EPL Midseason Analysis: Wolverhampton

| by World Soccer Reader

Before the English Premier League season started, I took a crack at trying to predict where everyone would finish. As you’d expect, some were good, some were bad, some were ugly.

We’ve reached the halfway mark of the campaign (close enough), and with the information we’ve got, current predictions should be more accurate, shouldn’t they?

As we move into 2011, let’s take a look at where we were, where we are, and – most importantly – where we’re going in the next few months.

So, without further ado, a look at all 20 teams (of which only 17 will remain come May):

(Teams are listed by current place in the table)

Pts: 18 (5-12-3)
Preseason Prediction: 17th
Accuracy: Fair
Preseason Overview:
It won’t be pretty, and there will be days I will be asking my TV, “How in the world are they going to score?”. And there will probably be a lot of matches where they get blanked. But, whatever you think of Mick McCarthy, he’s no dummy. He knows that only three teams can get relegated, and 17th will do just fine.

It should be very close, but I think McCarthy and Wolves – led by Kevin Doyle and a serviceable defense – will stay up. Barely.

Overview now:
Not that far off. Your eyes tell you that they’ve probably played well enough to be off the bottom of the table, and if you got points for working hard, Wolves would be staying up. They come to play virtually every game, and rarely make it easy on opponents. But at some point, you need quality, and Wolves have little, especially up front.

They can take solace in the fact that Doyle only has one goal, and when he comes back from injury, rested, he’s probably good for a couple that will hopefully get them three points each. It also wouldn’t hurt to get Karl Henry back.

Best new signing then:
Stephen Hunt – He’s been about what you’d expect Hunt to be, although he’s never quite been able to recapture the form he had at Reading a few years back.
Preseason key player:

Doyle – His form wasn’t great before the injury: 1 goal and 3 assist in 15 starts. There may not be a player more important to his team right now,and I’m not sure that’s great news for Wolves.

Key player now:

Nenad Milijas – The Serbian was brought in to bring much-needed quality to the Wolves side, but he struggled for much of last season. He’s been better this season, leading Wolves in shots on goal with 15, and their margin for error for staying in the top flight may be a goal here or a goal there.
Inside the Numbers:

20 – Number of appearances by Kevin Foley, the only Wolves player to play in every one of their league games this season.

If everything goes right, they’ve still got a great chance of staying up. But how often does that happen? It will still go down to the wire, but I think Wolves will fall on the wrong side of the line this time.
Prediction: 18th

Read the rest of Ray Curren’s team-by-team midseason review series here.