Told ya there was nothing to worry about. We’re now twelve points clear of second and fourteen points clear of third and yes Derby and Cardiff have got a game in hand, but, we seemed to be getting there, back to where we once were. Not that we went off the boil for long, after all, Nuno knows best. Derby are away at Millwall tonight and as we found out on Boxing Day, it’s not the easiest of places to go, but Rowett has a way of getting the three points. Tim Cahill has just re-signed for ‘Wall though, so hopefully, he’ll do some damage and we’ll see him having it off with the corner flag when he nets a last-minute winner for them. We can dream. Cardiff’s game in hand isn’t until Valentine’s Day for some reason so I’ll worry about that in a couple of weeks.
The break in Spain did the lads a world of good as we were passing and moving like we had been before our ‘blip’, if you can even call it that. We weren’t quite back to how we were against Leeds and Bolton, but in the same breath, Bialkowski was their best player by a country mile, he’s their keeper, in case you don’t know. We had ten shots on target, which was the most we’ve had in an away game since the 1st of December 2012 when we beat Bristol City 4-1 at Ashton Gate, Solbakken was the manager then, that’s a debate for another day. The only thing I’ll say is, Solbakken would have kept us up that season and I have no doubt in my mind about that, but anyway, as I’ve said, we’ll look at that another time.
Two Minor Tweaks
Nuno picked the side that everyone has come to expect now with only two minor tweaks; N’Diaye came in for Saiss who was carrying a knock and Costa came in for Bonatini, to give us a more fluid feel. I don’t know what it is, but there’s something about the front three of Costa, Cavaleiro and Jota that fills me with almost as much happiness as the trio of Dicko, Afobe & Sako, they’re not quite there yet though. Which is weird, isn’t it? When we had Dicko, Afobe & Sako, we weren’t the best, in fact at times we were poor, but, those three made you have hope. Much like when you see something that inspires you, Dicko, Afobe and Sako did that for me. Weird.
Jota, Cavaleiro, Costa & Bonatini are leaps and bounds ahead of those three and I’m not suggesting otherwise, but, you have got the sneaking feeling that Jota might go back to Atleti in the summer and I’ll be honest, I won’t cope well with that and it’ll ruin this season. Such is life. Anyway, speaking of Afobe, there are rumblings that he might be coming back before the transfer window closes. We’ve got today and tomorrow and Bournemouth play tomorrow night, so I guess the tell-tale sign will be if he’s in their squad.
More Than Firmino
Afobe left in a bit of dire way with all that went on, on the other hand, he had ambition and at the time, we didn’t, so can you blame him? Some people will mention that his goalscoring record hasn’t been the best at Bournemouth and if you look at in black and white, it reads that he’s played sixty-three games and scored ten goals, which isn’t great, let’s be honest. However, if you then break it down and look at it more closely, he’s played 2,921 minutes as opposed to the 5,670 that the ‘sixty-three games’ would have you believe. So, he has scored once every 292.1 minutes, or once every 3.2 games. Average that out over the season and he will score 11.875, or twelve if we round it up which is more than Firmino, Ozil, Eriksen and Andre Gray got last season (there are a lot more but I don’t want to bore you to tears).
Gray gets mentioned there because he’s the one I was clamouring on about last week and I’d take him in a heartbeat, I really would, but I’ve now come to the conclusion, I would take Benik in a heartbeat, as well. It’s sounding like a loan until the end of the season which raises a few questions because we’re only allowed five loans in the matchday squad at once and we’re already at that limit. There’s one of two ways you circumnavigate that, one being that we could leave Vinagre out of the squad completely or, we make one of the loans permanent. Boly would be the one for me.
He Won Every Header
On Saturday, Boly only made one tackle. The reason why he only had to make one tackle is that he just strolls around like he owns the place and cleans up in defence. I think he’s the best centre-half I’ve seen at Wolves. Period. He’s better than Lescott, he’s better than Richards (RIP) and there aren’t many others that immediately jump out. He won every header he went up for, made three interceptions and had three clearances, so all in all, a good day’s work for the Frenchman.
I must give a special mention to N’Diaye as well because he was magnificent. It was his drive with the ball that made it all happen, in many respects. He picked the ball up from Coady and went out to the right, had it back, then went to Neves, he then carried on his run and after some impressive one-touch play N’Diaye had the ball in the penalty area, he was ushered out relatively well by the Ipswich defender, but N’Diaye held the ball up expertly and waited and waited. A deft backwards roll (if that’s a thing?) to Douglas, who then put the ball into the box for Doherty to head home. The goal was marvellous. I’d even go as far to say that it was the best goal we’ve scored this season and we’ve scored a few belters.
At this point, I realise that I’ve gone off on a bit of a tangent and gone here, there and everywhere, but that was the goal that decided the game and also made it Nuno 2-0 Mick for the season, which is nice considering how we normally fall to Mick. It was also our first double of the season, which is always a good start because it took us until March to complete the same feat last season. In fact, we only completed two doubles throughout all of last season, against Forest and Brentford respectively. Progress.
We Have The Pulling Power
Yes, we could do with some movement in the transfer window in the next couple of days, but a massive piece of news came out yesterday. That was that U17 World Cup Winner Morgan Gibbs-White has signed a new four and a half year deal with us. Premier League clubs were sniffing around, but as is becoming the norm, we seem to have the pulling power now. Something we could only dream of a few years previous.
Not really got much else to add, to be honest, we’ve got Sheffield United on Saturday and I know for a fact that Leon Clarke will score because he’s just one of them players. But, arguing against myself, we did have ten men for a long time at Brammall Lane, so as long as Coady doesn’t do anything stupid, then maybe we will be alright. Even if we’re not, we’ll still have a cushion so there’s no drama.
All things considered, if I was a betting man and luckily I am, I’d be backing us to win HT/FT at the weekend @ 7/4.