The champions were outfought, outworked and outmuscled at Molineux on Wednesday night and Wolves climbed out of the bottom three for the first time since October. After the game Drogba and Terry both complimented Mick McCarthy and said his team deserved to win.
Not only does that give us 21 points from 21 games – well on target for survival – but it also has to bring great confidence going in to a difficult series of fixtures.
The Chelsea result could be the most important single game in our recent history if it gives us the momentum we need to stay up. It was certainly the most impressive result Molineux has seen since the victory over Manchester United in our first premier League campaign all of those years ago.
We need to keep our feet on the ground though because the forthcoming fixture list reads like this: Man City (A), Liverpool (H), Bolton (A), MUFC (H), Arsenal (A). After Wednesday night, there’s no need to fear anybody. But what it showed is that how hard you have to fight to beat the best teams, even when they’re off their game.
What Wolves have got to do now is record back-to-back wins, or at least consecutive non-losses. If we had beaten West Ham last weekend, what a strong position we would have been in now. I can’t have a go at Wolves for that defeat though because we played well. It was a game that could have got either way and a draw would have been a fair result.
Going in to these fixtures against the other big guns now, I think Mick has learned an important lesson about playing them - attack them and we’re good enough to break them down. It’s a risky strategy because you have to put great faith in your defence and ask your whole team, but especially the midfielders, to get up and down the pitch for 90 minutes plus.
But I think the boss looked at the way Blackpool have taken on teams this season, and to some extent West Brom too, and realized that good attack is also a form of defence. That’s why even with 15 minutes to go last night he replaced two forwards with two forwards and stuck to 4-4-2. Only for the dying minutes of the game did he try to defend the lead rather than kill the game with another goal.
Happily, he has the confidence to be able to do that now because Berra and Stearman suddenly look like a good defensive partnership. They have ironed out their mistakes and work together really well now attacking everything in the air and sticking to the players they are marking like glue. Berra especially was outstanding last night, outmuscling Drogba and intercepting countless balls from the wide positions.
Zubar and Elokobi also have to be mentioned for their rampages forward and tireless work in getting back in to defence. Talking of tireless work, Hunt and Doyle ran and ran and ran. They never let their opponents win an easy header or settle on the ball.
Here’s an interesting fact – Wolves now have more points, have scored more goals and conceded less than at this point last year. It shows how competitive the league is this year, but also that despite a perceived poor start to the campaign, we’re doing okay. Keep performing like we did last night and it will end up as a great season.