Premier League football is finally on the horizon, and in preparation, we’re previewing Southampton's weekend trip to Wolves, in association with eToro...
Wolverhampton Wanderers vs Southampton
Saturday 19th October, 3.00pm BST
Referee: Peter Bankes
Assistants: Ian Hussin, Peter Kirkup
Fourth Official: Jeremy Simpson
VAR: Kevin Friend
Assistant VAR: Adrian Holmes
WHICH KIT WILL SAINTS BE WEARING?
Saturday marks the debut of Saints' white and red third kit. It's paired with white shorts and red and white hooped socks.
WHAT’S AT STAKE?
Saints will be chomping at the bit to get back to Premier League action following the international break, particularly because their last game ended in home defeat to in-form Chelsea.
Wolves, similarly, will be ready and waiting for the return of domestic football with two wins in their last two played, including an impressive 2-0 success at champions Manchester City.
Despite contrasting fortunes in terms of recent form, a win for Ralph Hasenhüttl’s men would see them draw level on points with the hosts - although Saints would trail narrowly on goal difference.
Maximum spoils, should it happen, could also signal a jump as high as 12th in the Premier League table, if other results go Saints' way.
At the beginning of the season, Nuno Espirito Santo and his men were tipped to push the so-called top six - to once again be in the running for European football - and although their early season form suggested otherwise, recent results could indeed spark a u-turn in fortunes.
Unbeaten since Diogo Jota's last-gasp winner at Crystal Palace in September (as well as producing fruitful performances away at Beşiktaş and Man City), Wolves are most certainly on the rise. A win tomorrow would lift them into seventh, meaning the hunt for top-six glory may well be back on.
For different reasons, this game is vital for both sides.
Moussa Djenepo and Cédric remain sidelined, the manager confirmed during the week. Recent Premier League Goal of the Month winner Djenepo is still recovering from a reoccurring tendon injury, while the Portuguese has a calf problem.
Generally speaking, all of Southampton's international representatives have returned to the south coast unscathed.
Pierre-Emile Højbjerg, Maya Yoshida, Jan Bednarek, Kevin Danso, Stuart Armstrong and Michael Obafemi all featured for their respective countries during the international window, but have all been involved in preparation for Saturday’s trip to Molineux.
Man City (a) W 2-0 (Traore 2)
Beşiktaş (a) W 1-0 (Boly) Europa League
Watford (h) W 2-0 (Doherty, Janmaat (OG))
Reading (h) D 1-1 (4-2 pens) (Jordao) Carabao Cup
Crystal Palace (a) D 1-1 (Jota)
Chelsea (h) L 1-4 (Ings)
Tottenham (a) L 1-2 (Ings)
Portsmouth (a) W 4-0 (Ings x2, Soares, Redmond) Carabao Cup
Bournemouth (h) L 1-3 (Ward-Prowse pen)
Sheffield United (a) W 1-0 (Djenepo)
Ralph Hasenhüttl: "It was good that we had a lot of players here [during the international break]. We had an intense week, the players were hard working and now the international players are back without injuries which is always good.
"They [Wolves] had a difficult start with a team that is the same as last season; a good committed team, a well organised team. We had a game here at St Mary's [last season] where we won 3-1. We scored very early and with good goals. Then the second half they were in possession and we defended in a committed way. This is also the key for this game."
Nuno Espírito Santo: "They are [Southampton] a very good team. Start of the competition [they] were not so good but it's a very good team with very good players. A good manager.
"They have a good idea there, very consistent, they have speed. It's going to be a big, big challenge for us."
ONE TO WATCH
Danny Ings: Local-lad Danny Ings is feeling right at home at St Mary’s following a permanent move to the south coast in the summer of 2019.
Finding the net in each of Saints’ last three games (in all competitions), the 27-year-old may well feel that the international break fell at precisely the wrong time, just as his scoring momentum was beginning to build.
Nevertheless, with five goals and one assist in just shy of 450 minutes this season, he is the club's most potent threat in front of goal, and one that manager Hasenhüttl deems vital to Saints' productivity in the final third.
Adama Traore: Spanish born starlet Adama Traore has had a relatively quiet start to his time at Wolves, since joining on a five-year-deal in August 2018.
However, his significance shot up when a second-half double helped Wolves stun the Etihad crowd with 2-0 win a fortnight ago, leaving Liverpool eight points clear at the top.
A mixture of pace and power, Traore's talent arrives in fits and spurts, but he's a certain match-winner on his day. Two goals and two assists in his last three games have come at the right time for Wolves, whose uplift in form is, in part, testament to the striker's recent influence.
All competitions in 2019/20
Danny Ings: 5
Moussa Djenepo: 2
Nathan Redmond: 2
Sofiane Boufal: 2
Kevin Danso: 1
Danny Ings: 1
Raul Jimenez: 2
Adama Traore: 2
Willy Boly: 1
Raul Jimenez: 2
Willy Boly: 1
Adama Traore: 1
HEAD TO HEAD
LAST FIVE MEETINGS
APRIL 2019: Saints 3-1 Wolves (Redmond 2, Long) (Premier League)
SEPTEMBER 2018: Wolves 2-0 Saints (Premier League)
AUGUST 2017: Saints 0-2 Wolves (EFL Cup)
APRIL 2009: Wolves 3-0 Saints (Championship)
NOVEMBER 2008: Saints 1-2 Wolves (Pearce) (Championship)
DID YOU KNOW?
- No Premier League side have kept more away clean sheets in all competitions this season than Southampton (4). Saints have kept four clean sheets in six away games this term – just two fewer than they’d kept in 23 on the road last season.
- Following last week’s heroics at the Etihad, Wolves have picked up 20 points against the so-called ‘big six’ since August 2018; only Liverpool and Manchester City have more (25 and 26 respectively)
NOT AT THE GAME?
Don’t worry if you can’t make it to Molineux Stadium – we’ve got you covered! We’ll bring you all of the action, as well as a host of behind-the-scenes access.
Check out our interactive match centre at southamptonfc.com, with all of the live in-game updates and free audio commentary of the match, and be sure to follow us on social media for further updates and exclusive content.