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wolves 1000x500Often an international break is an unwelcome interruption to a season which always appears to be stop/start with three of them by November, but as the Clarets go to Wolves tomorrow it might be that this first one came at the best time possible.

The season hasn’t really gone to plan so far. We’re out of the European competition we spent the second half of last season we’d get into and in the Premier League we’ve won just the solitary point we got from the 0-0 draw on the opening weekend at Southampton.

I think we all dismissed the possibility that playing in those European games might have a detrimental effect. We don’t know whether they did but it is a fact that most Premier League clubs have played no more than five games (four in the league and one in the League Cup) whereas we’ve played ten including those long trips to Turkey and Greece.

It’s left us in 19th place in the Premier League and if West Ham had played today and won we would have been travelling to Molineux in bottom place. That’s a situation that needs to be rectified very quickly; we need to get away from those bottom places as soon as we can because the longer we are there, the more difficult it always seems to get away.

Interestingly, though, the three clubs in the bottom three last season after five games were Everton, Bournemouth and Crystal Palace. None of them were relegated; the three clubs who did go down were 10th, 13th and 14th while Huddersfield, who were fighting for their lives last May, were in 6th place.

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It would be good to get moving forwards now and defender and current team captain Ben Mee said: “It’s been a tough start. We’ve had a lot of games, but we enjoyed the European period.

“No one was complaining about being in Europe at all and we all want to play in big games, but I guess we can focus on the Premier League now. It will be nice to get back playing again and we’re looking forward to Sunday.”

He added: “We know what we need to do and I am confident, the lads are confident and everyone is confident around here that we are going to pick up points and start moving up the table. There’s no panic on our side but we want to put in the work that will make us get those points.”

Mee had a difficult game last time out against Manchester United but his place is currently assured with Ben Gibson waiting to see a specialist. I expect him to play alongside James Tarkowski and I think Sean Dyche will stick with Phil Bardsley and Charlie Taylor in the full back positions.

The only change could be in the wide midfield position. With Jόhann Berg Guðmundsson fit again he’ll probably return at the expense of Dwight McNeil who did so well in his two starts, particularly against Olympiacos.

We could line up: Joe Hart, Phil Bardsley, James Tarkowski, Ben Mee, Charlie Taylor, Aaron Lennon, Ashley Westwood, Jack Cork, Jόhann Berg Guðmundsson, Jeff Hendrick, Chris Wood. Subs from: Tom Heaton, Matt Lowton, Kevin Long, Stephen Ward, Dwight McNeil, Sam Vokes, Ashley Barnes, Matěj Vydra.

Wolves are back in the Premier League after a six year absence that actually saw them drop to League One in the 2013/14 season. They did so last season by winning 99 Championship points and losing only seven times, going up with second place Cardiff and Fulham, who finished third and won the play-offs.

That last occasion in the Premier League lasted three years after they’d gone up in 2009, again as Champions, with Birmingham and us.

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This season they’ve started with two home draws against Everton and Manchester City, the only team to take points off last season’s Premier League winners so far. Away from home they were beaten at Leicester but, last time out, beat West Ham 1-0 with a stoppage time goal from Adama Traore (shown above), a summer signing from Middlesbrough.

Ivan Cavaleiro hasn’t played yet this season because of a back problem and they could also be without Raúl Jiménez who picked up an injury on international duty with Mexico. Otherwise they have a fully fit squad available.

Against West Ham they lined up: Rui Patrício, Matt Doherty, Ryan Bennett, Conor Coady, Willy Boly, Jonny Otto, Ruben Neves, Joao Moutinho, Costa (Leo Bonatini 72), Diogo Jota (Adama Traore 61), Raúl Jiménez (Ruben Vinagre). Subs not used: John Ruddy, Kourtney Hause, Romain Saiss, Morgan Gibbs-White.

 

LAST TIME WE WERE THERE

 

Our last trip to Molineux was in the 2015/16 promotion season and it was not a game that will live long in the memory. It ended 0-0 and I wrote at the time: “Some 0-0 draws are good games, even exciting affairs; others are games that look to have 0-0 stamped all over them for most of the ninety minutes. This one, I can confirm, was very much in the latter category with neither side ever threatening to get the upper hand over the other.”

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We had a couple of early opportunities as did Wolves towards the end and that was about it, there is little else to remember.

Joey Barton said: “I don’t think I’ll remember that one when I’ve got my pipe and slippers in 30 years ‘ time but we had to dig deep in the second half and we came away with a point.”

The teams were;

Wolves: Emiliano Martinez (Carl Ikeme 57), Dominic Iorfa, Danny Batth, Mike Williamson, Scott Golbourne, James Henry, Kevin McDonald, Jack Price, Sheyi Ojo (Nathan Byrne 58), Dave Edwards, Benik Afobe. Subs not used: Matt Doherty, Conor Coady, Jed Wallace, Adam Le Fondre, Grant Holt.

Burnley: Tom Heaton, Tendayi Darikwa, Michael Duff, Michael Keane, Ben Mee (Stephen Ward 78), George Boyd (Matt Taylor 75), Joey Barton, David Jones, Scott Arfield, Sam Vokes (Rouwen Hennings 65), Andre Gray. Subs not used: Matt Gilks, Matt Lowton, Kevin Long, Michael Kightly.

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