Mick McCarthy’s counter-attack policy could pay dividends

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Wolves haven't had such an important weekend for quite some time. It could be said that their recent results don't fully reflect the performances put in, but the table is there for all to see, in black and white: played 13, won two, drawn three, lost eight, nine points.

It doesn't make for great reading; especially having played West Ham, Bolton, Fulham and Wigan along the way and taken only one point from those games.

Of course, things could be a lot worse. If Mick McCarthy hadn't managed a masterful win over Manchester City, an opening day triumph over Stoke and a point away at Goodison Park, Wolves would be rock bottom without a hope. Fortunately this isn't the case.

So, a trip to Bloomfield Road awaits tomorrow. It's not an unfamiliar trip for McCarthy and his side as both teams were members of the Championship in 2008-09. That season, Wolves went on to win the league by seven points whereas Blackpool finished in a lowly 16th position; McCarthy took four points from the Seasiders, winning 2-0 at home and drawing 2-2 on the road.

Maybe the Wolves boss wouldn't be too displeased with similar results this season - but the loss to Bolton a week ago means a win in desperately needed.

Wolves have plenty of good news to focus on in the build up to the clash. This week, McCarthy has welcomed Christophe Berra and Ronald Zubar back into full training. The boost in defence is much-needed after conceding two goals in the first minute in their last two games.

Other news that will be likely to buoy the Wolves camp is the likely absence of two key Blackpool players. Firstly, the talismanic Charlie Adam has picked up a knee injury on International duty with Scotland and is unlikely to feature; secondly the ever-impressive Matt Gilks has broken his knee cap and reports suggest he'll be sidelined for two months.

No-one would wish an injury upon any player, but without Gilks and Adam, Blackpool become a different prospect.

The Tangerines still have a host of players that will be able to out Wolves under pressure during the game. Gary Taylor-Fletcher, Luke Varney and David Vaughan have all stepped up to the plate this season and will cause the visiting back four more than a few problems over 90 minutes.

They fit so well with Ian Holloway's attacking ethos and Blackpool have shown real prowess in the final third this season; passing the ball with zip and style. Karl Henry will have to put in a real shift for his side to keep them at bay.

From a Wolves perspective, the attacking nature of the home side could present their best opportunity to get back to winning ways. McCarthy loves playing on the counter - his team are expertly set up to turn defence into attack in a flash. Once the ball is at the feet of Matt Jarvis, Stephen Hunt, Kevin Doyle or Steven Fletcher, there is a real chance of a goal scoring opportunity. Jarvis provides the pace, Hunt the intelligence, Doyle and Fletcher the clinical touch in front of goal.

It is impossible to stress enough the importance of keeping a clean sheet past the first minute. Bolton and Arsenal both took the lead with only seconds on the clock and, in all honesty, these goals were the undoing of Wolves - if those goals hadn't been scored, the outcomes could have been very different.

Having lost three games on the trot now, McCarthy will be increasingly desperate to pick up points. Without them, every game becomes a must-win, pressure rises on the players and teams can crumble. Three points against a decent Blackpool side is something Wolves will feel they deserve due to recent performances; but they'll have to battle extremely hard to walk away with a win.

The least they could hope for is that Liverpool, without Steven Gerrard, can help them out a little by beating West Ham and keeping Wolves off the bottom of the Premier League table.

Disclaimer: The views in this article are that of the writer and may not replicate those of the Professional Footballers' Association.

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Premier League
Matthew Jarvis
Wolverhampton Wanderers

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