Wolves heading for the RiversideBy: DJ | December 14th, 2012
After two successive wins, Wolves head for the stadium built on wasteland on the banks of the River Tees in Middlesbrough to try to maintain their improvement and climb up the table. Its the first of two tests of Wolves progress before Christmas as they head across country to the west coast to Blackpool next Friday and will be looking to keep some upward momentum going as they approach the halfway stage in the season.
It has been a good season for Middlesbrough so far and they sit in third place in the league and but for a surprise home defeat to Bristol City in November would be in an even stronger position. While Wolves were slipping down the table in October, Boro were winning 6 on the trot to become strong promotion contenders. In meetings between the teams over recent years Wolves have a decent record at Molineux but on trips to the North East they have an abysmal record against Boro. Wolves haven’t won any of the last 21 visits with 12 Boro wins and 9 draws. April 1951 was the last Wolves success there so another win is about 60 years overdue.
The improvement in results recently for Wolves has followed the introduction of Sigurdarson onto the right of midfield. He has provided some goals, some pace and some linking with the two strikers. In the main however what he has done is provided some attacking threat from the right side of the field that has been missing for most of the season and caused an over reliance on Sako making things happen from the left. There is a better balance to the team as a result and that has been added to by Doyle dropping deep at times from his striking position to pick up the ball in midfield and fill the hole that has existed in the set up Solbakken has followed by playing with two defensive midfield players, two wide players, and nobody in a central attacking midfield role.
So it has to be likely that we will see an unchanged team at the weekend unless Solbakken is uncomfortable about taking an attacking line up to face an on form promotion contender. But at the end of the day he has found an improved balance with this line up and to abandon that for caution may not be the best option.
The ten point gap that now exists between Boro and Wolves serves to emphasise how much Wolves have slipped away from the promotion picture since September and to fall another 3 points away on Saturday would make it close to impossible to get back into that in the second half of the season and it will be play offs at best. But with any automatic promotion ambition being close to being buried it will be important that the recent improvement is continued so that the interest in pushing for a play off position is maintained to retain the fans interest in the current season. And two or three points from the two pre xmas away games will be needed for that to happen.