Wolves seven game unbeaten run came to an end against Watford at Molineux. Two goals from Capoue and Pereyra in under a minute were enough for Watford to take home all three points.
Nuno named the same starting line-up for the ninth game in a row, a record in the Premier League, and were unbeaten in seven matches coming into this game against the Hornets. Watford, despite a good start to the season, had not won in four games, and were without their talisman Troy Deeney who was ruled out with a minor hamstring injury.
Watford named Andre Gray on their bench, a former Wolves youth team player, and Wolves made one change to their bench with Ruben Vinagre coming in for Morgan Gibbs-White.
The game started evenly with neither side getting a real grip of the game, but Wolves were sluggish, and lethargic in possession which only got worse as the half progressed. This seemed like a game that Wolves would be expected to win looking at the form guide, but this game proves the old cliche that there are no easy games in the Premier League. In the first half Wolves lacked intensity, moved the ball too slowly and were second best in the midfield.
In the twenty minute however the match came to life, particularly from a Watford point of view, when Capoue struck a laser wonder-strike into the bottom right-hand corner from 25 yards out to give Watford the lead. A first time shot went straight through the legs of Connor Coady, rooting Patrício to the spot, who couldn’t react quick enough even to move as the strike came through several bodies.
Matters were made worse when Watford doubled their lead only 58 seconds later. Following the restart Watford were able to steal the ball from Wolves and move forward with pace and one touch passing.
This culminated with Roberto Pereyra taking the ball in his stride, ghosting into the Wolves box and exquisitely finishing with the outside of his left foot past Patrício in goal. Watford had two chances in the first half and they clinically finished both. Wolves players and fans were left shell shocked and it took until half time for the players to compose themselves in possession.
Wolves have only conceded one goal in five premier league matches but conceded two in less than a minute in uncharacteristic style. It has become a cliche to say but Wolves success under Nuno have been built on an outstanding defensive record and a high degree of focus on defensive positioning, making this match a real rarity.
The second half Wolves increased their intensity and took the game to Watford. Vinagre replaced Johnny at left wing back, at half time and offered spark, and pace down the left flank.
Despite Wolves upping their tempo in the second half Watford had their chances to increase their lead, especially on the counter. Most notably when it took a Ruben Neves last ditch tackle to prevent Dacouré having a clean shot on goal, after Moutinho was disposed by Deulofeu on the half way line.
Dacouré was one of the best players on the pitch for Watford and controlled the midfield, not allowing Neves or Moutinho any time or space on the ball to play their normal passing game. Watford successfully nullified two of Wolves’ biggest attacking threats in their wings backs and central midfield.
The referee did cut a pedantic figure in the middle of the pitch for much of the game, awarding foul after foul but ultimately the referee’s performance didn’t impact the overall result of the game.
Nuno introduced Cavaleiro and Traoré in the 60th and 72nd minute respectively but neither were able to replicate their super-sub performances of the last couple of matches. Cavaleiro had a great chance to grab a goal back for Wolves when two substitutes combined, Vinagre’s cross was right on the money but Cavaleiro couldn’t keep his header down, and it flashed over the bar.
Costa hand a chance late on in the game following a long raking pass from Moutinho to Jota who was able to get in behind the Watford defence. A lofted cross was tapped back to Costa from Cavaleiro but all he could do was hit a rising shot over the bar. At that point in the game it felt like it was going to be one of those days for Wolves.
Wolves unbeaten run was always going to end. Playing the same eleven so consistently is a great positive but it also can lead to fatigue both mentally and physically especially those players who represented their countries in the international break.
Having said that, this is not the time for wholesale changes ahead of their trip to Brighton next week, but possibly a refresh of the starting eleven. Cavaleiro must be in a good position to take a place in the starting line up ahead of Jota who looks extremely low on confidence.
Despite the loss Wolves have amassed more points than any other promoted team for a decade, which has put Wolves in a great league position. Nuno will be expecting a much improved (especially first half) performance against a very resilient Brighton side next Saturday.