Saturday was a day of mind-boggling sta­tis­tics in the Pre­mier League, as match after heady match veered towards the remar­kable and goals swept the land like a nasty case of the clap. Forty-one were scored in total, the most ever in a single day of the league’s cur­rent format. A record seven pen­al­ties were awarded, too. And with a single win­ning goal, Wolves’ Kevin Doyle brought Man­chester United’s 29-game unbeaten run to a scree­ching halt. It was in short, the kind of after­noon most foot­ball fans dream of. 

Wolves fans will have been most con­cerned with brea­king their own run of four straight losses, some of them unfor­tu­nate (they played devi­lishly hand­some foot­ball in their 4 – 3 defeat to Man­chester City), some of them tho­roughly deserved (they were, to put it mildly, feck­less against Liver­pool in their 3 – 0 defeat). This 2 – 1 win was richly merited by the Old Gold though – they har­ried United throughout, defended uncha­rac­te­ris­ti­cally well, and in Kevin Doyle had the best for­ward on the pitch (Wayne Rooney, Dimitar Ber­batov and sub­sti­tute Javier Her­nandez included). 

A strange season

That said, it is hard to figure out just whe­ther such a resounding result will spur on Wolves to turn their season around. So far, they have already put several of the League’s big boys to the sword inclu­ding Liver­pool, Chelsea, and Man­chester City, only to then flounder against fellow min­nows. It’s been a strange season for us,” said Doyle on Saturday after sco­ring the 700th Pre­mier League goal of 2010 – 2011, and he was not wrong.
Even with the clock ticking down on this memo­r­able vic­tory and the Moli­neux rocking from the voci­fe­rous home fans, this result was in doubt. Going into the game, Wolves had con­ceded more last-minute goals (seven) than any other side in the league. Con­cen­tra­tion at the back has been abysmal at times and Ronald Zubar’s mid­week brain fart against Bolton was a case in point. His sloppy last-minute back pass at the Reebok allowed Daniel Stur­ridge to snatch a winner and all three points, when a creditable away draw was on the cards.

Here though he played his part in a stout defen­sive per­for­mance and bene­fited from the home crowd’s generous sup­port. Throughout the second half, Zubar and his fellow defen­ders proved they can retain their shape, even when forced to sit deep against pacy atta­ckers like Her­nandez and Nani. If Wolves can con­tinue to be so reso­lute at the back, they may yet dig them­selves out of their drop-zone misery hole. Goal dif­fe­rence is today kee­ping them off the very bottom and a few more clean sheets would con­so­li­date their slim advan­tage over fellow trap­door-bothe­rers West Ham. 

Goals of their own though have been in short supply for Mick McCarthy’s indefa­tig­able scrap­pers. Doyle’s winner was only his third league strike this season, des­pite his excel­lent con­tri­bu­tion overall. His industry is always impres­sive and he runs the chan­nels with zeal, hol­ding the ball up excel­lently when it is fired up to him by the Wolves’ defence. If he could just redis­cover the deadly goal-sco­ring knack he showed for Rea­ding in both the Cham­pionship and Pre­mier League, he might turn the shud­de­ring Wolves super tanker round and get it poin­ting north again.

O’Hara is a battler

On Saturday, he was sup­ported by loan signing Jamie O’Hara from an attacking mid­field berth. O’Hara hinted at a good under­stan­ding of Doyle’s game, con­sist­ently fora­ging for knock­downs from the Irish striker. If the two can click fur­ther, and capi­ta­lise on the excel­lent ser­vice from tricky left-winger Matt Jarvis, an improved record at the sharp end of the pitch might be yet be forth­co­ming. O’Hara himself is a battler, who per­formed vali­antly for Ports­mouth last season in the Pre­mier League’s grotty base­ment. His com­ba­tive atti­tude and expe­ri­ence at the bottom of the table should make him an astute addi­tion to the Wolves squad for a run in that will be fought tooth and nail.

Boss Mick McCarthy mean­while will have to pray the les­sons learned by his team at the wee­kend stay with them past Match of the Day. We keep bea­ting the bigger teams,” he said after the game. Now we have to beat the teams around us, that was my last word to the lads.” His side are pro­bably better than their posi­tion in the table, and it is to McCarthy’s credit that he has reined in the excesses that saw Wolves labelled thugs in the early season. Whe­ther McCarthy has done suf­fi­cient else to pre­serve the Mid­lands club’s place in the top flight is deba­t­able, but with their next three matches against Arsenal (psy­cho­lo­gical wrecks after far­cical New­castle implo­sion), West Brom (rud­der­less after Roberto DiMatteo sacking) and Black­pool (great fun but win­less in five), the time for a big push is now. Saturday was no full moon but needs to be trans­for­ma­tional: Bare your claws Wolves, or depart the Pre­mier League with your tails bet­ween your legs, 

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Die Titus-Fuss­bal­ling-Eng-zyklo­pädie
An dieser Stelle erklärt Titus Chalk die eng­li­sche Fuß­ball-Kultur auf Deutsch

Folge 25: Pass­ports

Nach seinem Louis Vuitton Man-Tashe, seinen Riese Köpf­hörer und seinem Haargel, ist das Pass, die not­wen­dige Acces­soire, die jede rei­senden Profi-Spieler braucht. Leider diese Woche hat Tot­ten­hams glück­lose Ledley King seins ver­gessen. Eigent­lich, konnte Der Ver­tei­diger es nicht sogar bei ihm finden und musste des­halb eine wich­tige Ope­ra­tion im Aus­land ver­passen. Pein­lich. Falls ihr es findet, sagt bitte Bescheid. Sein Pass­foto ist viel­leicht noch pein­li­cher.