With zero points from 3, we move onto a game which may have been more suited to our league position against a team enjoying their first run in the prem since the 2011-2012. Holding onto their Championship talisman Neves ,they have also signed West Ham target Dendoncker and Adama Traore from Boro.
West Ham this week enjoyed their first win of the season beating Wimbledon away in the League cup. Hopefully this gave the team some confidence moving into a game, while not a must win would be a big confident boost ahead of the international break. Of out 2 current mysterious injuries, Marko made the squad while Noble made the bench. What was interesting was Ogbonna was bombed out completely, and the centre back pairing consisted of Balbuena and League Cup scorer Diop.
So we start for the first time this season with one up top. Presumably to counter the fast midfield of the opposition. Should we be doing this at home ? No, is my opinion as we should use the OS to our advantage. This was borne out as even though WHU had the early advantage , Marko was on his own, against 3 defenders, and looked lost and almost disinterested. Snodgrass and Antonio were not as effective as they should be , but at least Snodgrass made an effort. That may be because Antonio started on the left. This is now 3 consecutive managers who are just trying to squeeze him in. He needs to either start on the right or not at all. Anderson seems to be a luxury we could do without right now despite him nearly opening the scoring early on. I don’t think he went past a player at any time in the game. Jack Wilshere was quite industrious in the middle. But with nothing going forward and when it did going nowhere, it was all huff and puff. Wolves were very tidy, and took advantage when they could and finished off the half on top.
Having seen Yarmolenko in mid week, my opinion was he needed to be on, and at the half time break he was duly introduced and made an effect almost immediately on the right and by playing further up the pitch. Anderson was still poor, but after 20 minutes Jack (who was starting to pull strings) was subbed for Obiang. Watching the body language suggests this was planned from the beginning. Once again I disagree. And I would have been wrong, as Obiang did liven things up and we seemed to have more connection with the front line. Hernandez was introduced maybe 10 minutes too late (75) and although he did link it up we still didn’t get any clear cut chances.
Our guests however, were getting better as the half went on (as per the first half – not sure if this is their “thing”) and the introduction of Traore gave some pace to attack our relatively solid centre back pairing. As the whole ground was getting ready to leave after a 6/10 0-0, Traore struck well from distance and beat Fabianski to nail us the bottom of the league and 0 points from 4 (last time this happened we went down).
A draw was the right result, but as in the Allardyce years , we have to play for the whole game and keep our concentration to keep this things more predictable.
Back to Wolves, fair play to them and big shout to their fans, who made themselves known the whole time. And had a big ole tifo flag, not seen in the away end since Juventus in 2016.
So what does Pellegrini do ? 2 up top is essential. Also, we have to be careful not to become the Marko show. I think making him the main man , is not good for him personality wise. Also, when him and Hernandez are on, surely Chicarito should be on the last man and not Marko. Once has played 3 World Cups and been a successful striker all his career, and the other, while good, has played up top for 1/2 a season. Marko also has the physical presence to win the balls and make the passes. Our midfield needs to be more consistent. Anderson left, Yarmo right, and Jack and Obiang in the middle. There, I’ve done it , I’ve dropped Noble. Only for a few weeks but he needs to see how he fits in this team, with the likes of Rice around as well. Diop seemed to play well yesterday which could be bad news for Ogbonna, as Balbuena was my MOTM.
No one is happy , and Everton away next. But if we play well, we stay up. Carry on chopping and changing and we get to have the most expensive team and stadium in the Championship, without the fighters required to get out of it.