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Southampton 1 v 2 Wolverhampton Wanderers
Barclays Premier League
Sunday, 14th February 2021 Kick-off 12:00
Southampton V Wolverhampton Wanderers The Preview
Saturday, 13th Feb 2021 10:22

Another double header and Saints fans will be hoping that it won't go the same way as the last one against Arsenal with an FA Cup victory followed by a Premier League defeat, but this time Ralph Hasenhuttl has some options and some thinking to do.

Saints came back strongly from a run of defeats to beat Wolves on Thursday and now they face the same team again, this time at St Mary's and looking to end a run of five straight Premier League defeats.

Some pundits will point to the fact that Wolves rested a few players on the bench in the FA Cup game, that did of course help Saints, but it was still a Wolves side with experience and for the best part of the final half hour the home side had all their big guns on.

But many failed to recognise that Saints were a few short of a full squad due to injury and also had a couple of players just back from injury and a debutant in the centre of defence.

So all in all it was a satisfactory win with much plus points to be taken, sadly some Saints fans on social media seem to be more keener to look at what they see as the bad things, Nathan Redmond & Moussa Djenepo have come in for a lot of stick, but the truth is they put in the effort, would Saints have won having to carry two players who were as bad as some would say, the answer is no !

Renmond had two big chances, so did Danny Ings, the difference was when in similar positions, Redmond's shot hit the keeper and was saved whilst Ings hit the keeper, rebounded on to his legs and before he had time to react went into the net off him.

So Ings got the man of the match award from BT Sports whilst Redmond got abuse on what has taken over from the toilet wall as the chance for people to hurl insults at those they don't like.

Sometimes you just have to celebrate a victory and this was one of those occasions. Most Saints supporters will do that, I would guess that all clubs have fans who always want to find the bad points, sometimes it just feels like we have more than most, luckily the majority support all the team not just their selected favourites.

Ralph Hasenhuttl has some decisions to make both in terms of who he picks and that could lead to perhaps a change in formation, Ralph used to like to use three at the back but has never had the personnel to play it, now with the emergence finally of Mohammed Salisu, he could well go back to that again at some point.

If he does that would solve one headache in whether to pick Salisu again or Jannik Vestergaard.

My feeling is that Ralph will stick with the 4-4-2 for the moment at least, we have taken a tentative step towards getting back to our form, he will not want to tinker too much until we have got our confidence restored.

If that is the case I think it will be Vestergaard in the team again and Salisu on the bench, but we now know we have a player that can be used sat there.

Other than that I expect the back four to be as normal.

Behind them is perhaps the biggest decision of the weekend for Ralph, who plays in goal ?

Ralph would not be drawn in the press conference:

"Fraser wants to stay in the cup, that's for sure. He wants to play a few more games and now, here we are."

"Give us the clean sheets and then we are set up to score."

Was that a clue as to his thinking, our defeat at Newcastle was down to some soft goals being conceded in the first half which made it a tough task in the second half, not made easier by Newcastle losing players and parking the bus,

The difference between how the defence was set up and performed in the two games played this week was chalk and cheese, Fraser Forster is a different type of goalkeeper to Alex McCarthy and his style seems to suit the way we play.

A few weeks back when we beat Arsenal in the last round, McCarthy was clear number 1 still, but in the 4 games in between the two cup ties he has clearly been out of form, Ralph has a big decision to make on this one.

But this isn't the only decision, he will surely want to bring back both Che Adams and Minamino, the obvious here would be a straight swap between them and Redmond and Djenepo, but Ralph doesn't always do obvious and I have a sneaking feeling that Adams might remain on the bench and Minamino might be deployed alongside Danny Ings with Redmond either joining him on the bench or replacing Djenepo.

I think Saints will line up as follows.

Fraser Forster

Walker Peter, Bednarek, Vestergaard, Bertrand.

Armstrong, JWP, Romeu, Minamino

Ings Adams.

Subs, McCarthy, Salisu, Redmond, Djenepo, Stephens, Tella, N' Lundulu, Watts, Chauke.

For the first time this year Ralph truly has options in every department, once he get Diallo and Walcott back off the injury list he will truly have a squad he can utilise.

Last season and at the start of this the bench wouldn't look too bad, when you only had to put out 7 subs,, but when you can have 9 it makes the squad look threadbare.

But the manager likes to work with a small squad augmented by youngsters, sometimes as we have just done you get stretched.

So a good chance here to get back to winning ways in the League as well as the cup, there is now light at the end of a tunnel, we have 5 weeks to get everyone fit, get some wins under our belts and then we take on Bournemouth for a place in the FA Cup semi finals, three years ago we reached Wembley with little enthusiasm, this time it needs to be different, we have a great manager who has turned this club around.

Photo: Action Images

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1962saint added 12:06 - Feb 13
I can't understand the constant criticism of Redmond. I like the his direct approach (like Armstrong) rather than going for any easy safety first pass backwards or sideways. Looking at our away wins last season Redmond was outstanding in most of them.
As regards our opponents on Sunday, let's hope that it's a repeat of lambs in wolves clothing.

eastcoastsaint added 12:29 - Feb 13
I’m always disappointed when I see keyboard warriors knocking Redmond. He made a few nice inroads being deployed in a more central role and I think there’s a lot more to offer once he gets a confidence boosting goal or assist.
On another note It was interesting hearing Dean Hammond recognizing Mousa Djenepos overlooked defensive work rate in recent games- known as a flair player, we’re seeing him expand his game with some disciplined defensive performances “against the ball” as Ralph likes to say

sandywelsh added 12:32 - Feb 13
I hope your right with the team Nick. That looks like the strongest team selection available at the present. After 4 clean sheets Fraser Forster should start in goal and it would be good to see Adams alongside Ings as they play well together.

felly1 added 14:13 - Feb 13
Unfortunately with no Jack Stephens to blame for every goal conceded, the more negative types amongst our supporters will have to turn to their attentions to someone else. Sadly because Redmond and Djenepo are are not the world beaters some fans seem to expect predictably they are next in the firing line.
Still on a more positive note, we seem to be back playing Ralphball and there were lots of positives to take from Thursdays win. Ings scoring, Armstrong looking great, KPW back, and we now have 4 Centre backs to pick from and Forster looking a class goalie again.

pwithers123 added 15:23 - Feb 13
Agree with all the comments defending Redmond. We really missed him when he was injured. He has tremendous ball retention under pressure. He is available as a relief when defence or midfield is under pressure. He is an outstandingly clever player. Do agree that he should get more goals - however no one can have everything.

He gets in great goal positions yet seems to not quite have that composure of goal scorers. Certainly knocking him will not help his composure/confidence

highfield49 added 18:31 - Feb 13
The biggest selection headache for the Jack Stephens fan club is who is going to play alongside him, does RH drop Vestergaard, Salisu or Bednarek?

felly1 added 21:44 - Feb 13
I think you are missing the point Highfield49. I Cant imagine they'll be many members of that particular fan club to be honest! Also he's deservedly 3th or possibly 4th in the pecking order right now .
The point is he gets unessarary abuse from our own supporters which if the players read this stuff , it's hardly going to help our cause is it?

AirFlorida added 22:27 - Feb 13
If Ralph pick Alex over FF then I will find it hard to believe in him afterwards. Alex needs reseting!! We can all see that. FF is buzzing with four clean sheets after not playing for us for years and still has a point to prove to the club that wanted nothing to do with him. And, you know what? It's nice to have a keeper who does smack it long to mix it up a bit more. We don't always have to tippy tappy out from the back only to progress to crab passing when we can't move it much further past the halfway line 🙄

theralpholution added 10:44 - Feb 14
While there is zero tolerance for the central defence on this site with an almost perpetual demand to sign a new centre back, there is endless indulgence given to Redmond. Innumerable articles have been given over to the inadequacy of the defenders, calling them championship standard, demanding a loan signing came in Jan and bizarrely looking to the return of Callum Chambers. There were rumours spread about Salisu’s injury and when we had no first team full backs, the writer arrogantly claimed that people were now beginning to see what he had seen for ‘some time’ and pointed the finger of blame at the centre backs again. And yet Redmond time and again is excused his faults. Against Newcastle, he barely tracked back, was weak in the challenge and and slow to cross. Against Wolves Ralph moved him into a second striker role and he was better but the issue remains that he has very little end product. We could say he was unlucky not to score but he hit the shot straight at Ruddy and although Ings did the same, Redmond hasn’t exactly set the world on fire with his finishing in other games. I don’t agree with berating players for the limits of their ability but if the central defence can be criticised constantly for every ‘lapse in concentration’ then Redmond’s wastefulness can be examined too.

underweststand added 11:02 - Feb 14
I think this revolves around 3 positions.
Forster has kept 4 clean sheets, (YES- one of them was v. Shrewsbury) but he also kept
0-0 v. Liverpool and Arsenal, whereas McCarthy has concede 16 in his four.
OK... I know ..Man Utd and 9 men etc, but he still seems a bit short of confidence and his showing v. Newcastle left a lot to be desired. I know Ralph has talked about FF as "his Cup goalie ", but unless he's 100% certain about A.Mc. he needs to consider carefully.

We must have Minamino back, and so that's Djenepo out of the start side, but I'd still go for Redmond up front with Ings. He hasn't impressed of late and I won't argue too much with those who criticised him, but before Ralph arrived Redmond was playing a terrific game on left wing, and scored some good goals, but after Djenepo started so well, Ralph wanted NR to play (as a number 10 - his quote) and that sort of disciplined role isn't his type of play. I see him as a sort of " free spirit " with a roving commission where he can create chances, and on another day he might have scored a couple v. Wolves last week.

Salisu's first half was a bit "iffy", but after the break he looked v. good and might have been MoM, but for Armstrong's effort. He's played v. Wolves once and sees what they have to offer. Good to have Vestergaard back, but he looked decidedly off pace in the Newcastle game, and IMHO needs a bit more time to pick up his game, so I'd go with Salisu again, (otherwise he won't get another game this season).

We all feel for Ché Adams, whose dry spell is now 13 games, and try as hard as he will... "it just a'int working ". I'd start Redmond up front, and bring on Ché as second half sub.
If that doesn't work we go back to the drawing board, as there as few other alternatives.

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Blogs 31 bloggers

Letters from Wiltshire #35 by wessex_exile
Letters from Wiltshire #34 by wessex_exile
Letters from Wiltshire #33 by wessex_exile
Letters from Wiltshire #32 by wessex_exile
Fifty years ago yesterday, Colchester United of the 4th Division pulled off the greatest cup giant-killing ever, beating 1st Division Leeds United 3-2 at Layer Road. Watched by 16,000, and the Match of the Day cameras, Dick Graham’s U’s, a rag-tag band of mostly aging journeymen, defied the odds to defeat arguably the greatest club side in Europe at the time. “The greatest cup giant-killing ever” is a bold claim, and over the years various football magazines and websites have run their own polls of which was the greatest. Whilst that day at Layer Rd always features, as the years have gone by other feats fresher in the memory have been put forward as a candidate – we probably all remember Ronnie Radford’s screamer against Newcastle, Sutton’s exploits, or even Bradford City quite recently at Stamford Bridge – but these pale into insignificance when you pause to reflect on the Don Revie side that we beat that day. Sprake, Cooper, Charlton, Hunter, Lorimer, Giles etc – all full internationals, all household names – the only one missing was Billy Bremner, and that was because he was injured. By comparison, all we had to offer was Ray Crawford – at his peak arguably on a par with some in the Leeds side, but that peak had been ten years earlier playing for Ipswich and England. Eleven heroes didn’t just try and hold out against Leeds United, they took the game to their illustrious opponents with such tenacity, grit and no small amount of flair, and before we knew it, the U’s were 3-0 in the lead. As legs tired, Leeds got back into the game with goals from Hunter and Giles, but we held firm – typified at the death by Graham Smith pulling off an impossible save to ensure the U’s achieved the greatest cup giant-killing ever!
Letters from Wiltshire #31 by wessex_exile
And so the dust settles on another transfer window closing, and despite (my) expectations that the possibility of incoming business was going to be remote, we have instead seen a veritable flurry of activity, with no less than three coming in. Big Frank Nouble, making a very welcome return on loan from Plymouth Argyle, of course needs no introduction. Neither really does feisty Brendan Sarpong-Wiredu, here on loan last season, and this time signed full-time from Charlton Athletic for an undisclosed fee. Actually paying hard cash for someone did come as a surprise, presumably offset by the sale of Cohen Bramall to Lincoln for a similarly undisclosed fee. However, the fact that the Addicks have insisted on not only a sell-on clause, but a rarely used buy-back clause too, suggests (a) Wiredu’s signing fee probably wasn’t too high, and (b) Charlton are protecting those finances with these clauses. The last one, which would have been a complete surprise for me were it not for a contact leaking me the news earlier yesterday, is left-back Josh Doherty on loan from Crawley. Josh was only announced once outgoing left-back Bramall was confirmed, and presumably his loan is directly related to part-time fashion model, TV and radio celeb and former left-back Mark Wright signing for Crawley on a non-contract game-by-game basis in December. We have also released seven from the academy, Ollie Kensdale, Miquel Scarlett, Sammie McLeod, Michael Fernandes, Ollie Sims, Danny Collinge and Matt Weaire, and I’m sure we all wish them the best for the future.

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