|Southampton 1 v 2 Wolverhampton Wanderers|
Barclays Premier League
Sunday, 14th February 2021 Kick-off 12:00
Southampton V Wolverhampton Wanderers The Preview
Saturday, 13th Feb 2021 10:22
Another double header and Saints fans will be hoping that it won't go the same way as the last one against Arsenal with an FA Cup victory followed by a Premier League defeat, but this time Ralph Hasenhuttl has some options and some thinking to do.
Saints came back strongly from a run of defeats to beat Wolves on Thursday and now they face the same team again, this time at St Mary's and looking to end a run of five straight Premier League defeats.
Some pundits will point to the fact that Wolves rested a few players on the bench in the FA Cup game, that did of course help Saints, but it was still a Wolves side with experience and for the best part of the final half hour the home side had all their big guns on.
But many failed to recognise that Saints were a few short of a full squad due to injury and also had a couple of players just back from injury and a debutant in the centre of defence.
So all in all it was a satisfactory win with much plus points to be taken, sadly some Saints fans on social media seem to be more keener to look at what they see as the bad things, Nathan Redmond & Moussa Djenepo have come in for a lot of stick, but the truth is they put in the effort, would Saints have won having to carry two players who were as bad as some would say, the answer is no !
Renmond had two big chances, so did Danny Ings, the difference was when in similar positions, Redmond's shot hit the keeper and was saved whilst Ings hit the keeper, rebounded on to his legs and before he had time to react went into the net off him.
So Ings got the man of the match award from BT Sports whilst Redmond got abuse on what has taken over from the toilet wall as the chance for people to hurl insults at those they don't like.
Sometimes you just have to celebrate a victory and this was one of those occasions. Most Saints supporters will do that, I would guess that all clubs have fans who always want to find the bad points, sometimes it just feels like we have more than most, luckily the majority support all the team not just their selected favourites.
Ralph Hasenhuttl has some decisions to make both in terms of who he picks and that could lead to perhaps a change in formation, Ralph used to like to use three at the back but has never had the personnel to play it, now with the emergence finally of Mohammed Salisu, he could well go back to that again at some point.
If he does that would solve one headache in whether to pick Salisu again or Jannik Vestergaard.
My feeling is that Ralph will stick with the 4-4-2 for the moment at least, we have taken a tentative step towards getting back to our form, he will not want to tinker too much until we have got our confidence restored.
If that is the case I think it will be Vestergaard in the team again and Salisu on the bench, but we now know we have a player that can be used sat there.
Other than that I expect the back four to be as normal.
Behind them is perhaps the biggest decision of the weekend for Ralph, who plays in goal ?
Ralph would not be drawn in the press conference:
"Fraser wants to stay in the cup, that's for sure. He wants to play a few more games and now, here we are."
"Give us the clean sheets and then we are set up to score."
Was that a clue as to his thinking, our defeat at Newcastle was down to some soft goals being conceded in the first half which made it a tough task in the second half, not made easier by Newcastle losing players and parking the bus,
The difference between how the defence was set up and performed in the two games played this week was chalk and cheese, Fraser Forster is a different type of goalkeeper to Alex McCarthy and his style seems to suit the way we play.
A few weeks back when we beat Arsenal in the last round, McCarthy was clear number 1 still, but in the 4 games in between the two cup ties he has clearly been out of form, Ralph has a big decision to make on this one.
But this isn't the only decision, he will surely want to bring back both Che Adams and Minamino, the obvious here would be a straight swap between them and Redmond and Djenepo, but Ralph doesn't always do obvious and I have a sneaking feeling that Adams might remain on the bench and Minamino might be deployed alongside Danny Ings with Redmond either joining him on the bench or replacing Djenepo.
I think Saints will line up as follows.
Walker Peter, Bednarek, Vestergaard, Bertrand.
Armstrong, JWP, Romeu, Minamino
Subs, McCarthy, Salisu, Redmond, Djenepo, Stephens, Tella, N' Lundulu, Watts, Chauke.
For the first time this year Ralph truly has options in every department, once he get Diallo and Walcott back off the injury list he will truly have a squad he can utilise.
Last season and at the start of this the bench wouldn't look too bad, when you only had to put out 7 subs,, but when you can have 9 it makes the squad look threadbare.
But the manager likes to work with a small squad augmented by youngsters, sometimes as we have just done you get stretched.
So a good chance here to get back to winning ways in the League as well as the cup, there is now light at the end of a tunnel, we have 5 weeks to get everyone fit, get some wins under our belts and then we take on Bournemouth for a place in the FA Cup semi finals, three years ago we reached Wembley with little enthusiasm, this time it needs to be different, we have a great manager who has turned this club around.
Photo: Action Images
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Letters from Wiltshire #33 by wessex_exile
Today we face a trip to Crawley, not usually a venue that bears fruit for the U’s it has to be said. In nine visits we’ve only won once in the league, and once in the League Cup. Of course, we’ll all remember that League Cup victory, indeed many of us were probably there to see us progress through to 5th round and the dream fixture against Manchester United at Old Trafford. All of our goal-scorers that night, Luke’s Norris and Gambin, and Cohen Bramall (okay, technically an O.G.), are no longer with us, so let’s hope at the very least that recent departee and subsequent returnee Frank Nouble can bag another like his late equaliser against Mansfield. Steve Ball commented during the week about how tight the league is at the moment, and he’s right that a couple of back to back victories would see us move significantly up the table away from danger – but we’ve got to win them first Steve – something we’ve failed to do since our 1-0 victory at Scunthorpe on December 8th.
Letters from Wiltshire #32 by wessex_exile
Fifty years ago yesterday, Colchester United of the 4th Division pulled off the greatest cup giant-killing ever, beating 1st Division Leeds United 3-2 at Layer Road. Watched by 16,000, and the Match of the Day cameras, Dick Graham’s U’s, a rag-tag band of mostly aging journeymen, defied the odds to defeat arguably the greatest club side in Europe at the time. “The greatest cup giant-killing ever” is a bold claim, and over the years various football magazines and websites have run their own polls of which was the greatest. Whilst that day at Layer Rd always features, as the years have gone by other feats fresher in the memory have been put forward as a candidate – we probably all remember Ronnie Radford’s screamer against Newcastle, Sutton’s exploits, or even Bradford City quite recently at Stamford Bridge – but these pale into insignificance when you pause to reflect on the Don Revie side that we beat that day. Sprake, Cooper, Charlton, Hunter, Lorimer, Giles etc – all full internationals, all household names – the only one missing was Billy Bremner, and that was because he was injured. By comparison, all we had to offer was Ray Crawford – at his peak arguably on a par with some in the Leeds side, but that peak had been ten years earlier playing for Ipswich and England. Eleven heroes didn’t just try and hold out against Leeds United, they took the game to their illustrious opponents with such tenacity, grit and no small amount of flair, and before we knew it, the U’s were 3-0 in the lead. As legs tired, Leeds got back into the game with goals from Hunter and Giles, but we held firm – typified at the death by Graham Smith pulling off an impossible save to ensure the U’s achieved the greatest cup giant-killing ever!
Letters from Wiltshire #31 by wessex_exile
And so the dust settles on another transfer window closing, and despite (my) expectations that the possibility of incoming business was going to be remote, we have instead seen a veritable flurry of activity, with no less than three coming in. Big Frank Nouble, making a very welcome return on loan from Plymouth Argyle, of course needs no introduction. Neither really does feisty Brendan Sarpong-Wiredu, here on loan last season, and this time signed full-time from Charlton Athletic for an undisclosed fee. Actually paying hard cash for someone did come as a surprise, presumably offset by the sale of Cohen Bramall to Lincoln for a similarly undisclosed fee. However, the fact that the Addicks have insisted on not only a sell-on clause, but a rarely used buy-back clause too, suggests (a) Wiredu’s signing fee probably wasn’t too high, and (b) Charlton are protecting those finances with these clauses. The last one, which would have been a complete surprise for me were it not for a contact leaking me the news earlier yesterday, is left-back Josh Doherty on loan from Crawley. Josh was only announced once outgoing left-back Bramall was confirmed, and presumably his loan is directly related to part-time fashion model, TV and radio celeb and former left-back Mark Wright signing for Crawley on a non-contract game-by-game basis in December. We have also released seven from the academy, Ollie Kensdale, Miquel Scarlett, Sammie McLeod, Michael Fernandes, Ollie Sims, Danny Collinge and Matt Weaire, and I’m sure we all wish them the best for the future.
Letters from Wiltshire #30 by wessex_exile
Friday night football – can’t beat it. Gives you that feelgood factor all weekend, sitting back to enjoy a stress-free Saturday afternoon watching others fail in your wake. Of course, you have to win first, which we’ve been struggling to do for a while now, so be prepared for the possibility of a miserable weekend just in case. We share this evening with Reading v AFC Bournemouth, albeit they kick-off an hour later than we do. In the real world, leaders of the UK’s five largest business groups have written to Boris demanding action on the substantial difficulties they are facing over Brexit bureaucracy, whilst French border authorities are reporting that two-thirds of lorries arriving from the UK are empty (i.e. no exports leaving the UK). Still, at least the NHS can enjoy their extra £350m per week…
Letters from Wiltshire #29 by wessex_exile
Looks like some around the world have started 2021 a bit cross. Never mind the attempted insurrection at the Capitol earlier this month, those normally laid-back Dutch have now been rioting for three nights running about the imposition of a night-time curfew to try and curb the spread of coronavirus. Farmers in Delhi have stormed through police lines and breached the Red Fort in protest against market reforms, and tragic Somalia has just passed the 30th anniversary of their ongoing civil war. In brighter news, President Biden has immediately begun dismantling and/or reversing some of Trump’s more contentious decisions, including rejoining the Paris Climate Accord, renewed funding for the World Health Organisation, revoking the ‘Muslim travel ban’, defunding the border wall, rescinding Trump’s report calling for a ‘more patriotic’ syllabus in schools, and overturning the ban on transgender people serving in the military.
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