Southampton 3-1 Wolves: Five Things We Learned

By Adam Virgo

 

Wolves ended up with a disappointing 3-1 away defeat at Southampton yesterday which means no win on the road since the Everton game in February. Here are 5 things that I took away from yesterday’s game.
Jota against Southampton

Potential FA Cup hangover?

First of all, this will never be proved but physically and mentally, last week’s defeat in the FA Cup Semi Final would no doubt have taken it out of the players completely and seemed to have some sort of effect on yesterday’s performance. It is understandable though because they worked so hard to get where they got and to lose how they did would be difficult for any player, however, football can be unforgiving at times and whenever you’re down the negatives always seem worse than maybe they actually are.

Whenever your confidence is low you end up doing things you don’t normally do and that’s how it felt yesterday because defensively, we are never that bad and in possession, we gave the ball away stupidly, especially for a period after Nathan Redmond scored his second. We worked hard to get back into the game and deserved the equaliser so to concede so quickly afterwards probably knocked it out of the players, especially with last week’s heart-break potentially on their minds also.

Hopefully, the Marbella break will do the players a lot of good, giving them time to just completely refresh themselves and get focused on the last five games because we still have a fantastic chance of finishing seventh and getting European football.
 

Conceding early/first in away games makes everything so much more difficult

I know this is stating the obvious but in our last two away games in the Premier League (Southampton and Burnley) we have conceded in the opening two minutes and we have gone on to lose both. Going away to those sides where their home form is so important for staying in the Premier League and then conceding within two minutes just gives you an even bigger mountain to climb.

Conceding first against a side near the bottom makes everything more difficult because the longer the game goes on when you’re behind, they inevitably waste more time compared to a top-six side taking the lead. We have come back to beat Tottenham, United and Chelsea from losing positions this season but those sides always push on to score more goals and even when we’re behind, it still suits our playing style a lot more than going a goal down against the likes of Huddersfield, Southampton, Burnley etc. due to their mentality.

Even yesterday early in the second half Southampton were clever in slowing the game down and not allowing us space because until they scored their third, we had so much of the ball but without creating too much which has been a problem for us more often than not and we are a lot more effective when having less possession and being able to counter-attack.
 

The options on the bench aren’t effective enough

In all fairness, I can’t really blame anyone for this too much because it is our first season back in the Premier League and it’s not exactly easy to get players of the same calibre as our starting XI to be on the bench. However, it is something we do need to address in the summer because the players we are bringing on aren’t anywhere near as good as the players who start, except for Vinagre who is a wing back and can’t exactly always impact a game from that position.

If we do get into Europe, then our squad needs to be much bigger and the attacking options especially need to be better than what they currently are. Not just in attack though, I believe we need improvements in the right centre back position and I’m sure Nuno is aware of that. Due to playing Saiss in defence too means we have no midfield options except for Morgan Gibbs-White who, apart from the Chelsea and Spurs home games, has been far too ineffective but maybe that’s down to his inexperience, however, he does need to improve a lot because potential can only go so far.

Nuno doesn’t seem to trust the attacking subs too much, more-so in the recent months because it changes all the time on whether Cavaleiro, Traore or Costa come on but I can’t blame him for that because neither of them are really doing enough in a creative/goalscoring sense to warrant coming on all the time, although Traore has been the best out of the three from an overall performance perspective in my opinion.
 

Willy Boly is now our third highest goal scorer in the Premier League this season

Willy Boly has scored four goals in the league this season making him our third highest goal scorer in the competition. This surely means our attacking options in Cavaleiro, Traore and Costa, who have scored five goals between them, aren’t doing enough in that sense. A big problem of this is with 3-5-2, none of those three can play as a second striker so to bring them on we have to change to a 3-4-3 as they are all out and out wingers.

Due to this I can see Cav and Costa being sold in the summer with Traore being given another chance which I believe he deserves as his direct runs, especially against sides that sit deeper, can be very effective at times but his end product can obviously improve. His ability to be able to beat any player gives him the edge over Cavaleiro and Costa, and also the fact he can be used at wing back if needs be.
 

Our next two games are at home which is ideal

We haven’t lost at home since Jan 2 when we got beat 2-0 by Crystal Palace. We have fared better against the so-called ‘lower’ sides when playing them at Molineux compared to away from home. The players have a break in Marbella which I believe has come at the perfect time and going into Brighton and Arsenal at home, it’s a great chance for us to pick up four points at least to get back on track.

Brighton are on bad form at the moment and also have a huge game midweek against Cardiff which they cannot afford to lose so I think that could play into our hands come Saturday and providing we can score first I am confident we will win the game. Arsenal have away problems and also have Europa League this Thursday away at Napoli meaning they will have had an extra game over us, and they’ll also play on Sunday next weekend which means their rest days in between games will be less.

Both still going to be tough games with Brighton fighting to stay up and Arsenal pushing for a top-four spot but they are fantastic opportunities to pick up points to push for seventh place.
 

Adam Virgo is a Talking Wolves blogger and sports writer. You can follow him here.

 

Images: AMA/Sam Bagnall

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