Southampton vs Wolverhampton Wanderers: Pre-match analysis
SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 18: A general view ahead of the Premier League match between Southampton FC and Wolverhampton Wanderers at St Mary's Stadium on January 18, 2020 in Southampton, United Kingdom. (Photo by Matt Watson/Southampton FC via Getty Images)

Southampton will host Wolverhampton Wanderers this Sunday at noon in the Premier League, with both sides desperate for a win to curb their recent poor run of forms. 

VAVEL UK provides a pre-match analysis ahead of the game for both sides, with their FA Cup clash now firmly behind them. 

  • A fixture that normally sees goals

Both sides have a rich history between each other, with Sunday's game being their 70th competitive meeting. Southampton have been the victors on slightly more occasions, with the Saints having a win percentage of around 41% to Wolves' 33%, with 26% ending in draws.

Looking at the last few seasons in which both sides have been in the Premier League tells a slightly different story. In the last five league meetings, Wolves have been victorious on two occasions, with Southampton only managing to win once. 

At least two goals have been scored in each of those five games, with two of the fixtures ending 1-1. There has only been one clean sheet, which was Wolves' 2-0 win in their first league meeting since 2009. 

Embed from Getty Images

Perhaps most memorably, both sides played out a 2-3 encounter in January of last year, with Wolves just about edging Southampton out. 

  • Saints in free-fall

The Saints are definitely having a season of two halves, with the side on a dismal run of one win in ten games in the league. The win oddly came against the defending champions Liverpool. It is polar opposite to the first half of the season, in which the Saints were in around the top six.

Southampton have conceded 20 goals in those last ten league games, averaging two goals conceded per game. They have also only managed to score five goals in that time, averaging only one goal every two games.

Embed from Getty Images

One game in particularly that represented a low point for the Saints was the 9-0 drubbing by Manchester United. The side are in free-fall at the moment, but manager Ralph Hasenhuttl will be more optimistic of his side's chances to turn things around against Wolves on Sunday, who themselves are finding life in the Premier League difficult this season.

  • Nuno's big gamble

Nuno Espirito Santo played a very risky hand in resting some of his key players in Thursday evening's FA Cup defeat to the Saints. A lot of comparisons were drawn to when Mick McCarthy did something very similar in 2012, with Wolves being knocked out of the cup by Birmingham City after making ten changes.

McCarthy's side went on to lose their next game against Aston Villa, with ex-golden boy Robbie Keane grabbing a brace to haunt his old stomping ground. Wolves will be hoping that history does not repeat itself this time around, especially seeing as the side were relegated at the end of that season!

Things at the moment are not as vibrant at the Molineux like in Nuno's two previous seasons. Weirdly enough, Wolves have also only won once in their last ten fixtures, which came in a 2-1 against an Arsenal side, who ended the game with nine men on the field.

Embed from Getty Images

The men from Molineux have conceded 14 goals in those last ten fixtures, with three of those goals coming in the Black Country Derby against West Bromwich Albion. Wolves have managed to score ten goals in those ten games, meaning they have scored on average, one goal a game.

Nuno should have no excuses not to play a strong side, with huge pressure on him to come away from St Mary's with a win now, following their disappointing FA Cup exit. Neither team are lighting up the league at the moment, so Sunday's clash gives both sides a great opportunity to kick-start a resurgence in form.

We may however, be facing the first game between the two sides in recent years that will end with less than two goals. With Wolves struggling to score no more than one, they may need to keep a clean sheet to have any chance of victory.

  • Ings and Ward-Prowse to provide the firepower

With the Saints putting out a strong lineup on Thursday, it will be interesting to see what Hasenhuttl does with regards to team selection on Sunday. What is very likely, is that they will lineup 4-4-2, a formation they have consistently used for a while. 

The sight of Danny Ings on the score sheet on Thursday will have given Southampton fans hope that their star striker is back in form. Although the goal came with a lot of luck, it still crossed the line and Ings will still be a major threat to the Wolves back-line. 

Embed from Getty Images

Midfield, Stuart Armstrong, was extremely dangerous down the right hand side on Thursday, even grabbing a goal late on to cap off an impressive display. 

Oriol Romeu will be expected to start again to give the Saints that extra bit of grit in the middle of the park. Wolves will have to be careful not to give away any free-kicks around the penalty area, as captain, James Ward-Prowse, has an exceptional talent in converting them into goals for the Saints.

  • Wolves game-changers rested and ready to go

The key players for Wolves for Sunday are the players that did not start on Thursday. New signing, Willian Jose, should be given the nod, with Fabio Silva failing to shine last time out. The Brazilian is still without a goal in his four Premier League appearances so far, but has shown glimpses of quality and will be eager to finally get on the score sheet.

Embed from Getty Images

Pedro Neto should also be returning to the start lineup, with the young Portuguese arguably being Wolves' best player this season. With Jose to now aim for in the box, Neto will be very eager to link up with the new man and get Wolves firing again.

Another man missing on Thursday who can easily change a game is Adama Traore. The Spaniard has not found the same form as last year, most likely as he his missing his partner in crime in Raul Jimenez. Still, teams need to double up, or even triple up on Traore, showing that he is a danger that needs to be dealt with.

A very divisive figure amongst fans this season has been Nelson Semedo. The wing-back though has quietly been putting in some fantastic performances of late and is slowly beginning to win the fans around. If he can effectively click with Traore, Wolves would be near enough unstoppable down that right hand side.

Embed from Getty Images

  • In summary

Both teams are clearly out of form and in dire need of a win. The fixture has recently been full of goals, but with both sides struggling in front of goal, just the one goal could be the difference.

With Nuno opting to rest key players in the recent match between the two sides, he will be hoping that his gamble will give his side the edge. A defeat will make the FA Cup defeat even more disappointing for fans.

Embed from Getty Images

Buoyed by their recent victory over the men in old gold, Southampton will be high in spirits going into the game. As the Saints named a strong side on Thursday, a big question will be on how Hasenhüttl's side deal with another game in such short time.

It should be another tight affair, but it all depends which Wolves side turns up. Both sides are essentially there for the taking.