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Wolverhampton Wanderers v West Ham United - Match Preview

Filed: Thursday, 14th October 2010
By: Preview Percy

We asked the Chilean authorities if they had any plans for the hole now all the miners are free. Unfortunately, as soon as we mentioned Preview Percy they hung up. Here's his take on this weekend's trip to the Midlands.......

Next cab off the rank is a visit to Wolves for a 3pm Saturday kick-off at Molineux, a stadium which, as a kid, I was convinced was named after the food blender.

Our hosts currently lie one place above us having, like ourselves, amassed (if that's the word) five points. Their goal difference of -5 keeps them off the bottom being better than our own -9. They started the season brightly enough, with a home win over Stoke being followed up with 1-1 draws away at Everton and at home to Newcastle. However since then things have gone downhill for them and they have lost their last four, those defeats coming away at Fulham, Spurs and Wigan and at home to Villa, where Heskey's late but superb header saw them go down 2-1. Like us they are still in the League Cup, though extra time was needed to beat both Southend (2-1) and Notts County (4-2), both matches ending up 1-1 after ninety minutes. They face a trip up to Old Trafford for the next round.

Of course Wolves have been catching all the headlines of late for reasons other than their results. Their somewhat, er, robust, style of play has attracted criticism and Public Enemy No.1 in that respect has been skipper Karl Henry. Henry spent the 1-1 draw with the Geordies kicking lumps out of Joey Barton, though this is admittedly a “crime” to which many would happily turn a blind eye (presumably the one Barton had stubbed a cigar into). Henry was also involved in the tackle that broke Bobby Zamora's leg, though to these eyes that one appeared more accidental than anything. However, the tackle he perpetrated on Wigan's Gomez the other week was, on his own admission, dreadful. That tackle got the red card it deserved, which means Henry will miss this one through suspension, something that will come as a relief to one or two of the more fragile limbs in our first team squad.

The hosts are managed by Mick McCarthy who, I am reliably informed, is no relation to Benni. Whenever I see the Wolves manager on the box he seems to have an air of mild paranoia about him. He seems to treat every question put to him as if it were expressly designed to catch him out. You get the impression that if a journo were to mention to him on how nice the weather has been lately, he would call the Met Office to check the stats before making a non-committal statement to the effect that he didn't pick the weather and that they'd just have to get on with whatever came his way. Of course much of this possible paranoia might stem from the criticism his sides have come in for of late, though the siege mentality seems to pre-date the current debate. Perhaps the infamous “Keanegate” affair in the 2002 World Cup has something to do with it. McCarthy has been quick to defend his charges against the “Dirty Wolves” tag, suggesting that the aforementioned Henry “hasn't got it in his locker” to be a nasty player. Which is a bit of a relief really – who knows what damage he'd have caused Gomez had he been feeling nasty. Or even a bit mischievous.

They spent a few bob in the summer window. £7m went on Burnley striker Steven Fletcher. They also brought in Belgian defender Jelle “Jean-Claude” Van Damme from Anderlecht. Van Damme spent two years on Southampton's books between 2004-06 but made only six appearances in what was generally described as an “unhappy” spell on the South coast. He's recently gone into print claiming that he is homesick for Belgium - which makes you wonder exactly how bad Wolverhampton must be. His mood won't have been improved by being left on the bench, most recently in the 2-0 defeat to Wigan. They also made a double swoop on Hull from where Steves Hunt and Mouyokolo were acquired. Hunt has yet to feature in the starting line-up this season having broken a toe (or metatarsal as we are obliged to say these days) playing for Hull at the Boleyn last season. Hunt played in a reserve match in midweek and is likely to feature at some stage in the proceedings this weekend. A nasty little player, it was he who was responsible for the fact that Chelsea's Petr Cech now turns up for every match dressed as Biggles. His presence will at least give visiting supporters a pantomime villain to boo.

The summer also brought back Chelsea's Michael Mancienne for his third loan spell at the club. Mancienne has made his name as a centre back, though McCarthy has played him in midfield in recent weeks. This has left them with a centre back pairing of Berra and Craddock, Mouyokolo having spent much of the time since his signing on the treatment bench. Another definite non-starter will be Algerian midfielder Adlene Guedioura. Guediora spent last season on loan from Charleroi before signing a permanent deal. However a broken leg sustained in the defeat by Villa will preclude his involvement this weekend.

Up front they have been pairing Fletcher and Irish international Kevin Doyle as their first choice partnership. Doyle pulled out of the Republic's 1-1 draw with Slovakia in the midweek Euro qualifiers with an injury described as an “irritation” to the knee, something that doesn't sound too serious and local reports suggest that they are optimistic as to his availability this weekend. The alternative would be Sylvan Ebanks-Blake. Ebanks-Blake twice topped the Championship goalscoring tables but has arguably found the leap to Premiership a bridge too far, scoring only twice in their first season after promotion – one of those a penalty. However, he has matched that tally already in his four matches this season.

And so to us. Team news is that Der Hammer is now going to be sidelined until the new year, in a continuance of the curse of the new signing that dates back to the days of Richard Hall and Simon Webster. Hitz joins Behrami, Hines and Collison as the principal long-term residents of the treatment room. On international duty, Green managed to avoid suffering anything more serious on the injury front than the odd bench splinter. I would therefore expect to see a line-up not too dissimilar to those that faced Spurs and Fulham, the one major question being whether Kieron Dyer has stopped throwing up yet. Barrera would normally be expected to get the nod in the absence of Dyer. However, Barrera is likely to be a bit knackered having played in Mexico's 2-2 draw at home to Venezuela. Barera played the full 90 and will also have the effects of the flight back to contend with. I'd therefore expect Dyer to start if he can keep his pre-match pasta down. Like Barrera, Jonathon Spector will also have a transatlantic flight to recover from – those racing car seats look comfy so, if he makes the squad, he can probably catch up on his sleep during the match. Not sure where Ilunga has been of late but Gabbidon has looked ok at left back so I'd expect that the best Cheri can expect is a view from the dugout.

Well we're bottom at the moment despite doing something against Fulham that has been all too rare an occurrence in recent years, namely grinding out a draw. The international break came at the wrong time for us really given that things had been improving in the weeks prior to the Euro qualifiers. This included a notable improvement to results on the road with a deserved point coming from the always difficult Britannia Stadium, and an equally deserved win in the League Cup over Sunderland up on Wearside. To say we're overdue an away win in the league is an understatement akin to suggesting that Dawn French ought to cut back on the odd cake here and there. Football has a habit of throwing up (sorry Kieron) little coincidences from time to time so, as a prediction, I'll go for a win in this one – let's say 2-1 to get us off the bottom as we continue on the slow route to mid-table respectability.

Enjoy the game!

Last season: Won 2-0 – goals from Noble and Upson gave us a fairly comfortable three points. That was in August 2009. We're still waiting for another away win.

Referee: Mark Clattenburg – second time we've had him this season – he did the defeat at Old Trafford back in August. Erratic at best, it'll be interesting to see if all the brouhaha about Wolves has had any effect.

Danger Man: Kevin Doyle – if fit, he is probably the pick of their strikers. Often used as a lone striker last season, a role in which he turned out a number of impressive performances. In midfield Matt Jarvis, who made his Wolves debut in the corresponding fixture last season, has a bit of pace and is capable of causing problems.

Daft fact of the day: Wolverhampton is over 60 miles from the coast. Despite this, every time the big prize on Bullseye was a speedboat, it was usually won by someone from Wolverhampton. Who probably lived in a tower block.

Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, nor should be attributed to, KUMB.com.

Your Comments

by Jed (WWFC)
09:18PM 14th Oct 2010
''I'm a Wolves fan but can't help thinking that this should be an easy win for you guys. We are appalling at the moment, lacking in goals and weak in defence - enjoy the trip, you will be going home happy!''

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