Wolverhampton Wanderers vs Southampton
Venue: Molineux Stadium
Referee: Stuart Attwell
The Wolves are on the hunt to grab another three points when they host a stuttering Southampton side at Molineux on Saturday afternoon.
Nuno Espírito Santo’s side have taken seven points from nine with a notable 1-1 draw at Old Trafford last weekend, whereas the Saints have failed to build on their away win by throwing away a two-goal advantage to draw to Brighton and losing 3-0 to Liverpool, taking four points from nine.
Wolves have gone three games unbeaten in the Premier League after adding to the woes of Mourinho last weekend. With a win against Southampton, Nuno will unquestionably put himself in the shop window for September’s Premier League Manager of the Month award due to his team’s exciting performances. Despite a mid-week Caraboa Cup exit against Leicester, they were able to rotate the squad and trial other players against standard opposition.
There are contrasting emotions towards Saints manager Mark Hughes, who kept Southampton in the Premier League with one win last season. He has matched that and added two draws so far in this campaign, though worryingly for Southampton, he seems to be close to repeating the defensive despair he grew into his former club, Stoke City, with a current average of conceding and scoring 1.5 and 1.17 goals per game respectively. Their hammering against Liverpool last week was expected but warnings have been raised after conceding late, twice, to draw with Brighton.
Southampton’s only win came away at Palace which can give them confidence as Wolves’ finishing can be unpredictable from game to game. However, Wolves have created countless chances in each game so far this season from different areas of the pitch which will require the Saints defence to be on top of their game.
They made nine changes for their mid-week clash with Leicester City and despite Nuno saying Wolves “were the better team”, it is likely the eleven Premier League regulars will all start for this fixture, especially after their spirited performance against Manchester United.
However, winger Ivan Cavaleiro got his first run out in a Wolves shirt this season and started the match. Despite his limited impact on the game Nuno was happy to see the forward get an hour of football under his belt, commenting that “we needed to manage the time he had on the pitch, but I’m pleased because he’s another option”. He could feature against Southampton in the closing stages of the game where his pace would be a serious threat.
Raul Jimenez and Ryan Bennett both tested De Gea last week but again, not taking their chances punished them. A Joao Moutinho eighteen yard strike into the top corner saw them get the hard-earned point they deserved. Questions over Wolves taking their chances continue to be the talking point; it’s vital that this squad deliver the quality they have in their chance conversion.
Southampton will line up with a similar team to what they have started with all season. The only emission from the squad will be Norwegian winger, Elyounoussi who has featured regularly so far this season but has been sidelined by a leg injury.
Manolo Gabbiadini has been granted game time coming on as a sub this season but is a doubt for this game due to a hamstring strain. This could present an opportunity to youngster Sam Gallagher but it’s likely Austin and Long will both be chosen ahead of him.
Southampton have quality in the squad and it has shown by some of the football they have fashioned this season. However, the defensive performance has not improved on last season even though they are able to counter this by scoring goals. Mark Hughes needs to address this soon and a clean sheet could be more valuable to the Saints than scoring goals on Saturday. All the players, apart from Elyounoussi, who won away at Crystal Palace will be available. Expect Southampton to use their pace down the wings as their focal point to attack.
Predicted Starting XI’s:
Wolverhampton Wanderers: Rui Patricio; Doherty, Boly, Coady, Bennett, Castro; Neves, Moutinho; Jota, Raul, Costa.
Southampton: McCarthy; Bertrand, Hoedt, Vestergaard, Cedric; Target, Lemina, Hojbjerg, Redmond; Ings, Long.
Prediction: Wolverhampton Wanderers 2 Southampton 1
Depending on how the Saints defend, even with Wolves wasting numerous opportunities, the home side will be favourites to take all three points. Wolves will continue their exciting style of play but if they continue to not take their chances, a game like this will see Southampton potentially asking questions. Both teams have quality going forward but Nuno’s side have not lost at Molineux in the Premier League this season.
With Wolves’ superior form and confidence, Southampton will have to put on a spectacle to leave with something on Saturday.