Southampton v Wolves
Sunday 14 February, 12:00
Live on Amazon Prime Video
Same again for Saints?
It’s a quick rematch for these two following Thursday’s FA Cup tie at Molineux, a game won 2-0 in pretty convincing fashion by Southampton.
As is the norm in the FA Cup these days, both teams made plenty of changes – six for Wolves, five for Saints – and some leading figures will return here.
But is there really any reason to expect a different result, especially with Southampton now at home? They are 2.526/4 in the match result market to claim another victory.
Ralph Hasenhuttl certainly found a team for the occasion with Stuart Armstrong a particular eyecatcher having come into the side on the right side of midfield.
Saints had more of the ball and out-shot their opponents 18-5, Wolves managing just a single shot on target.
It was certainly a far cry from the 9-0 hammering at Old Trafford which, it should be remembered, came when playing with 10 men for 88 minutes.
Hasenhuttl’s men bounced back well from a similar result against Leicester last season and they appeared to have it out of their system at Molineux. They should also have taken something from last weekend’s trip to Newcastle.
Admittedly, the number of goals they’ve been conceding is worrying but Jannik Vestergaard only returned from injury last week and he’ll add stability here and in the coming weeks.
His absence co-incided with Southampton’s bad run – they’ve now lost five in a row in the league – but he played a key part in some strong defensive performance earlier in the campaign.
Saints have actually kept six clean sheets in their 11 home games and it’s not that long since they shut-out (and beat) champions Liverpool at St Mary’s. In matches against the teams currently below them, they won all three without conceding.
Wolves struggling for goals
With Wolves – 3.259/4 to win the game – looking toothless right now, that’s definitely a potential way in to this contest.
Wolves’ current form looks to be their worst since their return to the top flight.
They’ve now won just one of their last 10 in the league, while most worrying has been their attacking force, or lack of it. Yes, Pedro Neto and Adama Traore will likely return to the starting XI here but they’ve been in it in recent weeks with little success.
The men in old gold have scored only three goals in their last six games in all competitions. Two of those were against 10-man Arsenal (who later went down to nine) and the other against non-league Chorley, a game they were frankly fortunate to win.
Low goals angle
Away from Molineux, Wolves have failed to score in six of their 11 league matches so clearly there’s potential in backing a Southampton win to nil at 3.7511/4.
However, given the lack of wriggle room in that bet, I prefer Southampton to win and under 3.5 goals in the match at 3.02/1.
Saints haven’t scored more than twice in their last 13 games, while in the league last weekend’s game at Newcastle for the first time in 10 that they’ve netted more than once.
The Saints/Under 2.5 goals option is at 4.77/2 – and was seriously considered – but the smaller-priced option keeps the 2-1 result onside, allowing Wolves to score once and retaining the possibility of a winner.
Under 2.5 goals as a single is at 1.684/6, showing you have the layers think about the likelihood of a goal-fest.
Nik the shots value
My other bet for this game comes in the Sportsbook’s shots markets with the aforementioned Vestergaard looking good value for a shot on target at 21/10.
The 6ft 6in Dane, likely to return in place of Mohammed Salisu who enjoyed a shaky debut on Thursday, has managed this in six of his last 10 games and is a clear threat from set-plays.
That’s an area in which Wolves have been poor defensively this season – they are in the top five for goals conceded from set pieces.
The absence of Willy Boly hurts them further on that front for this match and I’d expect the delivery of James Ward-Prowse to cause them problems here.
Vestergaard will be a regular target in such situations and his track record in this market makes the price too big to ignore.
Southampton are the only team to play a Premier League match on Valentine’s Day but not receive a card, with no Saints player receiving a yellow or red card in their 4-2 win over Liverpool in February 1994. All other 15 teams to feature in a Premier League game on that day have had at least one card.