Premier League Preview Number 16: Wolverhampton Wanderers

07 August 2009

Wolverhampton Wanderers

Biggest Ins: Marcus Hahnemann, even in reserve, is an experienced goal keeper who will help the young crop Mick McCarthy has. Kevin Doyle is a good depth purchase up top while Greg Halford is a good right sided box to box midfielder.

Biggest Outs: No one major left Wolves this summer, Lewis Gobern and Liam Hughes the only two of note.

Easiest Month: September. Wolves go away to Blackburn and Sunderland between a home tie against Fulham. It’s possible Wolves will be able to pick up seven points out of this month, giving them a good early bumper against the relegation zone.

Toughest Month: November. Wolves host Arsenal before a trip to Stamford Bridge. The month ends with a midlands derby match at home against Birmingham City. If one point is gained, it will be considered a success for Mick McCarthy.

Five Questions About Wolverhampton Wanderers This Season

1) Has McCarthy recovered from his last time in the Premier League with Sunderland? When he was sacked after only 27 games, he had a whopping ten points. Everyone knows what happens with that points per game ratio. He has done well to get Wolves to this point, however if he fails like before, he will become a tainted manager.
2) Who will be the day in and day out starter on the left side of midfield? While I don’t have every lineup at my disposal; in the 22 lineups I do have of Wolves last season, they used eight different left midfielders. If Premier League clubs can exploit any weakness, they will take advantage of it. For now, it’s the left side of midfield.
3) Has Mick McCarthy picked a true number one in goal? Wayne Hennessey and Carl Ikeme split plenty of time last season. Now with Hahnemann in the mix, based on last year’s form, we could see three different starting keepers rotated. If I had to guess, Hennessey will start in goal but will be on a short leash. Hahnemann has regained the form he had during his first season in the Premier League with Reading, so using him shouldn’t be quickly discredited.
4) Can the forwards on this squad get goals in the Premier League? Sylvan Ebanks-Blake, Chris Iwelumo, and Kevin Doyle all proved they could score in the Championship. Transitioning that to the top flight will prove a difficult order.
5) Will the defense hold? Wolves gave up fifty-two goals last season in winning the league. However, they still managed fourteen shutouts. Giving up goals in bunches in the top flight will not work. If the defense can steady the ship, they will be just fine.

My Ultimate Reality: Of all the promoted sides, Wolverhampton Wanderers have the most balanced schedule. Only one major peak with a couple of valleys will help prevent things from spiraling out of control. If the forward line can score like they did in the Championship, they will have no problem staying up. However, that just won’t be the case. With the experience of Hahnemann helping in goal, and keeping the defense in line, I think this team will stay up. Yes, it won’t be an easy ride. But I see them heading into the final few games of the season with a safe enough point total that while close to the relegation zone, will never be a threat to go down.

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Johnathan Starling, the self proclaimed 'most brutally honest man on the net, dishes out his own unique brand of opinions, and analysis on the Premier League, Bundesliga, and all things US Soccer.

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