These two clubs have only ever met in the English top division twice. That was in 1981/82, when John Toshack's Swansea were on their way to finishing sixth, and a place in Europe, while Wolves were on their way down. In October at the Vetch Field, the teams played out a goalless draw. Come March at Molineux, Swansea scuttled off with a dour 1-0 victory, Ian Walsh heading the winner. The result "salvaged Welsh pride", it says here, as it sent Swansea top of the division on a day Wales got spanked in the rugby, 34-18 against Scotland, their first home defeat in 28 championship matches.
No pointers worthy of note, then. I don't know why I mentioned it.
Perhaps more pertinent, is the fact that Swansea are the only side yet to pick up a point away from home this season. And that Wolves have lost their last five league matches, their worst run in the top division since 1984, which was another relegation season for them I'll be bound.
Kick off at the grand old Molineux: 12.45pm.
Wolverhampton Wanderers: Hennessey, Stearman, Berra, Johnson, Ward, Jarvis, Henry, O'Hara, Hammill, Doyle, Ebanks-Blake.
Subs: De Vries, Craddock, Hunt, Vokes, Milijas, Doherty, Guedioura.
Swansea City: Vorm, Rangel, Monk, Williams, Taylor, Dyer, Allen, Gower, Britton, Sinclair, Graham.
Subs: Tremmel, Orlandi, Routledge, Lita, Moore, Richards, Moras.
Referee: Michael Oliver (Northumberland)
The teams are out! They're running about. They'll soon be playing football.
And we're off! Wolves set the ball rolling. Nobody manages to control the ball during the first 30 seconds, but then nobody managed that for nearly 70 minutes during the Liverpool-Manchester United game last week, and few complained about that. Then, after 39 seconds, Henry latches onto a loose ball 35 yards out, and unleashes a super-screamer towards goal. The ball's low, rising slowly, and swerving all over the place, but by the time it reaches the six-yard box it's straight at Vorm, who can parry clear. What a shot, though! And what a start. More, teams, please!
3 min: A strong start by Wolves, this. Ebans-Blake sends Jarvis free wide down the left, and the resulting cross to the far post is dangerous, but Henry miscontrols. Wolves come straight back at Swansea, though, the promising Hammill twisting and turning down the right to win a corner.
4 min: Nothing comes of the corner, but then this is Premier League football.
5 min: Dyer twists Ward this way and that down the right, some good old fashioned Garrinchaisms, but the Wolves man holds firm and Dyer has to lay the ball off. It'll never make much of an anecdote, but it's all that Swansea have managed in the Wolves half so far.
7 min: It's sunny in Wolverhampton, by the way. Crisp and cold, I'll be bound, coat and sunglasses weather. A good atmosphere, too, both sets of fans giving it plenty.
8 min: Swansea have settled a bit now, with Dyer their main outlet. Again he gives Ward a torrid time down the right, and sends a daisycutter into the area. Berra gets across to intercept, sidefooting the ball wide right of goal for a corner. The corner kick... yeah.
9 min: Swansea are pinging it around nicely, all of a sudden. Allen hits a rising shot from 20 yards that's fingertipped over by Hennessey.
10 min: From the corner, the ball's worked out to Rangel on the right. A cross to the near post, where Graham guides the ball well right of the target. He was free of the all-gold back line there, and should have done better. Swansea took a while to warm up, but they're the better team now. Molineux is a wee bit quiet all of a sudden, anxiety having just arrived, Black Dog still queuing up outside the stadium for admission.
13 min: Swansea aren't all pretty passes; they snap into the tackle, and harry all over the pitch. Like Barcelona, sort of, only admittedly not quite as good, but very much less self-righteous.
15 min: O'Hara busies himself down the left, giving Jarvis a bit of space to cross. The ball's flung into the area, but easily cleared. Henry has half a second to unleash another long-distance effort towards goal, and he's encouraged by the crowd to do so via the medium of holler, but he can't get the shot away and the crowd go back to quietly seething. Don't judge, a five-match losing run does this to people.
18 min: Dyer, Rangel and Gower are causing Wolves all manner of bother down this right wing. Ward is spinning around like a teenager after two warm cans of Special Brew. He's helped out this time by Jarvis and O'Hara, albeit not particularly convincingly, Dyer nearly threading a clever pass past two old-gold shirts for Graham in the box, but the ball's eventually hacked clear. A concern for Wolves, this wing.
20 min: Wolves so nearly take the lead. Good work from Doyle down the right, whose low cross finds Jarvis level with the far post. Jarvis spins and shoots, but his effort is blocked. The ball's quickly swung back in, and there's a wee melee, O'Hara finally hitting a shot in the crowded area from six yards straight at Vorm. The resulting corner's wasted, but that's raised the crowd.
23 min: GOAL!!! Wolverhampton Wanderers 0-1 Swansea City. Dyer, cutting in from the right, shoots just over. No matter. A minute later, Gower, 30 yards out, lifts the ball straight down the middle, over Johnson and to the feet of Graham, who has broken clear into the area down the inside-left channel. He's clear on the edge of the six-yard box, and pokes the ball past the advancing Hennessey and into the bottom-right corner.
25 min: A free kick for Wolves, 30 yards out, just to the left of goal. Hammill hits a beauty, the ball heading for the top left corner, Vorm fingertipping over spectacularly. A very decent response by Wolves, but one made in a very quiet stadium. Outside, you can hear Black Dog creaking through the turnstiles.
28 min: Graham, Dyer, Gower and Sinclair are coming at Wolves from all angles. The home defence looks very nervous whenever anybody runs with the ball at them. A couple of corners for Swansea, the first nervously cleared behind by Henry, the second a free kick to relieve the pressure after Graham puts himself about a wee bit too much.
31 min: Wolves can't get anything going. "Up early here in the USA watching the match," reports Herman Hooker from Atlanta. "I just wanted to let you know that my TV's program guide calls this English Championship Soccer. They usually call it English Premier League Soccer. Perhaps an omen?" If Wolves fans didn't already feel the chill winds of 1984 against their necks, they will now.
33 min: Jarvis looks to spin Monk on the left-hand edge of the Swansea area. He's upended by Monk's lunge as he turns, and it looks like a penalty kick, but that's an excellent decision by the referee, who only awards a free kick: on second viewing, the challenge was millimetres outside the area. The referee, of course, only had one chance to see it, and the poor buggers get pelters just about every week, so hats off for that. The Wolves fans don't see it that way, of course, and boo accordingly as O'Hara steps up to send a free kick straight at Vorm.
35 min: GOAL!!! Wolverhampton Wanderers 0-2 Swansea City. So simple. Graham tears down the right after a clever looped pass. He's in acres, and sends a low cross into the centre for Allen, who flicks brilliantly into the left-hand corner, Hennessey having no chance whatsoever. Brilliant play from Swansea, though the closing down by Wolves in the middle, as the move developed, was questionable to say the least. Molineux erupts in booing, a mix of pique at the (correct) non-penalty decision, and the inadequacies of their own team.
38 min: "You're getting sacked in the morning," sing the Swansea fans. Black Dog is scampering up and down the vomitories.
42 min: Dyer diddles down the right, cuts inside, and is afforded an age to take a shot at goal. Luckily for Wolves, his effort is low and lame; for a second, that looked like a third. Swansea are nothing short of superb in attack, especially down this right-hand side. Wolves, on the other hand, well, let's not riff on their pain.
43 min: Sinclair cuts inside from the left and hammers a shot goalwards. Hennessey parries. On the edge of his own area, Johnson looks to clear, but only succeeds in hammering the ball straight into Berra. The clearance could clank anywhere, but ricochets out of play down the left, well away from danger. Wolves are now officially a shambles.
45 min: Dyer is down getting some treatment on his right leg. He's been outstanding in this first half; Swansea certainly won't want to lose him.
HALF TIME: Wolverhampton Wanderers 0-2 Swansea City. The teams depart to a chorus of boos. Wolves, more accurately, depart to a chorus of boos. They've been as dreadful as Swansea have been scintillating. Molineux is miffed. Here's Roy Allen with "It's Oversimplification Time! So here goes. Swansea are a well-coached team of players picked for their ability on the ball. Wolves are a disorganised shower of players picked for brawn and getting stuck in. It's past v future, and the future is 2-0 up."
HALF-TIME ADVERTISEMENT BREAK:
Probably the most famous advert released during the 1983/84 season, the last time Wolves lost six top-flight games in a row.
We're off again! Swansea set the ball rolling, and Wolves really do have to up their game. Mick McCarthy had sent his team out early; no changes, though. Now, I didn't mention it at the time, because my instant reaction is to feel sorry for wee kiddies crying at football, as opposed to riffing on their pain in the gleeful Sky style, but it is worthy of note, I guess: there was a shot of a poor young lad, water coming out his face, before the 40-minute mark was up. That's got to be some sort of record. Oh Mick! How could you!
46 min: Stearman is booked for a crude late lunge on Taylor, who was looking to break down the left. "The 'sacked in the morning' chant is so encompassing," opines Anthony O Connell. "Someone at a stadium of 30-40 thousand people is likely to get sacked either today, tomorrow or Monday. It would be better if it was sacked on Monday!"
47 min: Dyer shimmies down the right, seemingly all fixed up from his pre-interval injury. He cuts a low ball back into the centre for Gower, who takes a touch but can't set himself up for the shot. Wolves already look all over the shop again, and we're only 120 seconds into the half.
49 min: A long crossfield pass from O'Hara nearly releases Jarvis down the left, but he's bustled out of it. The Swans swim up the other end, Allen sashaying across the edge of the area from the left and eventually getting a decent shot on target; Hennessey snaffles it well. Meanwhile here's a first: an email from our old pal Ryan Dunne which contains not one single reference to the "Glorious Glasgow Rangers". And you thought you'd never see the day. "Given that Wolves look doomed, how about a riff on who would win in a fight: an actual wolf or an actual swan? It's surely not as open-and-shut as one might think, much of the Golden Eagle's supremacy (they've been known to have a pop at actual bears) coming down to the aerial advantage, which swans share. And they can break your arm with your wing you know. I can certainly see such a duel going to extra-time and penalties (as it were).
51 min: Ebans-Blake causes momentary panic in the Swansea area. He's got his back to goal, six yards out, the ball at his feet, but can't get any pace on his effort as he turns; the danger is hacked clear. The crowd don't really respond, though, perhaps sensing that the incident kind of just happened after an absurd chain of events, rather than a series of progressive passes. Wolves are very disjointed.
54 min: Graham nearly latches onto a simple ball straight down the middle. It's just too far in front of him, so the danger passes for Wolves, but the old-gold shirts were dotted around haphazardly, asking for all sorts of trouble. These are worrying times for Wolves.
56 min: Dyer has a dig from distance. He's aiming for the top-right corner, but Hennessey plucks the ball out of the sky at full stretch. Wolves go up the other end, Doyle trying to make things happen down the inside-left channel, but nothing much comes of it. "Please make it stop," cries Peter Cooney. "Even Mick looks beaten. Thank goodness Wolves have two easy fixtures coming up in the next week. Man City home and away should bring that confidence flowing back."
58 min: O'Hara has a desperate dig from 30 yards, the ball flying into the top tier of the stand behind. Molineux is almost silent, bar the away section. Black Dog is doing laps.
60 min: Rangel swings a cross to the far post from a deep position on the right. Hennessey comes to claim, backtracks, and eventually does well to block an effort by Sinclair, with his goal gaping. Wolves really are in a proper state, that whole business coming from a half-hearted clearance by Henry.
62 min: A corner for Swansea. It comes to naught. But there's a real sense that a third goal for Swansea isn't long in coming. "For the record," begins Ryan Dunne, replying to his own riff (49 mins) so you don't have to, "the badge-animal of the Glorious Glasgow Rangers is a particularly fetching bear, which could take a wolf and swan AT THE SAME TIME!"
63 min: Sinclair slaloms at pace down the inside-left channel, past three or four challenges. He enters the area but, with the Wolves sirens blaring, steps on the ball just as he shapes to shoot, and bounces along on his buttocks for a while, a sketch that should really have been soundtracked by a parping tuba.
65 min: Ebans-Blake and Allen get involved in a shoving match, the former having knocked the latter to the ground with a late challenge. The referee doesn't bother to book anyone, opting instead for a tired sigh, grown men and all. He's got no option but to get his card out a few seconds later, though, O'Hara flipping Dyer into the air like an egg.
67 min: Sinclair turns Stearman inside out down the left. He aims for the bottom-right corner, but the shot's deflected, and nearly loops over Hennessey into the net. The corner comes to nothing. Swansea are all over Wolves.
68 min: A double change by Mick McCarthy, and one that sends the Molineux faithful into a stratospheric funk. They're up on the downstroke. They're really not happy that Hammill and Jarvis are the men to make way, the pair trotting off to a George Clinton slap-bass symphony of boos. Guedioura and Milijas take their place, albeit slightly sheepishly. "You're getting sacked in the morning," sing the Swansea fans, and I wonder whether a few of the home crowd are joining in too.
71 min: Rangel comes in from the right and has a dig from distance. It's deflected out for a corner. From which Sinclair receives the ball on the left-hand edge of the area, cuts inside, and sends a low shot to the bottom-left corner. Hennessey is forced to tip round the post. There's a scramble after the second corner, too, but Britton can't get on the end of Williams' ball from the right, and the danger finally evaporates away.
74 min: Britton is replaced by Orlandi. No histrionics accompany the Swansea substitution. "I'd think Ryan Dunne's Wolf/Swan fight would be the most boring catenaccio-fest you could want to come across," suggests Robin Hazlehurst. "The swan is perfectly safe on the water where the wolf can't get it, while it is toast if it makes a fair fight on the land. There would be a lot of posturing from each participant with neither venturing out of it's own half. Nailed on for penalties, which the swan would edge as its long neck allows it to Glasgie-kiss the keeper while shooting."
76 min: Sinclair scoots past Stearman as though he wasn't there, which he might as well not be. Once he gets to the byline, the ball's whipped through the six-yard box. Hennessey gets down well to claim, with Graham lurking in the hope of sidefooting into an empty net from close range. Meanwhile we've left it late, but here's Gary Naylor: "In response to Ryan Dunne's question, there may well be websites that cater for such interests, but I don't recommend them. I spend a lot of time in rural Sweden where there's a chance of running into all three beasts he names and I can promise you that I'd rather come across a swan than a wolf and a wolf than a bear. And I'd rather come across all three at once than an elk in the dark wandering across the road in front of my motorbike."
78 min: Ward is set free down the left by a quick free kick. The cross doesn't clear the first white shirt.
80 min: Hennessey slips on the edge of the area, nearly letting Graham in on goal. That would have put the tin lid on it.
81 min: Milijas is brought down as he bustles down the inside-right channel. Free kick, 30 yards out. Milijas gets up and hammers the set piece straight into the wall.
82 min: After pinball in the Wolves box, Gower has the ball at his feet eight yards from goal. But he can't quite control and sends himself wide left. His attempt to pull the ball back for Dyer causes some more pinball, but Hennessey eventually claims.
83 min: A change apiece: Dyer replaced by Routledge, Ebans-Blake by Vokes.
84 min: GOAL!!! Wolverhampton Wanderers 1-2 Swansea City. Out of nothing, we have a game! O'Hara grapples with Routledge down the inside-left channel, asking for a penalty. Nothing doing; corner. And it turns out to be a good decision for Wolves, Vokes spinning and shooting on the penalty spot, Vorm saving, and Doyle knocking the rebound home.
86 min: WHAT A GOAL!!! Wolverhampton Wanderers 2-2 Swansea City. Blimey! What a turnaround. Doyle scampers down the left at pace, pulls the ball back into the middle, and O'Hara roofs a first-time shot into the net from the penalty area. Swansea have been on top for 85 minutes, and now look!
88 min: Molineux is rocking now! Swansea are reduced to hoofing clearances upfield, every man back defending. Between the goals, by the way, Moras came on for Gower.
90 min: Milijas hits a shot from the best part of 40 yards. It's going just wide left, but Vorm's not to know that, and he fingertips out for a corner. Nothing comes of the set piece.
90 min +1: This is the first of three minutes of injury time. Guedioura tries to swivel and volley home from 25 yards, but the effort is wild.
90 min +2: A bit of head tennis in the Swansea area, and Milijas suddenly has a free header, six yards out, just to the left of goal. His goalwards effort is weak; a chance to seal an incredible win spurned.
FULL TIME: Wolverhampton Wanderers 2-2 Swansea City. A free kick down the left for Wolves gives the home side one last chance to eke out a chance, but it's wasted. And that's that. On the one hand, Wolves didn't deserve anything from that game, so poor were they for 80-plus minutes. But then on the other, they didn't know they were beaten, and came back to claim a point. And they all count. Mick McCarthy has the good grace not to look particularly happy at the comeback; Brendan Rodgers has the proper heat on as he walks off, despite a first away point this season for his side.