I’m nervous ahead of this weekend’s action as Wolverhampton host atford for a 3PM kickoff. Wolves have taken points from their last five games, winning four of them. After starting the season in stunning fashion, at 4.0, the Hornets have fallen off the pace, losing three out of four games and picking up four points in the last five games. Watford did this last season at the same time. It was a slide they were unable to recover from. Conversely, Wolves have shot up to 7th in the league table with a chance to be in the top four come weekend’s end.
Wolves streak is on par with the likes of Man City, Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal. It’s been a run that has been powered by defense than then offense, as they have scored just 6 goals over that five-game period. Not impressive, but the fact Wolves continue to see great success early on bears witness to their transfer window acquisitions making a big impact as Wolves returned to the Premier League for the first time since the 2011/12 season, where they lasted three seasons before relegation.
While Watford hasn’t been overly impressive recently with no goals in their last two games and could find chances thin this weekend, as Wolves have been impressive defensively, led by Rui Patricio. He’s helped lead the defense to four clean sheets on the season and is coming off back to back wins, posting 10 saves and doubling the team’s clean sheets. His play and leadership at the back will be key to Wolves shutting down Watford.
The play of Wolves defenders has been in the spotlight, as they continue to shine at both ends of the pitch. Matt Doherty has been the most impressive, picking up a goal and assist in a 2-0 win over Southampton and 1-0 win away to Crystal Palace. The five-man defense allows Doherty and Jonny to play box to box as the wingbacks with Wily Boly, Conor Coady and Ryan Bennett in the middle. I feel the Hornets will have a difficult time breaking down this defense.
One player that could help this week is Gerard Deulofeu, who returned to action for Watford in their last game, getting 16 minutes on the pitch, as he’s worked hard to regain fitness. Partnered with Roberto Pereyra, the Hornets have pace and skill with these dynamic players on the flanks. They can deliver some excellent crosses from the wide position, but can also cut inside, providing shots on goal.
Wolves continue to rely on the stewardship of Nuno Espirito Santo, who’s put together a solid game plan as their style has taken teams by surprise as they continue to string wins together. “He is an ambitious coach and we are ambitious players. We link well and he always gives us good advice in every moment, even at bad times he knows how to react and deal with us,” said Diogo Jota in a recent interview.
Javi Gracia has hit his first rough patch of the season, something he faced last season when he took over after the board dismissed Marco Silva. While Watford haven’t played badly, outside of the Bournemouth game, they’ve run into a streak of bad luck; 78’ goal by Alexsandr Mitrovic, red card issued to Christian Kabasele in the League Cup, resulting in late Spurs goals and the own goal off Craig Cathcart against Arsenal.
While these aren’t excuses, the Hornets have looked good on the pitch. Gracia believes the pace of Wolves will play to the Hornets advantage and allow them to get up and down the pitch. “We know going there will not be easy, but we know what we are capable of in that dressing room. We need to put it right. It doesn’t get any easier, does it, playing Wolves, but we know we can go there and get a result,” said forward, Andre Gray
Maybe the international break is what the Hornets needed to break duck and get back on winning ways. While Wolves are a newly promoted club, I do feel they have the advantage ahead of the 3PM kickoff. Lee Mason, will hopefully not factor into the final decision, as his lone red card was incorrectly issued to Kabasele in the league cup.
Finally assessment, I think Wolves will be took much defensive for Watford to handle and will end up posting a 1-0 win.