Rival for Survival – Wolverhampton Wanderers

Birmingham City were the last team in focus, now it’s time to examine their local rivals Wolves, who must face another team in trouble, Blackburn Rovers, at Molineux on the final day.

How they will line up

With back-to-back wins using an unchanged team, it’s unlikely Mick McCarthy will make changes for the visit of Rovers. Having finally hit upon a winning formula, now is not the time to tinker. Top scorer Steven Fletcher has hit form at the right time with four goals in his last three appearances, which means Kevin Doyle will again have to settle for a place on the bench despite his return from injury.
Despite his earlier season form being rewarded with an England call-up Matt Jarvis too will have to have to watch from the sidelines against Blackburn. He will be joined on the bench by one-time Blackpool target Sylvain Ebanks Blake and Nenad Milijas, who impressed at Bloomfield Road back in November. Adam Hammill, whose signature Wolves claimed in competition with the Seasiders will struggle to even make the 18.
Key Man
The goals of Fletcher have obviously been significant, but the contribution of Stephen Hunt in recent weeks has had a big impact. Hunt replaced Jarvis for the derby match against West Brom and was all over the pitch as Wolves charged into a 3-0 lead. Hunt has experience of these relegation battles from his time at both Reading and Hull and McCarthy should be able to count on him to help his side over the finishing line.
Their Opponents – Blackburn Rovers
I’ll be taking a closer look at Blackburn tomorrow – check back then for an article dedicated to Rovers’ chances.
What’s Wolves’ form like?
Along with Wigan, Wolves are in the best form going into the final day. Like the Latics, they have taken eight points from the last six games, seven of those points coming in the last three. Moreover, Wolves have put consecutive victories on the board for the first time this campaign – they couldn’t have timed their run any better. Despite this, after taking seven points out of nine they are still not safe due to the form of both Wigan and Blackpool who have picked up crucial points in recent weeks.
At Molineux Wolves have lost only six games this season, racking up an impressive eight home wins, including memorable victories over Man City, Man Utd and Chelsea. With the exception of the 4-0 thrashing of Blackpool though, McCarthy’s side have failed to make the most of their home games against the teams near the bottom. Wolves will still be confident however having lost only one of their last six home games and winning three.
Up the ‘Pool verdict
Of all the clubs in the relegation mix, Wolves fans should probably be most relaxed going into this weekend. They are at home, they have the form, they’re playing a struggling Blackburn side and even a defeat requires two of the teams below them to win in order for them to be relegated. Football fans being football fans of course won’t be without nerves, but I fancy Wolves to top the mini-league of all the teams in danger. Anything other than a Wolves win would be a surprise.
Tomorrow I’ll be focusing on Wolves’ opponents on Sunday, Blackburn Rovers. Please come back then. (Now online here)