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Wolves 0-0 Burnley

By Tom Bason
November 7 2015

After four defeats in five, today saw a tough game with the Wolves side of 2009 Burnley finish 0-0, with neither side really impressing. With chances at a premium, Andre Gray and Benik Afobe had the best opportunities, but both fluffed their lines.

- The midfield merry-go-round continued, as Kenny Jackett again shuffled his pack, still searching for a combination that works. This time, Conor Coady was left out as Jack Price's beard was restored to the first eleven. The wingers who were drawn at random at 1pm today were Sheyi Ojo and James Henry, despite Nathan Byrne putting in a man of the match performance just seven days ago against Birmingham. Elsewhere, obviously David Edwards kept his place in midfield while the back five at least contribute some consistency in selection this season.

- Saying that, the selection of Emiliano Martínez may have been slightly contentious, given that he was quite clearly injured. A noticeable tactic we've used this season is to use his much improved kicking to release Byrne on the counter attack. But the first time he got the ball today, he threw it out; not a flat throw directly to a player, but a high looping throw to the half way line. Then, after 25 minutes, Phil Hayward, the Head of the Medical Department, walked around to behind Martinez’s goal to have a word with the goalkeeper. On the couple of times he was asked to kick the ball long, he was visibly pained, holding his right thigh as he limped around his goal area. It was very noticeable that Carl Ikeme had quite a strenuous warmup at half time. But, if Martínez wasn't fully fit before kick off, I think this says a lot about where he and Carl Ikeme are respectively in Kenny Jackett's view.

- The first half way poor, to the extent that I made precisely two notes in the opening 45 minutes. While we had the extra man in midfield, we never really used it properly, and David Jones and Joey Barton were able to match up with us. Our midfield was solidified with the partnership of Jack Price and Kevin McDonald being reinstated, but aside from a couple of driving McDonald runs, never really looked like to create anything. I'd have liked to have seen Conor Coady playing instead of Edwards, and allowing McDonald a little more freedom to get further forward.

- Again, Benik Afobe looked horribly isolated upfront, with both teams looking to find their forwards making runs down the channels. I think that Andre Gray is far more suited to this than Afobe, who needs to be involved in the game rather than playing on the shoulder of the last defender. The only time it was anything like successful was when Danny Batth sent a ball down the right hand channel, which was slightly too far ahead of Afobe, forcing him to shoot from a very narrow angle, which Tom Heaton saved. Afobe went close in the second half as well, firing a left footed shot wide when he probably should have scored. While Afobe's technical ability is there for all to see, I do worry about his finishing; I'm expecting it to be about 5 when Football Manager is released next week. Certainly, if I was the manager of a struggling Premier League team, I don't think I'd gamble on him scoring the goals to keep us up.

- It's weird the things that can spark a game into life. Today, it was a substitution, and I'm not sure the introduction of a goalkeeper would ever have seen a reaction like today's. 10 minutes into the second half, Martínez was substituted, with Carl Ikeme introduced to rapturous applause. This seemed to spark the crowd into life, which then in turn lifted the team, and from then on we were the better side. Nothing changed tactically, but all of a sudden the players were slightly quicker in everything they did, and the tempo was raised. I should say, that this is not a reflection on Martínez's performance, either today or in recent weeks. As I said last week, I feel that Martínez has generally justified his place in goal, and it'll be very interesting to see who emerges after the international break as first choice.

- I said last week that we have three different corners, and today we were very much focused on the short corner, much to the consternation of the fans. I can understand a quick short corner before the defence has got itself back into position, but we were wholly reliant on it today. This is perhaps slightly more frustrating as Williamson looked more threatening in the penalty area against Birmingham than Danny Batth has done yet in his Wolves career.

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Wolves 0-0 Burnley
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07/11/2015 19:26
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