Wolverhampton Wanderers secured their first win of 2019/20 as they beat bottom-of-the-table Watford at Molineux.
We look back at the key Fantasy talking points from Saturday’s game in the Scout Notes article below.
Wolverhampton Wanderers 2-0 Watford
- Goals: Matt Doherty (£6.0m), Daryl Janmaat (£4.3m) own-goal
- Assists: Pedro Neto (£5.0m), Morgan Gibbs-White (£4.8m)
- Bonus: Doherty x3, Rui Patricio (£5.0m) x2, Conor Coady (£5.0m), Willy Boly (£5.0m) x1
After watching his side beat fellow Premier League strugglers Watford on Saturday, Nuno Espirito Santo provided us with an update on Diogo Jota‘s (£6.2m) fitness.
The mid-price FPL forward was nowhere to be seen in the hosts’ matchday squad and Santo, who hinted at “small injuries” in his pre-match presser on Friday, confirmed his absence was enforced.
Diogo had a knock before the game at Crystal Palace, he played the game, but wasn’t totally well so we decided to not play him and see if it’s evolved on Thursday [for the Europa League].
After their early-season struggles, we highlighted the improvement that Wolves had made in their last-gasp draw with Palace last weekend.
While Saturday’s win over Watford was far from perfect – the Hornets enjoyed over 60% of possession and twice as many chances – there were further positives to take.
Defensively, Wolves have looked more secure in their last two games.
It is perhaps no coincidence that, in the five matches with Matt Doherty (£6.0m) and Jonny (£5.4m) both in the starting XI at wing-back, Wolves have shipped only three goals.
With that balance disrupted in the other two matches in question, Santo’s troops have conceded on eight occasions.
It is not quite as simplistic as that, of course, and teams such as Palace and Watford offer greater chances of clean sheets than Chelsea do.
However, striking a balance between defensive nous and attacking flair has posed a dilemma this season, particularly given the fine form of Adama Traore (£5.0m).
The budget FPL midfielder has been electric down the right flank on the domestic front and in Europe but isn’t quite as reliable from a defensive perspective, so choosing between him and Doherty for the right wing-back role in a 3-5-2 has posed Santo problems.
The switch to a 3-4-3 has given the Wolves boss the chance to field both, however, and it is no surprise that the West Midlands club have looked more secure down that flank in Gameweeks 6 and 7.
Indeed, both of Saturday’s goals owed heavily to Doherty’s underlapping runs – the Ireland international tapping in Pedro Neto‘s (£5.0m) low cross to give his side the lead before providing the delivery that Morgan Gibbs-White (£4.8m) headed in via a sizeable deflection off Daryl Janmaat (£4.3m).
It is too early to say whether Doherty (who now looks back to full fitness after his struggles over the last six weeks) will become the threat he was last season – his goal represented his only shot and penalty box touch of the game – but the 3-4-3 set-up does offer either he or Traore the opportunity to bomb into the box while the other covers the right flank.
A settled side always helps cohesion at the back and that is something Wolves haven’t had this season, mostly due to their Europa League involvement.
Having made multiple changes in previous weeks, Santo’s only alteration from the side that drew at Palace was an enforced one: Neto in for Jota.
With Jesus Vallejo (£4.8m) struggling to get to grips with life in the Premier League and Ryan Bennett (£4.9m) having been cast aside by Santo in the last three league matches, the back three of Willy Boly (£5.0m), Conor Coady (£5.0m) and Romain Saiss (£4.4m) have looked solid in the last two Gameweeks – save for the latter’s red card at Selhurst Park.
Jonny, meanwhile, was excellent at left wing-back.
Rui Patricio (£5.1m) was forced into five stops but all of them were fairly routine, with his diving save from a Danny Welbeck (£5.9m) strike eye-catching but ultimately one that he would expect to handle.
Even Watford’s one ‘big chance’ wasn’t really a gilt-edged opportunity – Patricio smothering Tom Cleverley‘s (£4.9m) effort before the Hornets’ midfielder could get a proper shot in.
On his side’s defensive display, Santo said:
The clean sheet is the final result of something, sometimes you are not well-organised and you get a clean sheet, but today I think we were organised.
It’s something we need to improve. We had moments where we lost focus, things we cannot repeat again. Today we did it, but we know how hard it is to sustain and Thursday we go again. We want to compete, we want to play.
They [Watford] managed the ball well, they didn’t create many chances, but there was always the feeling that they were going to break us, but defensively we did very well against a very good team with very good players. Until we got the second goal, Watford were very tough.
Watford were back in a 4-2-3-1 for this encounter, with Welbeck and Ismaila Sarr (£6.3m) getting their first league starts of the season.
Welbeck carried much of Watford’s goal threat with limited service but there weren’t too many stand-out performers from a Fantasy perspective in this game, even there was a slight improvement from the 8-0 humiliation at the Etihad.
Gerard Deulofeu (£6.1m), so eye-catching in the 2-2 draw with Arsenal a fortnight ago, was hooked at half-time, with the rousing performance that Quique Sanchez Flores’ side served up against the Gunners now slipping from memory.
It is maybe no coincidence that the teams in 19th and 20th in the table are struggling for an identity under their new managers.
While Steve Bruce’s dismissive comments about tactics are a world apart from Rafael Benitez’s meticulous managerial style, Sanchez Flores seems to be struggling to meld his own pragmatic approach with getting the best from the wealth of attacking options at his disposal.
The Watford manager’s post-match remarks were hardly ringing endorsements of his ability to get across a message to his players:
Now we are looking for some kind of style, some way we’re going to play, but at the moment we’re not playing in that way. We concede very easy goals and these destroy all the plans. We are playing [catch-up] behind the score so it’s difficult for the players right now.
It’s difficult to know. In this kind of situation sometimes the players are confused. Sometimes they’ll understand very well the orders; in the second half, for example, the plan was for the striker to get down the sides because they are more faster than the central defender, but they didn’t understand it in the first half. Maybe after the first goal, they forget or they are not completely clear?
Wolves XI (3-4-3): Patricio; Boly, Coady, Saiss; Jonny, Moutinho, Dendoncker, Doherty; Neto (Gibbs-White 57′), Traore (Neves 87′), Jimenez (Cutrone 80′).
Watford XI (4-3-3): Foster; Janmaat, Dawson, Cathcart, Holebas; Capoue, Doucoure; Deulofeu (Pereyra 45′), Cleverley, Sarr (Gray 71′); Welbeck.
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