Wolves lost their six-game unbeaten run when Watford scored twice in a minute in the first half at Molineux on Saturday. It was a day when Wolves played below par and Watford probably above par and there was little doubting that the visitors deserved their success. Fielding the same team for the ninth consecutive league game Wolves were second best in the first half when Watford scored twice in the 21st minute, and although the home team improved after the break they never seriously threatened to rescue the game.
The first goal came courtesy of a powerful low drive from 25 yards by Capoue that went through Coady’s legs and mis-sighted Patricio who never moved as the ball sped into the net. And less than a minute later some slick passing from the visitors saw them break through on the left and Pereyra produced the finish. Watford went close to extending their lead in the second half when Doucoure was sent through but an excellent challenge by Neves came to the rescue. Foster was never seriously troubled in the Watford goal. Bennett headed a Moutinho corner across the area and Boly facing away from goal tried a back heel but didn’t get any power and it was easily saved. And Costa had a half-chance late on but shot over.
I do think the International break had an impact on the Wolves performance. Jonny Castro played his first two games for Spain and he also became a father for the first time. Doherty was another that played two internationals for the first time. And Jimenez appeared twice in Mexico with the second game not ending until 5am UK time on Wednesday. All three looked less mobile than usual and it was no coincidence that these were the three players substituted during the game.
The other significant factor was that Watford got their tactics spot on. Moving away from their usual 442 they played a narrow 4231 and effectively packed the midfield with five players. That meant Neves and Moutinho were simply crowded out of the game. To add to Wolves problems it has to be said that Watford played really well with Pereyra, Capoue, Hughes and Deulofeu outstanding.
Patricio 6 – left rooted to the spot by the first goal but despite Watford’s superiority didn’t have a busy afternoon.
Bennett 6 – like most Wolves players was troubled by the slick passing of the visitors particularly for the second goal.
Coady 7 – probably Wolves best player on the day with some good distribution and kept calm in defence when others were struggling.
Boly 6 – had a mixed game with some impressive runs out of defence, but was caught in possession a couple of times in the second half.
Doherty 5 – not the usual energy about his game.
Moutinho 5 – his least effective game for the club so far. Rushed a lot of the time by the Watford midfield and gave the ball away surprisingly often.
Neves 6 – the crowded midfield meant he had to go very deep to get any time on the ball.
Castro 4 – never seemed up to the speed of the game and was taken off at halftime.
Costa 6 – the best of the attackers but missed a couple of half chances in the second half.
Jimenez 5 – lacked his usual mobility although didn’t get anything to feed off.
Jota 5 – made a few decent runs but you feel he needs a goal to get back to his best.
Vinagre 6 – replaced Castro at halftime and played his part in the improved second half with some good positive runs.
Cavaleiro and Traore came on during the second half and both had some bright moments without really hurting the opposition defence.
This was not the Wolves we have become accustomed to so far this season and it will be interesting to see whether Nuno sticks again to the same 11 or takes this defeat as the excuse to finally make some changes. Personally, I think after a free week on the training ground there may not be the need to change a team that has generally been doing really well. It’s Brighton away next Saturday and I suspect we will see a much-improved Wolves in that one.