Cardiff and Wolves kicked off Gameweek 14 with a match that took a bit of time to get going – but definitely had a big impact on Fantasy Premier League.
There was renewed hope in some Wolves options despite the reigning Championship winners conceding once again.
We’ve got all the talking points in this latest Scout Notes article.
Cardiff 2-1 Wolves
Goals: Matt Doherty (£4.9m) | Aron Gunnarsson (£4.5m), Junior Hoilett (£5.0m)
Assists: Raúl Jiménez (£5.9m)
Matt Doherty (£4.9m) instantly rewarded those who showed faith in him after a disappointing return in Gameweek 13 by scoring seven points in Gameweek 14. Following the 2-0 defeat to Huddersfield Town, Wolves took the lead at Cardiff with their right-back lashing in from a corner. It was an attacking return that had been brewing for some time. Ahead of Friday night’s match, Doherty was in the top three for shots among defenders and he finally delivered his first goal since Gameweek 8.
There was also more joy for owners of Raúl Jiménez (£5.9m) who registered his fourth goal involvement in as many matches. It was his header on goal that was saved by Neil Etheridge (£4.5m) before falling at the feet of Doherty. Of those who started the game, Jiménez had the best minutes per chance ratio, which bodes well for his continued use to Fantasy managers.
There were interesting changes made by both managers for the match. Wolves manager Nuno Espirito Santo left Ryan Bennett (£4.2m) on the bench for the first time this season, meaning a first start of the campaign for versatile Moroccan international Romain Saïss (£4.2m).
Adama Traore (£5.3m) got just his second league start of the campaign but again failed to have the desired effect on proceedings. His exploits down the right-hand side happened at a frightening pace but the ball was not always under his control during his mazy runs. In fact, in the first half especially, Bamba largely had him under control. There is every chance he could return to the bench in time for Gameweek 15.
There were concerns that Traore’s role in the team would temper Doherty’s runs forward, but they were dispelled very soon. He was a regular attacking outlet for Wolves in the opening 45 minutes and should continue to offer goal threat throughout the season.
However, Wolves didn’t actually offer as much threat as they would have liked, especially in open play. The goal they scored from a set-piece proving their best chance of the first half.
“We definitely need to control and manage the game better. I know it’s hard, they started putting these long balls in which causes you many troubles and we didn’t do enough to hold on to the advantage.” – Nuno Espirito Santo
That may have been because they had their 3-4-3 formation matched up by Cardiff City’s Neil Warnock. Sean Morrison (£4.7m), Sol Bamba (£4.5m) and Bruno Ecuele Manga (£4.5m) made up the back three with Junior Hoilett (£5.0m) and Harry Arter (£4.9m) as the left and right wing-backs respectively according to the club’s Twitter account. The Canadian was the much more advanced of the two wider players, understandable given his usual position as an attacking midfielder. Arter also often drifted back into the middle of the pitch. Josh Murphy (£4.8m) and Victor Camarasa (£4.5m) were the wide forwards either side of Callum Paterson (£5.2m). Camarasa did drift into wing-back duty on several occasions, Warnock’s hand apparently forced with Greg Cunningham (£4.2m) and Joe Bennett (£4.5m) having injury trouble in the week.
“Are you joking? I couldn’t sleep last night! Junior Hoilett and Victor Camarasa wing backs? My god! We lost Greg Cunningham and Jazz Richards who played wing-back last year for us. Joe Bennett didn’t train at all this week until yesterday (Thursday). I didn’t really want to risk them all being out with hamstrings. Junior has always done a good job against Doherty. Victor, I wasn’t too sure about Victor but hey ho, we hadn’t got much more, really. And I thought Harry (Arter) and Joe (Ralls) could upset the applecart in there (midfield) and we got better up front as the game went on.” – Neil Warnock
Ultimately, Nuno felt that Cardiff sussed out Wolves’ formation and that was the key to the Bluebirds success.
“Some teams adapt to our formation, and they had success. It doesn’t mean we were not prepared. I think that we were prepared. We were in control, but it was not enough. It was not enough.” – Nuno Espirito Santo
In truth, neither side offered a great deal in the match with some suggesting it had the feel of a Championship game disguised as a Premier League meeting. In keeping with that theme, both sides only regularly threatened from set pieces, but that shouldn’t be too much of a surprise. Interestingly, when we were assessing the individual weaknesses of each Premier League ahead of Gameweek 13, both Cardiff and Wolves were sides most vulnerable to set pieces compared to the left, right or centre in open play.
Doherty’s first-half goal was the seventh that Cardiff conceded from set-pieces this season; no team has conceded more in 2018/19. Meanwhile, the Bluebirds wreaked havoc with a 36th-minute corner where Wolves panicked to get it clear and managed only as far as Arter. His rocket of a shot cannoned back off the post and he was unfortunate not to see it hit the back of the net.
Cardiff slowly piled on the pressure in the second-half an, in the end, broke through from a dead ball situation. Rui Patrício (£4.6m) was at fault for the goal in trying to come from the ball but left himself exposed. Arter’s ball back into the box was headed across goal by Morrison, no players had more touches in that area of the match than him, and Aron Gunnarsson (£4.5m) hooked it over the line. Nuno laid no blame at Patrício’s door though.
“I was a goalkeeper myself and if somebody touches you it’s very hard to continue with your actions and I think maybe it could have been a foul. Rui was clearly pushed in his area of action.” – Nuno Espirito Santo
That’s now six consecutive Gameweeks without a clean sheet for Wolves. The fact that Doherty got some attacking returns should ease managers’ patience with him but the likes of Patrício or Willy Boly (£4.6m) may be closer to the chopping block. There wasn’t a great deal that the goalkeeper could have done to stop Hoilett’s hugely impressive winning goal though, a curled shot from the edge of the box straight out of the Rúben Neves (£5.0m) playbook.
“Junior, he always used to cut inside. Vincent will be delighted. I spoke to Vincent before the game and said ‘I’m playing Junior left wing back and he’s going to come in and shoot from there all the time’ because we don’t shoot enough.” – Neil Warnock
But either way, conceding four times against supposedly goal-shy Huddersfield and Cardiff is not particularly good reading and may force Fantasy managers to look elsewhere. According to the local press, such results seem to have caused Wolves fans to demand a change of system from Nuno, so it’s worth keeping an eye out for that too.
There will be at least one enforced change for Gameweek 15 as Wolves will be without key central midfielder Neves. He picked up his fifth yellow card of the campaign on Friday night and will now serve a one-match suspension.
Cardiff City XI (3-4-3): Etheridge; Bamba, Morrison, Manga; Hoilett, Ralls, Gunnarsson, Arter (Harris 76′); Murphy (Reid 66′), Paterson, Camarasa.
Wolves XI (3-4-3): Patrício; Boly, Coady, Saïss; Vinagre (Cavaleiro 82′), Moutinho, Neves, Doherty; Costa (Jota 66′), Jiménez, Traore (Gibbs-White 73′).
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