If there’s one thing I’d dare to challenge Nuno on it’s his reluctance to throw caution to the wind when chasing a game.
More specifically I’d ask him why he never sacrifices a defender in favour of getting another body in the attacking third of the pitch.
Leicester were defending their penalty area for the final 10 minutes and yet we chose to shift Raul Jimenez out wide to accommodate Fabio Silva, while still playing with a sweeper.
It was similar against Sevilla. We conceded that late goal and you would have thought the troops would have been piling forward with nothing to lose, but instead we just petered out.
I’m sure he has an explanation for this rigidity that would expose my tactical naivety but Plan B is still not obvious.
The Saints marched all the way to the top of the Premier League after beating Newcastle 2-0 last time out.
That in itself was some achievement without Danny Ings to call upon. He’ll miss this one too and without wanting to wish bad fortune on a player who has already had more than his fair share, our chances improve without their number 9 to worry about.
In a summer of modest transfer business at St. Mary’s Theo Walcott returned to the club and has slotted in nicely. With Nathan Redmond, Moussa Djenepo and the resurgent Che Adams, they’ve got plenty of good options in attack even without their talisman.
Shane Long usually saves up his best moments for playing against Wolves, so that will be something else to fret about if he gets on the pitch.
I like the makeup of their midfield with intelligent players like Romeu, Ward-Prowse and Armstrong but not convinced their defence is of similar standard and 12 goals conceded in 8 games is high for a team in their lofty position.
They’re a smart outfit though with a good manager and I would expect them to be well into the top half come the end of the season.
The away end
Some thoughts lifted from the pre-match build-up thread on the Saints Web forum.
Winnable game this one, Wolves are decent enough but nothing to be scared of. Will be a goal either way I feel.
Wolves have been a bit of a mixed bag this season. Didn’t look great against Newcastle but are always going to be a threat going forward. Hopefully RB will be back, don’t fancy Stephens or Vokins facing off against Traore (even if his form hasn’t been what it was last season).
Wolves have only scored 8 goals all season which only the exceptionally poor bottom 4 have done worse than. They sold their 2nd Top scorer (Jota) and their equal 3rd top scorer (Doherty) from 2019-20 and apparently Jimenez hasn’t been in great form this season. This isn’t to under estimate them; they are a solid team with good players, but if we can nick a goal they may struggle to score.
Wolves look like a side who are good out of possession, organised, difficult to break down etc – but they don’t seem to be that progressive when they have the ball, bit tentative. Initially it will be hard for us to get a foot hold as they won’t give us much – if any – space. First goal will be key, if they get it then they’ll shut up shop and it will be insanely hard to get anything.
Very good players, but they’re extremely formulaic and structured in their approach, to the point of being quite negative. Always end games strong, when the manager lets them take the handbrake off. We can get something there, for sure, but they’re potentially excellent with the shackles removed.
Although the last game is always the one that sticks in the mind, we shouldn’t forget that we performed very well against Palace.
If we could replicate the first half from that game then it would make sense to keep the front three as it is, but I think it might be time to give Traore a chance at the expense of Podence.
I’d also bring Marcal in for Ait-Nouri to give us more experience and physical presence in the back five. Again, the young Frenchman was excellent against Palace but showed naivety against Leicester on several occasions and this is a team that demands zero mistakes defensively.
Last time out
A familiar Wolves first-half performance saw us 2-0 down at St.Mary’s before a stellar second-half comeback won us the points. I remember Southampton were on a long winning run prior to that game and had all the momentum so turning it around was a big achievement.
It was 1-1 at Molineux earlier in the season with Raul getting an equaliser from the spot in a game probably best remembered for signalling the end of Jesus Vallejo’s ill-fated Wolves career.
Nobody got the scoreline correct in the defeat at Leicester but congratulations to Graham From Horsham who leads the overall table with 11 points at the end of Gameweek 8.
As always if you’d like to join in, simply leave your prediction for this game in the comment section below, which is where you’ll find my best guess.
Up The Wolves!