Written by Rodmorg
Having only tasted victory on a solitary occasion in the past seven matches (that could be described as being a ‘lucky win’), Bournemouth travelled to the Molineux, where Wolves had won their previous two matches after a bad run of form. Given this, at least a point was expected among some fans of the Cherries.
During when it is possibly the worst time to have injuries, December had not been a lucky month in this aspect. Injuries to Dan Gosling, Lewis Cook, Adam Smith and now Simon Francis meant that Eddie was forced to play an out-of-form Jordon Ibe at wing-back with Tyrone Mings being reintroduced into the side after his impressive performance against Man City a fortnight ago. Andrew Surman captained the side against the team that handed his first ever Premier League start, while Junior Stanislas replaced David Brooks on the wing. Callum Wilson and Marc Pugh returned to the bench.
The match kicked off to a bright start with the weather portraying otherwise. In the coldness, Bournemouth had dominated possession and looked to get a goal quickly, only for Wolves to score first. A throw-in for Daniels met Surman who returned it, Daniels drove the ball into the desolate midfield for an opposite man to latch onto and drive forwards. His shot dragged wide, meeting Jimenez to shoot into an empty net.
The game dragged on with little to no chances for either side. Cook and Lerma had been booked for hauling down players and Mings was another much-needed player that added to the list of injured players with a back injury. He attempted to carry on but could not stand the pain induced from a collision with Daniels and another and eventually came off for Diego Rico.
Bournemouth had not seen a shot on target until just before half time, as Surman laid-off to Lerma from 30 yards out, who drove an audacious effort into Patricio’s hands; with the wind not on his side.
Half Time: Wolves 1-0 Bournemouth.
After their main striker left for injury, Bournemouth restarted brightly after kick off. An energetic display especially from Lerma and Surman down the middle caused panic at the Wolves back line as Bournemouth hunted for an equaliser. It culminated in Surman dragging wide as our most prosperous period of the game dwindled down to Wolves counter-attacking and shooting over from 6 yards out.
Callum Wilson came on just before the hour mark and moments later Stanislas hit the crossbar with an exquisite free kick on the left-hand side, as the Cherries were getting much more desperate for an equaliser. Wilson had a chance to grab it, only for his shot to be miraculously blocked by Boly. Eddie rolled the dice and brought on Mousset and switched to a back-four that, arguably, should have been done earlier.
As more and more men were thrown forward to snatch a point, this was to no avail as on the counter, Wolves sealed the all-important three points with Cavaleiro driving past the on-rushing Begovic with the last kick of the game.
Full Time: Wolves 2-0 Bournemouth
Asmir Begovic – 6: Could not prevent the first goal and had a 50-50 chance of preventing the second, but had good distribution across the game. Produced a good save to deny further disappointment.
Steve Cook – 6: Was well in the air and could’ve risked sending off early in the first half. Pushed forward and made some good passes but his long throw-ins posed no threat to the opposition.
Nathan Ake – 5: Not his usual self and looked very demotivated. Was not involved during much of the game, with his lack of creativity.
Tyrone Mings – 6: Unfortunate for the injury but looked bright again, and pushed forward down the left wing.
Charlie Daniels – 5: A terrible mistake to make when we had looked the better team, but eventually grew into the game and then did reasonably well when he shifted to be part of the back three.
Andrew Surman – 7 – MOTM: Had very accurate passing today and one of the few motivated. Became much more of a presence in the second half and got into some good positions, with some good defending too. Began to tire near the end but one of the few that performed well.
Jefferson Lerma – 7: Played well but continued to lose the ball in dangerous places, got some powerful efforts saved too. His deep physical presence allowed Surman to have some space further forward.
Jordon Ibe – 4: Very complacent and kept running into cul-de-sacs and on most occasions lost out. Another disappointing game for him, and had little to no influence on pushing the team forward.
Junior Stanislas – 4: Was non-existent for most of the match but made a cameo appearance after his effort hit the bar, then was hardly involved afterwards.
Josh King – 5: Missed having a striking partner to feed off of and provide to. Looked rather lost up front but was more involved when moved to the wing, and unlucky not to see his strike bulge the back of the net late on.
Ryan Fraser – 5: Didn’t look confident throughout the match. Moved to RB and got forward a few times but was bullied by the opposition’s defenders. His crossing from corners was okay.
Diego Rico (Tyrone Mings – 35) – 4: Awful in the first half and constantly gave the ball away. Grew into the game in the second half but Daniels seemed to do more on the left side despite being a central defender.
Callum Wilson (Jordon Ibe – 58) – 4: Could not provide the spark to ignite a comeback, and this game was not entirely for him. Only contribution of note was his shot that was unluckily blocked a few minutes after coming on.
Lys Mousset (Junior Stanislas – 80) – N/A
Overall Team Performance – 4: Very off colour against a team that wasn’t their best either. Both sides had three shots on target and Wolves were the ones better off. Focussing on wing play was no benefit as the wingers and wing backs were usually bullied out of play. Central midfield was slightly better than mediocre.
A frustrating game to watch. The result didn’t help with the omission of Francis, Cook, Gosling and Smith who have all had some great contributions so far this season. Morale looks very low at the moment after the battering against Liverpool and the loss today will only plummet confidence. Some, if not, most, players here are easily affected by confidence and it was evident today. With no recognised right-back available, times are in dire straits – keeping in mind the next three away games are Spurs, Man United and Everton, all after a Cup match with Chelsea on the 19th.
Eddie attempted to solve this issue by shifting to a back three with Ibe at wing-back, but to no avail. Perhaps a more preferable option would have been Pugh there but his current level of quality is disputed and having no appearances in the Premier League this season doesn’t help too. However, the few appearances he has made have been in cup fixtures and he’s done well, especially against Norwich (of whom are yo-yoing at the top of the Championship). Thus maybe Pugh should start at RWB/RB if Francis is not available on the 19th or against Brighton.
The tactics were one of the leading factors for the loss aside from the injuries. As mentioned, to mitigate the injury issue on the right side Eddie was forced into a back three, with three up top and four in the middle. We were quite comfortable down the middle with Surman and Lerma but were so weak on the right side with Ibe and Stanislas. It just seems that three at the back isn’t working. The only time it has this season was against Fulham… who are bottom of the table at the time of writing. When 4-4-2 has been played, performances have been better even if they were losses, such as the 1-2 defeats against Arsenal and Man United, the 4-2 win over Leicester and the 4-0 win over Watford. One observation this season is the utilisation of three at the back away and four at home. Against the likes of Fulham, Man City and Wolves today there’s been a back three and all of these were away. Considering that last season the formation was used against tougher opposition, it’s interesting that it has been used against sides that are considered to be more ‘weak’, while a back four has been used at home, no matter the quality of the opposing side. Perhaps the result may have been different if a back four was used.
I think the game against Brighton is a significant one and probably pivotal as to where our overall standing is at the end. Word of relegation has sprung up recently but nearly midway through the season and at 10th position (at the time of writing), it is highly unlikely that we’ll be involved considering who we’ve played and the points we’ve accumulated. Up next is Chelsea in the Carabao Cup on Tuesday the 19th, and after that, a hosting of Brighton.
— Jefferson Lerma (@jeffersonlerma) December 15, 2018
New Forest Cherry wrote…
The starting formation worked today, loads of room between the lines for Daniels, Fraser and Stanislas in the first half especially, only when Wolves went to a back 5 and closed the game out did we look clueless,
lack of quality in the final third and Daniels woeful pass killed us. – Join the conversation, click here.