Wednesday night’s goalless draw with Chelsea, a first Premier League clean sheet since October and Neto hitting the crossbar were just some of the topics discussed on the latest episode of Wolves’ Matchday Live Extra show.
Joining Mikey Burrows was regular co-commentator and former-Wolves full-back Andy Thompson, as well as pundits in the form of ex-old gold players Carl Ikeme and Sam Ricketts, who analysed Wolves’ second ever Premier League point at Stamford Bridge.
Also joining the panel were special guests including former Chelsea striker Jason Cundy and Wolves defender Christophe Berra as the team discussed the job new boss Thomas Tuchel has at the Blues as well as a debut from new signing Willian Jose.
On being stronger without possession
Ricketts said: “Thommo had a great stat in commentary that when of the 14 times we’ve had more possession than the opposition, we’ve won only one, so we’re clearly better without possession.
“Defensively we’ve been really good and it’s just that transition because at the start we kept passing backwards rather than forwards, but we just needed to try and get some quality to the forward players.”
Ikeme added: “It’s as expected really. It’s difficult to say it was a good performance, but it’s definitely not a bad one. It’s not one to say, ‘Look how good we’ve been and how much we’ve been on the front foot.’ But as football people, it was a good, disciplined and solid defensive performance.”
On a first Premier League clean sheet in 12
Ikeme said: “We’ve done a number, so to say, on Chelsea. They were solid and were definitely more concerned about defending that attacking, but we’re trying to get back to basics; trying to keep a clean sheet, be solid and build off that. I feel like you can build off, especially with the amount of goals we’ve been conceding at times, it’s hard to base off that and Nuno’s gone back to what he knows works well for us.
“He did try to change the system and the way we play this season to give us more possession, but it’s not been as affective, and it’s about results at times and Wolves came here to get a result and I’m sure Nuno and the team will be happy with that and the clean sheet.”
Thompson added: “Nuno built this side over keeping clean sheets and being able to counter-attack against teams, and we saw that again when Neto nearly pinched the goal at the end. But if you’re keeping clean sheets, it’s always going to give you a chance to win the game, especially with the quality we’ve got going forward.”
Neto goes so close 😫 pic.twitter.com/8szbTz1z0e— Wolves (@Wolves) January 27, 2021
On coming close to taking the three points
Ricketts said: “I was really encouraged by it. We were resolute, hard to play against and restricted Chelsea to very little, and then we always had the ability to catch them on the break. We just lacked that final ball, final pass or final shot in Neto’s case, and if they’d have done that, they’d have gone home with all three points.”
Ikeme added: “It looked like the opportunity was lost for a second, but it came back to Neto and as the keeper was on him very quickly, that’s why he went for the scoop in the end, but unfortunately it didn’t drop quickly enough.
“Could he have slipped it through his legs? Possibly, But when it’s slowed down in the replay you think he has the time to do that, but the keeper was on top of him pretty quickly, so I believe that’s why he went for the scoop, and although we had so little possession, we had the better chances in the game to win it.”
On a debut for Willian Jose
Thompson said: “He’s a presence up there. We saw throughout the game that when we needed to get the ball forward, we had no height up front, so had to pick out a pass. With Jimenez, he gives us a bit of an outlet and we can try and get the second ball as well.
“Willian’s come on and we start to look at hitting that ball up to him. He got hold of a few of them, was a nuisance up there with his presence and it doesn’t allow them to have free headers. Silva is still a young lad and will learn off him and learn off Jimenez when he’s back.”
Ikeme added: “What we haven’t mentioned is his block at the end, which was as important as any other moment in the game. He looked good, and as soon as you have a real number nine, you can see how differently the defenders react because their two centre-halves knew they were going to have to mark him.”
On having strength off the bench
Ricketts said: “It’s something we haven’t seen for a little while; being able to make those changes from off the bench
“We’ll keep it tight, try and catch Chelsea on the counter-attack with Neto and Adama, and Podence playing in that false nine, and then when 60/70 minutes arrives, Nuno now has options from the bench.”
Ikeme added: “We have Neves and Dendoncker to start and although we have Moutinho, I don’t think he can be relied on to do it all the time. He’s very experienced and has great control with the ball, but especially in a game like Chelsea where you’re going to have to have legs in your team, they’ve got legs, youth and pace throughout the squad.”
On a change for manager for Chelsea
Cundy said: “It works for us. We’re one of the most functional dysfunctional clubs that there is. Other clubs tend to go through what they call a project, and while things are going very well, the project fits.
“We don’t know what this squad can reach, because I’ve not seen Havertz put in a performance that will say he’s worth £75 million, I’ve not seen a performance from Werner that says he’s worth £50 million. Ziyech comes with a big reputation, played Champions League football with Ajax and whenever I saw him there, he was an absolute baller, but I haven’t seen that at Chelsea yet.
“Tuchel’s job is to win the Premier League. No finishing second, third, fourth – it’s to win the Premier League. But it’s going to be very hard to get to the summit this season.”
To rewatch the latest Matchday Live Extra show from Wednesday, click here.