Speaking to the BBC’s FA Cup semi-final highlights programme on BBC 1 at 11pm on Sunday night, Martin Keown gave his verdict on Wolves’ extra time defeat to Watford at Wembley, picking out some of the key points from their loss.
Keown first touched on two major reasons for why Wolves lost the game, assessing that Nuno Santo didn’t do enough to get Ruben Neves involved after he was closely monitored by Roberto Pereyra whilst also criticising their wing-backs. Talking to the BBC, he said:
“It was interesting because Wolves didn’t seem to worry about that Pereyra situation. They weren’t getting their wing-backs forward in quite the same way that they normally do. To go 2-0 up at that point, I think that’s when the mistakes were made.”
The mistake the former Arsenal man picked up on was to bring on Ryan Bennett for Neves with four minutes of regulation time to go. He also focused on Conor Coady’s involvement in Gerard Deulofeu’s winning goal.
“If you saw, Bennett was standing on the sideline there at 2-1 for an age and perhaps it was the wrong player to come on at that particular time. All credit to Watford because they showed the quality, Coady gets a bit drawn to the ball and there’s no substitute for pace. Deulofeu’s pace there for that goal was truly outstanding.”
The BBC pundit’s view of the game is absolutely spot on and highlights some of the major flaws in Santo’s management. His substitutes late on in the game invited pressure on the Wolves backline and provided evidence of the lack of plan B they possess.
Matt Doherty may have scored the opening goal of the game but his threat was largely nullified, the same can be said for the opposite wing-back, Jonny.
Taking Neves off, meanwhile, was probably the worst thing they could have done. Although the Portuguese international didn’t have the greatest of games his calming presence would have been particularly beneficial in the closing moments.
With the game then going to extra time after Troy Deeney’s penalty, Wolves didn’t have enough attacking threat on the pitch to win the tie themselves.