Wolves v Southampton: Saints can advance their top four claims in Molineux clash

Andrew Atherley expects another strong showing from Ralph Hasenhuttl's side when they travel to Wolves in the Premier League on Monday night...

Wolves v Southampton
Monday 23 November, 20:00
Live on Sky Sports

Selection issues

Wolves went into the international break off the back of a 1-0 defeat at Leicester, one of their key rivals if they want to break the usual monopoly of the top four places at the end of the season.

That was their first loss since a wobbly start to the season that saw them beaten 3-1 at home by Manchester City and 4-0 away by West Ham in September.

Prior to the Leicester defeat, their mini-run of form was W3 D1 L0, although three of those four games were against sides that were in the bottom eight going into the international break.

Nuno Espirito Santo has some selection issues following the break.

Conor Coady's hopes of making a 122nd consecutive league appearance hang in the balance after he was forced to leave the England squad due to Covid protocols. Romain Saiss is on standby.

Leander Dendoncker picked up a knee injury on international duty with Belgium and is unlikely to feature, but Rayan Ait-Nouri is expected to recover from the knock that put him out of France's under-21 squad.

Strong form

Southampton have emerged as a surprise contender for a European place, having gone into the break sitting in fourth place.

Their form looks strong, given that five of their first eight games were against other in-form teams from the top eight in the early table.

Ralph Hasenhuttl has fashioned a hard-working, tactically astute side whose main strength has been their counter-attacking ability on the road, which makes them a dangerous proposition here.

James Ward-Prowse is expected to be fit after a hamstring injury ruled him out of international duty and Ryan Bertrand is also back after a thigh issue.

Top scorer Danny Ings remains out after knee surgery last month.

Big test of home defence

The steadying of Wolves' form after their September losses was founded on a re-tightening of their game plan and all five games since then have had under 2.5 goals.

Their four wins this season have been 1-0 or 2-0 and, in fact, you have to go back to the 3-2 win at Tottenham on March 1 to find a Wolves victory where the opposition scored.

Since lockdown, their nine Premier League wins have all been to nil - 1-0 (four), 2-0 (four) and 3-0 (one). A Wolves win to nil is priced at 3.75 and is clearly a good way to back them.

Coady is the linchpin of the defence and his availability could be a key factor.

Even with him, this will be a significant test of Wolves' resolve, as Southampton have been one of the best away teams in 2020. Their away record in that time is W7 D3 L3, bettered only by Manchester United, and they have scored in 11 of those 13 matches.

The only home teams to shut them out in that run are Liverpool last season (4-0) and Crystal Palace (1-0) in the opening game of this campaign.

It is possible to argue that Wolves are in the same mould as Palace - a tight counter-attacking side - and this match will examine whether Southampton have improved enough to break down opponents of that type.

On their own overall form, Southampton have a reasonable chance of victory at 3.5. They have scored in 20 of their 23 away games since the start of last season and, in the 12 months since this equivalent weekend last season, their record when scoring on the road is W9 D4 L2.

The stats indicate the outcome could boil down to whether Wolves keep a clean sheet. Given that Southampton under Hasenhuttl have scored in all three games against Wolves (one win, one draw and one defeat), the visitors look a decent play.

The recommendation is Southampton off 0 on the Asian handicap at 2.44, which allows for the possibility of Wolves playing another tight match.

Saints could push up goals

Both teams rank high for matches with under 2.5 goals this season. Wolves have had six out of eight (75%) below that mark and Southampton have had five (63%).

Wolves also ranked high at 63% under 2.5 goals at home last season and under 2.5 goals is favourite at 1.71.

Southampton's figures are higher on the road, however. Since the start of last season, 14 of their 23 away games (61%) have gone over 2.5 goals.

The Saints have scored in 20 of those 23 away games and that opens up the possibility of a higher-scoring match.

Over 2.5 goals carries a risk given Wolves' record but is worth considering at 2.36.

Dead-ball threat

Ward-Prowse is a big threat from dead-ball situations and it could be worth combining him to score with another option from the Same Game Multi on the Betfair Sportsbook.

A big-priced possible is Ward-Prowse to score and Southampton to win by exactly two goals, which is available at more than 45-1.

Five of Southampton's last nine away wins have been by exactly two goals.

Opta Stat

No side has scored more first-half goals in the Premier League this season than Southampton, with Saints' 10 goals before half-time more than opponents Wolves in total so far this term (8). Southampton are 5.6 on the Half Time/Full Time.

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