Wolves aiming to outwit the FoxesBy: DJ | September 15th, 2012
After the International break league football returns this weekend and for Wolves it’s a home game against Leicester on Sunday at 13:15. The last fortnight will have been a time for Stale Solbakken to spend some time on the training ground instilling into the players the game he wants Wolves to play this season and he will now be forming an opinion on the formation and the players that can lead to a promotion challenge.
The next international break comes in the second weekend of October but there are six league matches and a League Cup tie at Chelsea in the next 4 weeks, so we should have a good idea how the season is going to pan out by the time all those games are out of the way. He will have most players available for selection this weekend barring long term injury victims Wayne Hennessey and Jamie O’Hara who both look likely to be available by late October. But for now the team Solbakken chooses this weekend should be the best indication so far of who he considers to be his key players and what formation he will choose to play.
Carl Ikeme started the season as first choice keeper almost by default as De Vries was being linked with a move away in August. But the Nigerian, who spent some time at Leicester on loan last season, has done fine and will probably retain his place for now. Defensively, the centre back pairing of Johnson and Berra have done well so new signing Magreitter will probably have to wait for his chance for the time being. Stephen Ward will doubtless continue at left back, but there is a question mark over who should be first choice right back. Ronald Zubar has not played well so far and moving Stearman to right back is something Solbakken tried with some success against Northampton in the League Cup, but it’s the return from injury of Kevin Foley that presents the main option for change. He was Wolves player of the season in their last spell in this division and it was a surprise to many, including me, that he didn’t go on to be one of the success stories when the team moved up to the top flight. But now is his chance to get his career back on track and that may well start on Sunday.
There will be a welcome return after injury also for Karl Henry as the skipper was certainly missed at Cardiff in the last game. There are plenty of options for who fills the other midfield places and the manager also has the option of playing a 4-4-2, 4-5-1, or 4-2-3-1 formation with the players he has. Doumbia will doubtless start alongside Henry in the middle. But Sako, Boukari, Peszko, Edwards and Davis will all be pushing for a start, with Peszko and Sako the likely choices if the manager sticks to 4-4-2.
Up front, the most expensive summer signing Bjorn Sigurdarsen is now fit for selection and will be competing with Ebanks Blake to start alongside Kevin Doyle. SEB has done ok so far and looks the most likely goal scorer, but Sigurdarsen may offer more to Wolves all round game and it has been encouraging that Doyle has knocked in a couple of goals lately. Wolves fans are keen to see what the Icelandic striker can offer and he will surely get a chance soon.
Leicester were made one of the pre-season favourites for promotion and come to Molineux 10th in the League. Their season started ok with a home win against Peterborough, then they lost difficult away games at Blackburn and Charlton before winning at home to Blackpool last time. They also had a shock home defeat to Burton in the League Cup. Their manager Nigel Pearson did well at the club for a couple of years but fell out with the then owner Milan Mandaric and left to join Hull. But after Mandaric moved on he rejoined the club last November. Their main summer signing Vardy from Fleetwood is partnering Nugent up front and they are keeping Beckford out of the team at the moment. They have experienced players in Sean St Ledger, Paul Konchesky and Andy King and have the look of a solid rather than exciting team, and have a very good home record in recent years to make them promotion possibles. Games between Leicester and Wolves have been pretty tight over the recent years with half the last 20 games ending in draws. The last 8 league games between the teams at Molineux have seen 4 draws and 3 Leicester wins. The only Wolves win came in the Premier League in 2003 when Wolves gave their opponents a 3 goal start before winning 4-3.
I doubt if we will see that much excitement at Molineux on Sunday but Wolves will be very happy to get three more points on the board and get some momentum going in their season. The game may well start with Wolves in a relegation position dependant on Saturday’s results and even at this early stage that will not be a comfortable position for the new manager to find himself in. So lets hope the start of a march up the table is just around the corner and that the new manager and players prove that a move back to challenging at the right end of the table is not too far away.