Analysis & Ratings: West Ham v Wolves
This was not at all what I expected this Wolves team to do. What a lousy start to the new year.
In the first half the tempo was missing among most Wolves players and it was West Ham that was the better playing team cutting through our midfield like knife in butter.
It stands clear that everybody in this team has to play on the very top of their skills – like they did against Liverpool – otherwise they will be punished, and that they were.
Interestingly enough not in the first half – when Wolves played at their worst – but in the second when they upped their play. Both goals from West Ham came in periods when Wolves played well and were on the attack.
But that’s not so surprising, really. We are very vulnerable for counter attacks – especially from the flanks – as our full backs are not speedy and canny enough to take care of attacks coming from the wings.
And I also believe that our inner midfield is formed in a way that makes it easier for an opponent to get through fast. Both Foley and Milijas can be seen as attacking midfielders and they were doing just that – attacking, when the counter attacks came – leaving the door open for West Ham to score against play.
So if you see someone mentioning ‘individual errors’, don’t believe him. In fact our defence was not that bad against West Ham at all. Especially our central defence was brilliant and took on Piquionne and Cole very well.
But when they are able to attack with pace through our midfield so many times without being stopped it’s hard to stop them from getting some chances at goal.
I’m not at all pleased with Wolves open play in the game. Most of our chances were created from set pieces and there were only a period in the beginning of the second half when we played well taking the ball swiftly forward on the ground from defence to their penalty area getting some very good chances.
And – as usual – we didn’t score on our set pieces either. We got many corners, and I have complained on how they are taken before. But this time some of them were really good and they varied between long ones to the back post and some to the first or in the middle. They even played one short, allowing Milijas to take a shot, which he, however, sadly placed high over the bar.
The big difference when comparing this game to the Liverpool clash though, was that we didn’t succeed in taking West Ham on early and get in their faces. With Parker as the general of their midfield we just didn’t get to them. Foley and Milijas did weigh too light for this and watching this game you wonder how they could manage to dominate in Liverpool.
With both Hunty and Jarvy not in their best either, the game could only end one way, really. That’s my explanation for the fact that we got beaten, anyway. Too many players didn’t play at their best – especially on the midfield.
The question is if Wolves should use other tactics when playing away against team in our own league, so to speak. Maybe it should have been us coming on fast counter attacks taking the points home? Just a thought.
But the year has just started and we have til May to crawl up from the gutter of this league. So we are by no means counted out yet. Let’s look at the ratings.
Hennessey – 7 – A performance over par. He saved us on a couple of occasions and that is exactly what a good goalkeeper should do.
Zubar – 5 – As I’ve written before. Ronald is not in form and he makes mistakes. Anybody can get a ball on his knee who bounces into the net, but he was late on that one as he was a couple of other times when defending. Going forward he was actually better than in previous games, but on a couple of occasions that meant Stears standing in for him.
Stearman – 8 – Did a great job stopping the West Ham forwards and in my opinion he should not be given that yellow card. He is hard as steel when tackling, something many West Ham players will feel today, I’m sure. But he’s honest in his play.
And he really saved Wolves in the first half when he blocked a shot on the goal line. Fantastic! Towards the end of the game he tried hard to press forward, but it was too little to late. The main reason for us losing the game was not – as I wrote above – our central defenders not doing their jobs. Richard Stearman is Paddytheflea’s Star Man.
Berra – 7 – Nearly everything that goes for Stears goes for Berra aswell. Together they managed to stop lots of attacks. But Stears did that little extra this time.
Elokobi – 5 – Like his companion defender on the other flank he does not look to be in top form at the moment – not in defending and not going forward. Lost the ball too easy on a couple of occasions.
Foley – 5 – He tried hard as usual, but his running looked a little aimless at times. Was not the link between defence and attack that is necessary to make Wolves work as a team. A couple of times I found myself longing for Henry, and that is not a good sign.
Milijas – 6 – Was not any better than Foley in the first half, but he bettered himself a little in the second. Had a couple of chances to score, and should have taken them better.
Hunt – 5 – Didn’t get into the game at all. Looked lost and weak. Some good set pieces as usual, but that’s all. Maybe too hard matching lately?
Jarvis – 6 – This is my second rating below seven for Matt this season. Looks pleased with getting an odd corner nowadays and clearly has a dip in form. Didn’t run at all as much as he uses to and looked frustrated and without a clue. Got a couple of crosses in, though.
Ward – 6 – Didn’t get the right balls to work with for most of the time. Had a shot or two on goal, but nothing dangerous. The forwards clearly suffered by lack of service from behind.
Ebanks-Blake – 6 – Same. But even his defensive work didn’t have the impact it had against Liverpool. Missed a clear chance to score and had a couple of others aswell. So in the positive is that he is in the right place at the right time. I want him to score against Chelsea!