Shropshire Star

Liam Keen comment: Wolves must improve in both boxes

Wolves’ defeat to Leeds leaves them with 10 huge games this season.

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Sitting 13th in the table, but having played a game more than most teams around them and with a three-point gap to the relegation zone, Wolves are still in trouble.

The next 10 games will be crucial in determining Wolves’ fate with their Premier League status at stake.

Bother in both boxes

Several factors contributed to that extremely disappointing result on Saturday, but none more so than Wolves’ inability to take chances and defend avoidable goals – they have to be better in both boxes.

All four goals were avoidable, and in particular the second and third were very poor from a Wolves point of view.

You cannot allow Luke Ayling to ghost towards the back post for his easy header, while the third courtesy of Rasmus Kristensen, came directly from Jonny Castro Otto’s error.

The defending was criminal on Saturday and was easily the biggest concern. Craig Dawson had a poor first half by his standards, but you can see how Wolves struggled when he came off at half-time.

In the other direction, Wolves dominated large parts of the game but hardly came close to scoring a well-worked goal.

Every big chance they had went begging. Every good position they got into was wasted, and the two goals they did score were fortunate. Jonny’s strike was a freak incident, while Matheus Cunha’s took a big deflection.

During that spell in the first half where Wolves were all over Leeds, and again in the second half when Adama Traore was causing havoc, Wolves had to take advantage – but they fell short.

Starting XI decisions

Julen Lopetegui is causing some controversy among Wolves supporters with his tinkering of the starting XI.

It is true that the head coach takes each game as it comes and will make tactical changes to suit his game plan, but to be balanced, he has also missed some key players. Cunha is still managing his ankle injury and has not been risked from the start of late, while Pablo Sarabia has only just come back from his small knock.

Daniel Podence and Pedro Neto have both been given opportunities recently, and neither have taken them. As a result, Lopetegui is in a difficult position where he is unable to select his desired starting XI, while those coming in are flattering to deceive.

Officiating mistakes

Once again, Wolves were on the wrong end of refereeing decisions.

It is frustrating, of course, and is the result of a lack of quality among officials in the English game.

Putting the penalty shout and fourth goal controversy aside, and to be balanced, how has Michael Salisbury stood just yards away from Jonny’s tackle and awarded him a yellow card, before VAR intervened to rightly give him a red card. It was a clear sending off, but the referee missed it.

The examples are endless, both on Saturday and in recent weeks, but Wolves cannot be branded ‘the unlucky team’. As frustrating as referee and VAR incompetence is, Wolves must take the result out of their hands and create their own luck.

It comes back, again, to the first point. Defend properly and take your chances, and those wrong decisions do not have an impact.