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Predictions: Sky is the limit for Wolves, assuming the sky is falling. August 20, 2010

Posted by Alex Tomchak Scott in English soccer.
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Predictions record so far: 5-5

If I’m a fan of any English club, it’s Wolves, which is why tomorrow’s fixture with Everton is so depressing. I feel this could really be Wolves’ year. The club’s managed by Mick McCarthy, a misunderstood, excellent manager, who appears to have bought very well in the transfer window. Steven Fletcher surprised me quite a bit in his debut with his technical assurance and predatory qualities. People doubted him, myself included, at the start of the season (and it’s early to be making pronouncements) but maybe allied to more productive wingers than Burnley’s, he can up his goalscoring tally, especially with a partner of Kevin Doyle’s energy. And anyone, including probably Jelle van Damme himself, would have been surprised by how well the Belgian played last week. Wolves was already a solid team, but it has improved in a weakening division.

That said, Wolves probably still won’t beat Everton. And even if there is an away win in tomorrow’s clash, Wolves probably can’t aspire to be Everton, let alone someone higher up the table. I was struck when Everton beat Manchester United last year by how good it must feel to be an Everton fan. Your club is never going to win the title, so you don’t have to view every game as a chance to blow it. You’re not really good enough to expect to beat Manchester United, but you are good enough to do it with style if it does happen. It’s far more satisfying to watch your team beat the odds to outplay a giant than to watch them scrape a win, and that’s the kind of peak Everton fans get.

Not really so much for Wolves, which will never be able to put together as many truly quality players as Everton will run out against them tomorrow. The best Wolves can hope for is to be Birmingham City from last season and put together a run of results that propels the club up the table.

That said, it could be the year that happens. Everton 2-1 Wolves.

My equations system felt a bit forced last week, so I’ve decided to eschew it.

  • Chelsea, on their form, will probably expect to beat up on Wigan, on their form. Chelsea 4-0 Wigan.
  • How well Arsenal maintains cohesion without Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri remains to be seen. There’s no telling how well Tomas Rosicky, Jack Wilshere, Abou Diaby or Robin van Persie will handle the number 10’s role, but they should still have enough to find the gaps left by a pretty offense-minded Blackpool. Arsenal 1-0 Blackpool.
  • There’s really nobody at Blackburn to take David Dunn’s place in midfield, so this one is a question of how well Sam Allardyce can shoehorn someone into the role (I.e. Morten Gamst Pedersen) or readjust his formation (i.e. bringing in Mame Diouf). Probably, though, I think he’s tactically cute enough to figure out a way to deal with predictable Birmingham at least enough to get a draw. Birmingham 0-0 Blackburn.
  • Mark Hughes beat Manchester United? I think not. Fulham’s kind of a Man U banana skin, but Hughes strikes me as caught between keeping Hodgson’s formula and imposing his own. Just think, too, of what a pacy striker such as Javier Hernandez might do against a slow pair of center backs like Brede Hangeland and Aaron Hughes, or what Paul Scholes might if they drop deep to protect themselves. Fulham 0-2 Man Utd.
  • All I can say about Manchester City vs. Liverpool is that Mario Balotelli is a force of nature. Man City 2-0 Liverpool.
  • Stoke’s aerial game is something with which Tom Huddlestone, Michael Dawson and Sebastien Bassong will probably feel extremely comfortable. It will be a good confidence boost after, you know … On the other hand, Spurs will be heavily reliant on crosses in to Peter Crouch or Roman Pavlyuchenko, since the Londoners’ cleverest passers, Luka Modric and Giovani dos Santos, are out. Stoke 0-0 Spurs.
  • Sunderland is a team everyone loves, and that’s because they’re becomingly fragile. West Brom also looked fragile against Chelsea, so fragile its difficult to envision the Baggies beating anyone. But you could see it. On the other hand, any of West Brom’s center backs probably would struggle to keep up with Frazier Campbell. West Brom 1-2 Sunderland.
  • Bolton plays a Diego-Maradona’s-Argentina-esque 4-4-2, which is probably just the thing for West Ham’s packed midfield. West Ham 2-0 Bolton.
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