Wolves Show Quality To Hand Palace Third League Defeat Of Season

Palace turned out a disappointing display in the Friday night game against a side that are clearly hoping to threaten the top six this season.


30th October 2020


Wolverhampton Wanderers 2-0 Crystal Palace


Molineux, Waterloo Road, Wolverhampton WV1 4QR


Behind closed doors


REFEREE – Martin Atkinson

ASSISTANTS – Lee Betts, James Mainwaring, John Brooks (fourth official)

VAR – Paul Tierney, Andy Halliday (assistant)


BOOKINGS – Patrick van Aanholt (45), Wilfried Zaha (62)

RED CARD – Luka Milivojevic (86)


Rayan Ait-Nouri (18), Daniel Podence (27)


Andros Townsend


It has been a very disjointed start to the new season seven games gone but even though Palace find themselves with a relatively healthy seven points, fans are quite right to ask for more. The set up for this game was all wrong from the start and encouraged a quality Wolves side onto them from the first whistle. If this is one of the most talented squad of players the club has had in years then it would be nice to see some of that talent on show doing what they can do best and that is to go toe to toe with an opposition like Wolves.


Where do we start? The two offside decisions were correct which was a shame as Palace were denied a penalty as PVA has ventured too far forward before being fouled, and arguably the best move from the visitors finished off by Batshuayi was chalked off.

The red card for Milivojevic and the foul on Zaha in the box both went to VAR, one given, the other not. Luka can rightly feel harshly done by but you have to question why he was making that kind of challenge at that stage of the game. The foul on Zaha should really have been given so what VAR was looking at, we have no idea.


“It is difficult to dispute that Wolves deserved to win the game. On the balance of play, they were on top for most of the first half with Palace struggling to contain attacks out wide. Neves and Coady were not pressed and continually opened the game up with those long diagonal passes. Neto and Podence were afforded too much space and did the necessary damage to get the points. There were other chances to score more goals, Dendoncker’s shot could easily have crept under the bar.

A response from Palace was inevitable in the second half, but Wolves contained them well enough and arguably created better chances on the break than Palace managed with long spells of possession. Palace were dangerous up to a point but lack a Raul Jimenez to finish off some of the spaces opened up by Zaha and co. Despite occupying some dangerous positions, Patricio did not really make a save. It does not look like Batshuayi is the answer to that problem.

Then again, things would have played out differently had his goal not been ruled out in what was Palace’s best passage of play, but he was definitely offside. I didn’t think it was a foul for the penalty they were awarded either so was glad there was another offside to rescue us there. You should have had a penalty for the foul on Zaha in the second half, no arguments there. I am surprised by so many people suggesting the red card was unfair. It was a high, dangerous tackle. Yes, he gets the ball but going at that speed and that high he had to go. No other player needed to make a tackle like that in the 94 minutes, so why did he? I think if that had been a Wolves player making the tackle, my opinion would not change.

My opinion on Palace has not changed after that performance – a good team carrying a lot of threat. But it seems like some defensive solidity has been sacrificed in order to get two strikers on the pitch and score more goals. I was surprised how easily Wolves were able to get at the back four and create chances and that Hodgson did not seem to react when it was clear there were problems with overloads in wide areas. He seemed to suggest afterwards Palace contributed to their own downfall but I thought the shape of the team just was not right and those Wolves goals were always coming. They either had to play further up the pitch (which they did after going 2-0 down) to control the game or drop another body into midfield to stop Neves dictating the play.

Definitely a defeat for me where a coach has to look at the preparation and question whether it was right. Good luck for the rest of the season apart from the return fixture. I think you’ll be in the top half.” – THOMAS BAUGH FROM WOLVES BLOG


Bob White was a coach at Palace under the tenure of Steve Coppell and Alan Smith and will be sharing his point of view each week in our review article.

“Following a solid performance and result last week against Fulham with only 35% possession, we enjoyed 55% possession against Wolves at Molineux but conversely were on the end of a disappointing loss.

Tactically, Wolves were far superior in the first half and fully deserved their two goal lead at half-time. Switches of play to either flank exposed both full backs combined with a delivery of dangerous crosses met with plenty of attacking players arriving in the box kept us on the back foot for long spells. Two such crosses led to both goals being conceded leaving Guaita with no chance of saving either. Defensively during this period, in tactical shape and as individuals we looked all at sea. Although PVA and Clyne as full backs potentially offer us more going forward, arguably Ward and Mitchell are a better pairing when solid consistent defending is required.

Two close VAR decisions for offside were correctly given against us which could have altered the final outcome of the game. However, it was not to be. Although at 2-0 it could be argued that Wolves took their foot off the gas during the second half, I thought our whole tactical shape looked much better ensuring we closed off those wide areas which had caused us so many problems in the first half. However, for all our possession, we posed few questions of their defence in a more evenly contested half.

A potential penalty VAR decision in favour of Zaha was dismissed whilst the technology was used against Milivojevic in a challenge reviewed by referee Atkinson. A red card was awarded for a tackle that certainly looked worse in slow motion. To be critical, our central midfield pairing looked ponderous in and out of possession lacking the dynamism and higher tempo of a Riedewald and McArthur combination. With a pending Milivojevic three match suspension no selection decision regarding our skipper needs to be made in the short term. More generally on an attacking front, Hodgson has that continuing selection conundrum of starting four players from a realistic group of seven.

It is asking a lot of Eze to take that step up from Championship to Premier League football especially against the best teams in the division. So to accommodate him in his favoured role does Hodgson move Zaha to his original wide role allowing Eze to be the floating player behind the main striker? Additionally do we miss the attributes of Ayew in the way we set up? It would be a brave and less cautious manager to leave out one of the established central midfield players and start Zaha, Batshuayi, Townsend, Eze and Townsend.

Reflecting on the game, a below par performance both as a team and individually. The only overall mitigating factor is that Wolves are destined for a top eight finish. Riedewald probably made only one error during the course of the game so possibly shades it as my man of the match but I could easily be persuaded otherwise.

Up the Palace.”


31 VICENTE GUAITA (7) – Not much chance with either goal but was in form when called upon for the rest of the game.

17 NATHANIEL CLYNE (6) – Both goals came down his side, whether it was positioning or lack of support, must do better.

6 SCOTT DANN (6) – Solid enough display from the veteran centre back.

8 CHEIKHOU KOUYATE (6) – With centre backs returning from injury, it could be time to move him back into the midfield.

3 PATRICK VAN AANHOLT (6 – BOOKED!) – First start of the season and while he provides much more going forward, we missed the defensive side of Mitchell’s game who missed out through injury.

44 JAIRO RIEDEWALD (7) – Only one miss-placed pass all game but the set up did not support the centre of midfield which became overrun.

4 LUKA MILIVOJEVIC (5 – SENT OFF!) – Whether you think the sending off was harsh or not, you have to question why the captain decided to make such a challenge at that stage of the game. Struggled throughout.

10 ANDROS TOWNSEND (7 – TEB MAN OF THE MATCH!) – Continued his good form so far this season with another energetic display and looked to be the one that could grab a goal for the Eagles. Replaced by 9 JORDAN AYEW (6) on 72 minutes on his return following a positive COVID-19 test.

15 JEFFREY SCHLUPP (6) – Not up to his usual standard of performances but the visiting midfield struggled all evening. Replaced by 25 EBERECHI EZE (6) on 65 minutes who once again showed some glimpses and could have done enough to get the start over Schlupp against Leeds.

11 WILFRIED ZAHA (6 – BOOKED!) – Should have had a penalty for a foul on him in the area but his petulance that saw him booked soon after really must stop particularly at his age. Regardless, he was a constant threat to the hosts defence.

23 MICHY BATSHUAYI (6) – The offside count is mounting up for the loanee from Chelsea and finished off a great team move only to see it ruled out. Needs a goal, or a place back on the bench. Replaced by 20 CHRISTIAN BENTEKE (6) on 84 minutes to provide some fresh legs but too late for the Belgian to create anything meaningful.


12 Mamadou Sakho, 18 James McArthur, 19 Stephen Henderson, 34 Martin Kelly


11 Rui Patricio, 15 Boly, 16 Coady, 49 Kilman, 22 Nelson Semedo, 32 Dedoncker, 8 Neves, 3 Ait-Nouri, 7 Neto, 10 Catselo Podence, 9 Jimenez

SUBSTITUTES – 2 Hoever, 17 Soares Silva (replaced Jimenez on 90 minutes), 21 Ruddy, 27 Saiss, 28 Joao Moutinho (replaced Neto on 76 minutes), 37 Traore (replaced Podence on 76 minutes), 54 Otasowie


ROY HODGSON  “I’m very disappointed with that one. It’s the worst part of the evening in a way. There would have been positives to take, but to lose a player for three games for a challenge I didn’t even consider a foul will be very hard to take. If it’s up to me I certainly want to appeal against it.”

NUNO ESPIRITO SANTO “It’s all about the performance, the table is not important. The work is important. Playing without fans requires a lot of focus, we haven’t the edge at Molineux.”


The Who Scored man of the match was Pedro Neto (8.3) while the the most shots were from Leander Dedoncker, Daniel Podence and Andros Townsend (3). The most tackles were by Leander Dendoncker and Jairo Riedewald (4) while Nelson Semedo (4) had the most dribbles.

  • Team rating: 7.24 – 6.24
  • Total shots: 15 – 11
  • Shots on target: 5 – 2
  • Possession: 45% – 55%
  • Pass success: 85% – 91%
  • Passes: 446 – 552
  • Dribbles: 9 – 13
  • Aerials won: 12 – 7
  • Tackles: 19 – 10
  • Fouls: 13 – 4
  • Corners: 7 – 6
  • Saves: 2 – 3
  • Dispossessed: 7 – 7


Palace remain on 10 points from 7 games played and will likely drop to around 13th or 14th place once the fixtures for week 7 of the season are complete.


07/11/2020 Leeds United (h) – Premier League (3pm – BT Sport Box Office)


21/11/2020 Burnley (a) – Premier League (3pm)

28/11/2020 Newcastle United (h) – Premier League (3pm)


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