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Southampton V Wolverhampton Wanderers The Preview
Friday, 14th Jan 2022 09:33

Saints travel to Molyneux looking for their first League win in 15 years, but they meet a Wolves side flying and looking to get into the top 7 and cement their place as the top of the pile in mid table.

Wolves are in fine form if you look at the League table, they sit 8th on 28 points and a win over Saints could push them into the top 7, however a look at the form table shows that in the last five games, their tally of 7 points is one less than Saints 8.

Last time out in the Premier league they beat Manchester United and before that a home draw with Chelsea and an away win at Brighton, but given their two other games in the form table were Liverpool and Manchester City, both 1-0 defeats, even the form table isn't what it seems.

But Saints themselves can go their with confidence, the win at Brentford made in 4 games without defeat in the league with the debacle against Arsenal the only reverse.

Although we won at Molyneux in the cup last season and got a draw, it hasn't been a happy hunting ground for us, we haven't won in the League since our 6-0 thrashing of them in the Championship back in 2006/07 season, although we haven't played them that much since in the League, perhaps 5 times.

Now is the time to get a win there and in doing so push ourselves up the league, the Brentford game was a pleasing home start to our new owners era at St Mary's and our most emphatic victory on our own turf since November 2017 and that shows how we have had to struggle onwards.

But slowly but surely in that time we have moved forward with little steps here and there, although at times it feels like something is against us, as it always seems to be us that has the big injury list and the poor refereeing decisions just at the wrong time.

Ralph Hasenhuttl has built a squad though, he has had to shed some dead wood first but in recent times most of that has gone and we have bought well and now we are seeing some fruits of that, last season fell away as injury and suspensions bit and the squad could not cope, but this term we showed we can.

Ralph has also started to find out the players who are first choice and those who aren't, there were some strange decisions at the start, but now he is settling on those whom he feels he can trust.

For this game we have a couple of players back, notably Kyle Walker Peters and Yan Valery and Ralph can pick something like his full squad.

A win here would not really push us up the table much but would cement our place firmly chasing a top half spot, our first aim in any season like over half of the Premier League is to make sure we don't get in trouble at the bottom, in this respect we are perhaps 3 wins from safety and to get one of them now would be good.

The first part of the season wasn't good as it stuttered too much, but now we are starting to find our rhythm and the depth of the squad is starting to be worth an extra point here and there.

So we can go to the Black Country with confidence that we can compete and take the points.

I think it is likely he will go back to the usual 4-4-2 for this game although on issue that hasn't been discussed is that at Brentford Rasmus Ankersen had encouraged using only one tried and tested formation, they played it week in week out and it never changed.

That may have been due to the depth of their squad and needing to find a winning formula, Ralph has a bigger and better squad, he can change things and did so on Tuesday, where his line up matched the 3-5-2 of the visitors.

We have to ask whether this was coincidence in that we had no right backs available so it made sense, or are we going to follow the Brentford model to the letter of the law ?

Perhaps we will find out at Molyneux, it is a cautious note but I do hope that the manager is allowed to pick his own tactical formation depending on the players available and the game in question.

I would expect Kyle Walker Peters to be back in a four man defence for this one, and I would expect a four man midfield, JWP & Romeu are first choice in the centre which is a shame on Diallo as he is a decent player.

So the first question for Ralph will who plays out wide, I would suggest Nathan Tella & perhaps Stuart Armstrong back in the team, but don't rule out Nathan Redmond who some seem to take against but is a player who can actually deliver both in terms of goals and assists, fancy play looks good but it has to have an end product, Redmond has his critics but he has delivered more in terms of assists and goals than his rivals for a first team place, I would not be surprised to see him back in a wide midfield role.

Up front Broja will start, the big question is who plays alongside him, Redmond has done well in recent weeks, but Che Adams is a natural striker so I would not be surprised to see him back, Adam Armstrong is also a very good choice whom I think will prove his worth in the second half of the season.

So all looking good at the moment, but as we all know this is when Saints are at their most vulnerable, when it looks good, it usually comes up and bites us up the arse.

But lets finish on a positive note, we are now looking like we have our best squad since Ronald Koeman left 6 years ago, we have new owners, we all need to look forward and not backwards.

Photo: Action Images

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StAnt added 09:54 - Jan 14
Christ, if we're looking for our first league win in 15 years we've more problems than I thought.

A1079 added 11:59 - Jan 14
Wolves are tight. They don't score many but equally they don't concede many. I think they will be happy to soak up any early pressure and hope to hit us late in the game. 1-1 would not surprise me. That probably means it will now be 5-4 either way as my predications are usually completely pants!

TimSaint added 13:00 - Jan 14
As long as our defence don't switch off like they usually tend to do against Wolves, we should be good for at least a draw.

Nick - I'm sure I've told you on here in the past that it is MOLINEUX, not Molyneux !! :-)

WestSussexSaint added 13:25 - Jan 14
If we can win at West Ham then we should be confident going to Wolves. As A1079 says Wolves play a much more conservative (boring?) style but it is effective. We need to be patient and focussed.

On a side point, Nick you mention Ankerson’s potential influence on tactics. Based on the interviews given during the takeover I don’t see this happening. Ankerson was clear that he is CEO of Sport Republic and won’t be involved in the day to day running of the club which will be left to Semmens let alone suggesting tactics to Ralph.

lemmsy added 18:48 - Jan 14
With wolves really finding their feet , going into this game would normally be full of nerves & grateful for a draw but with the momentum we’ve gained in the last 6-8 games & especially away to West Ham things are slightly different.Of course any premier league game can go either way but we definitely go into this one full of confidence.

Waylander added 21:03 - Jan 14
I would keep the formation used against Brentford that gave us much more control of the midfield.

Peterx added 12:21 - Jan 15
He probably wont do this, but since Valery impressed against Swansea as a makeshift CB, by picking Valery at Right Back in a 4-2-2-2 he could also drop in to a 3 at the back during the game if we wanted to mix it up.

Monksway added 13:22 - Jan 15
Perraud has covered a lot of ground while KWP has been out. It's a rough position and I wouldn't be surprised to see Valery and KWP as the full backs.

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