Analysis & Ratings: Wolves v Aston Villa
Everybody knows by now that its like riding on a roller-coaster to be a fan of Wolves, but this game gave me a ride I’ll never forget. I was totally exhausted afterwards and it felt like I’d been out there with the lads for 90 minutes.
Already against Spurs there were two players that took command over the rest in the team and were the ones that moved the ball forward. Kightly and Frimpong did that again against Villa and what we witnessed last night was a balanced Wolves team for the first time in years, with strength in the forward moves, in the inner midfield and two wingers ready to explode like race horses from their boxes on the flanks.
Jarvo and Kights – Havoc & Mayhem – were back again and the play looked like when they ruled the Championships. I have no doubt that it was an in form Kightly that provided the spark to the rest of the team and Frimpong followed example and provided him with the balls and shelter fom the storm.
The Berra mistake in the box, the penalty and the goal in the back only made the team more determined to show what they could do and the only surprise was that it took so long for them to score the equaliser. It was like watching a team playing in trance and everything suddenly clicked. Wolves went forward wave after wave and they also had the strength to press the Villa defence for minutes with corners and clever passing. Excellent!
The first goal was a fantastic curl by Kightly, who else, and ten minutes later the inspired Johnson contributed with an assist with a header that Edwards flicked into the net. Wolves were in the lead, but they didn’t stop playing because of that. With another goal in that inspired run we would surely have taken all three points out of this game. Nobody believed anything else at this stage of the game. We had total control and everything smelled like roses.
Expectations were high at boveril-time although some probably were worried that the team would back down and try to defend the lead for 45 minutes. Tendencies in that direction could also be sighted. Kights didn’t get forward and our attacking power was not at all at the same level as in the first half. Why? Villa made a change at halftime. Agbonlahor was sick and had to go out and McLeish had an opportunity to strengthen the left flank of his team by bringing on Warnock on left back, pushing up their security risk Clark to midfield. The heydays for Kightly were thereby over.
The same Clark though redeemed himself a little by taking care of a fatal try to clearance by Jarvis and found Robbie Keane in an excellent position with his pass. He fired a volley and Villa had levelled the score.
Shortly after that Wolves looked good in attack again, trying to get the lead back, when Frimpong gave everything to get his head on a ball to the left close to goal when Petrov hit his head with his boot. The unfortunate Frimpong had to be stretchered out and the second big threat going forward for Wolves was gone.
Milijas came on and although he played a good game his style of play is nowhere near that of the energetic young Arsenal player. Jarvis came to life as Milijas strengthened his side of midfield with his presence and passing and he had a cross in to Kights in the area, but he didn’t manage to head it at goal.
Instead we had to witness the former Wolves academy player Robbie Keane collecting a brace with a superb shot from 20 yards out. I would say that he was lucky and I don’t believe he can do that again if he tries a hundred times, but he is a very skilled player on his day. So misery struck us and it would get worse.
An incident occurred when Albrighton and Henry were locked together, or clearly put Albrighton locked the leg of Henry with his hands. Henry couldn’t control his anger and kicked Albrighton in the chest to get free, but the referee was only steps away and correctly by the book gave him the red card. Idiotic by Henry as he destroyed the chances for Wolves to get level with Villa and maybe still win the game.
With ten men we still pushed on though. We attacked mostly from the left with Jarvo, Ward and Milijas playing the ball up between them, but the team was weakened an the attempts were stopped by the Villa defence. From balloon to brick in 90 minutes, that was how it felt in my body anyway.
Summary. As I said in my pre-match article we do have the players to stay up in this league and they showed that with aplomb during the first half. With Kightly and Jarvo on the flanks and Ward and Foley supporting them we can pose a threat going forward to any team. Hopefully the injury of Frimpong is less grave than first understood and he can continue as our engine. The loss of Henry for three games does not bother me. Milijas can fill his role and I hope Henry will find himself on the bench, out of the starting eleven, when he comes back. Actually the balance of the team will be even better with Milijas and Frimpong in the middle as Milijas likes to play to the left and Frimpong to the right.
In my pre-match article I was very negative about the managing of the team by Mick McCarthy. That still stands, but he did nothing wrong yesterday. It was bad luck and individual mistakes that made our downfall, but the way the team played the first half gives hope for the rest of the season. This team play way too good to go down!
Hennessey – 6 – Found Fletcher with kick-outs many times and I like that he practised the art of throwing out the ball to Foley and others in this game. It looked though that he could have done better on the first goal by Keane. I take a point off for that.
Foley – 8 – An excellent feed of Kightly in this game and an 89% of completed passes tells us what we have lacked in the team when he was out injured. With him in the team we can play instead of kick the ball up the field and that changes our entire game. Foley is by that one of our most important players in the run in, but for now he will have to do with the little smiley. Oh, and he filled in for H in the middle very well too.
Johnson – 8 – A cliff in defence in this game as against Tottenham. Clearly in form now and also an assist, just what we need in the run in. He and the next man has to practise better passes though.
Berra – 5 – What was he thinking? Or he shouldn’t have at all, just kicked the ball up the field. Sunday football defending! The worst passer in the game too. Luckily Johnson stepped forward in this game to make our defence stronger. Hopefully he will get back to his normal self pronto.
Ward – 6 – Maybe the only one with a better second than first half, but I believe that was due to the strengthening of the left side when Milijas came on. He can do better!
Henry – 4
Frimpong – 8 – I’ve said most of it above, but what a catch this young man is. Just what the team needed. From a Minis engine to a Ferrari engine-wise. We got a taste of what he could do against Tottenham and now he played out. I really hope that he will be back in full throttle already against Liverpool. His cooperation with Kightly was excellent and they went forward together as soon as they had the opportunity. What a difference a player make! Frimpong will get the little star. If he had played the whole game he might have been given the big one.
Milijas – 6 – Came on for Frimpong with half an hour left and played much better than in the cup against Birmingham. Had a lot going with Ward and Jarvo on the left and I hope to see more of that in the coming games. He must be better at passing the ball, though, and his famous left foot seem not to be in shape.
Kightly – 8 – He is not lightning fast, but he sure has the spark and the creativity to cause havoc among opposition defence. As I said above we now have our flying wingers back from the glory days of the Championship and – with the right backing – they have gathered the strength now to do the same thing to Premiership teams as they did then and there.
Perhaps he had an easy task with Clark in the first half and found it much harder with Warnock, but with a couple of games more he will be a lethal threat to any defender and he showed us his special skills by scoring a beautiful goal yesterday aswell. MM has tried many solutions to copy the success of Jarvo and Kights on the flanks, but nothing is as good as the original. Michael Kightly is Paddytheflea’s Star Man!
Edwards – 7 – Sometimes he disappears from pay, but then he pops up again from or in the box. He did that at the right moment in this game just after I had cursed him for not scoring on a sitter. Works hard all over as usual, but can he beat the competition of O’Hara when he is up and running again, hopefully against Liverpool?
Jarvis – 6 – A point withdrawn for giving the ball away prior to the second Villa goal. Outshined by Kights, but clearly also inspired by him, at going forward, of course, but he had some good spells when Kights was blocked in the second half and in the first half aswell. A little taste of what we could have if everything works out in the future.
Fletcher – 7 – Didn’t get many chances at goal in this game as he was heavily guarded by the Villa defence, but he did what he could and he was excellent in working back and fighting for the ball, sometimes getting it, at midfield. When he gets it I’ve noticed that he is very good at those deep passes trying to find a running Wolf between the opponents defenders. Will score against Liverpool, of course, he always do against the big teams.