably counted against that.
As the game moved into added time at the end of the 90, Sheffield started lumping balls into the Wolves box and won a couple of corners from an unsettled Wolves defence. And from the last of those corners, Egan powered through the Wolves rearguard to head home the winner.
Patricio 6 – as usual didn’t have a great deal to do and was powerless to stop the winner.
Boly 5 – his high standards have slipped a little in the last couple of games.
Coady 5 – another who wasn’t at his best here and his distribution was well below the usual standard.
Saiss 5 – not been as solid since the restart.
Doherty 6 – did ok on the right but his role was mostly defensive as Wolves struggled to impose any attacking pressure.
Neves 7 – one of the better players on the night despite Wolves suffering from being outnumbered in the middle of the park, Came closest to scoring when his free kick hit the bar.
Moutinho 6 – with Sheffield packing the midfield, he struggled to impose himself.
Jonny 6 – not able to make as much impact as in recent games.
Traore 7 – despite still being troubled by his shoulder which will probably need resolving with surgery at some stage, he looked the most likely to create something for Wolves.
Jimenez 7 – worked hard but was regularly needing to drop wide and deep to get on the ball.
Jota 6 – had some bright runs early on but faded as the game wore on.
Dendoncker the only sub used.
Wolves are looking solid in their games and Villa and Bournemouth never looked like scoring against them, and until the last couple of minutes, neither did Sheffield. But as an attacking force Wolves are struggling to get scoring opportunities. They have only scored two in the last four league games, and have failed to score in half of the last ten league games. That’s certainly not because they lack talent in the front line, but things are not firing at the moment. The biggest dilemma is Traore and how to get the best from his unique talent. It may be that his best position is as an impact sub because as that he is as good as any player in the game. I think Wolves chances of winning the game at Bramall Lane would probably have increased if he had replaced Dendoncker with half an hour left rather than the other way round.
The priority for Wolves now is to not finish lower than 6th. That would give them their highest league position since 1980 and would ensure another season of European football. Next up is Everton at home on Sunday lunchtime, followed by Burnley away on BBC next Wednesday, Palace at home on Monday 20th before the final game at Chelsea on the 26th.
Let’s hope they can find the back of the net enough times in those four games to avoid dropping down the table.