Ahead of this afternoon’s Premier League clash between West Ham United and Wolverhampton Wanderers at London Stadium, Wolves fan Jake Flock gives us the opposition view on the match.
First world problems. My Spotify has been having a mare this week. Even if I hit shuffle, it seems to only play two or three artists out of hundreds. There is a reason that I’m telling you this, bear with me. One of the bands that I’ve been hearing more of this week is Milburn and that seems to have been a blessing in disguise as I have a number of their different songs on my playlist, but they don’t seem to come around very often. “Try as you may, you can’t keep the Wolves at bay” – I did smile when it came on. Mainly because it rang so true, but also due to the fact that they’re a Sheffield band and we’d just beat Wednesday 2-0. Good result and good performance, more on that later.
Fortune’s Always Hiding
Our first trip into The Smoke beckons today as we take on Pellegrini’s side. Let’s hope our fortune is more favourable in London this season than it was last year because we were shocking in the capital. West Ham’s fortune has been hiding pretty well thus far this season, however, like us, they got their first win of the season in the Carabao Cup during the week. They saw off AFC Wimbledon after going behind to an early goal. Apart from that, it’s not been plain sailing for the Irons. Losses to Bournemouth, Arsenal and Liverpool mean they’re without a point this season.
You could argue that games at Anfield and The Emirates are always going to be difficult and while that may be true, it doesn’t mean the pressure won’t be on the claret & blue side today. If I’m not mistaken, I believe Pellegrini has already called it a ‘must-win’. I think it’s a tad early for that, but whatever ever floats your boat, Manuel. Let’s take a look at the stats from West Ham’s game against Bournemouth as that gives us the best idea of what to expect.
Possession Doesn’t Always Mean Prizes
Against Bournemouth, West Ham had the majority of the ball (60-40) yet they only managed to score via the penalty spot. They also completed over 150 more passes than the side from the South Coast, nevertheless, it was Eddie Howe’s side who came away with the victory thanks to second-half goals from Callum Wilson and Steve Cook.
From the above image which illustrates West Ham’s average position on the pitch, they’re effectively playing a 4-2-4 and if they opt for a similar system against us, I’d like to think we will tear them apart. Wolves, Wolves will tear you apart. That being said, I can’t imagine Pellegrini will opt for a central two of Noble and Wilshere like he did here (16 & 19), either way, this game should be perfect for us. Enough about the opposition, let’s talk all things Wolvo.
Dendoncker & Co Seize Their Chance
After our valiant performance against Man City last weekend, it’s hard to imagine Nuno will make any changes to the starting XI. Traore is still knocking on the door and did nothing to hurt his credentials with an assist in the Cup. Yes, it took a fortuitous deflection to reach Bonatini, but hey, an assist is an assist. Something I’m very happy with is the inclusion of the youngsters. We finally seem to have the balance right.
Elliot Watt made his first-team bow and didn’t disappoint, his range of passing particularly stood out as he spent the majority of his evening in the attacking half, which is always a bonus. As I’ve touched on quite a few times, to be a ‘Nuno player’ you have to be able to pass the ball and when you consider that Watt’s success rate is 90%, it’s easy to see why he’s highly thought of. If you’re going to be ultra-critical, you could argue that he needs to win more duels, although that will come in time. He slotted back into the U23s last night as we saw off Norwich 3-1, a treble for Ashley-Seal maintaining our unbeaten start at that level.
Another player who impressed was Dendoncker. He played on the right side of the back three and again, it gives Nuno a dilemma as to whether to stick with Bennett or bring in Dendoncker. For me, I think it depends on the opposition. Bennett, at the moment, is a better defender in our system. Dendoncker has much better distribution. Due to the fact we are be going to be breaking quickly, I would play Dendoncker today as it could be the difference between winning and losing. I realise that sounds a bit daft, but think about it. Traore is on the halfway line with only one defender in his way and the ball is on the right side. Who do you want making that pass out of Bennett and Dendoncker? Only one winner, unfortunately.
We need to win. I don’t care if West Ham are an established club, we should be beating them. Hell, we should’ve beaten Leicester. And Man City. Probably Everton, as well. I don’t want to keep on repeating the same thing that we were unlucky and our time will come because people will begin to get impatient. I’m not in the camp as I love Nuno too much. Nuno knows we are good enough to beat these and so do I. Let’s get it done. The strength of the wolf is in the pack and all that jazz.
In Other News
I’ve got a couple of things I need to get off my chest. Firstly, Danny Batth has finally departed. Everyone saying they wish him well and that because he was a great club ambassador and what have you. Do me a favour. His job is to play football and he is awful. He has been stealing a living for far too long, good fucking riddance.
Secondly, it’s become apparent that we’re the loudest fans in the Premier League. Which is all well and good when you’ve played at 17:30 on a Saturday for the opening game and the defending champions, let’s see how vocal our support is against Burnley on a Sunday, that’s a true measure.
Finally, our Jumilla revolution continues to grow and we’ve now got nine players over there. I was told that they do have Ibiza and Marbella in their league, so I think I might start following them. Jokes aside, I’m going to begin a weekly segment on them, maybe later today, maybe Monday. We’ll see.
One More Thing
If I was a betting man and luckily I am, I’d be backing Wolves. Simple. 15/8 is a massive price. Get the kids uni fund on it.
Until the next time.