Southampton travel to Wolverhampton Wanderers on Monday evening looking for the win which would keep the club in the top four of the Premier League standings.Wolves welcome the Saints on the back of a 1-0 defeat at Leicester City, a result which has left Nuno Espirito Santo’s side in ninth position. Watch Live Free!
Still, in this bizarre era, it is more time than most teams have had following the final international break of 2020, and the onus is on stepping things up against Southampton, writes Joe Edwards.
Against Leicester last time out, Nuno Espirito Santo’s lot put in a rather flat display and – controversial penalty call aside – did not really deserve anything at the King Power.
And they will know more is required against the Saints, who are one of the Premier League’s form teams.
They may be missing star striker Danny Ings, but Ralph Hasenhuttl’s charges have caught the eye with their energetic, high-pressing and, ultimately, entertaining football.
With five wins, a draw and two losses to their name so far, they come into the clash full of confidence.
Wolves, meanwhile, are still finding their way this season.
After beginning the season with defeats to Crystal Palace and Tottenham Hotspur, no-one would have predicted that Southampton would record 16 points from their next half-a-dozen fixtures.
However, the Saints are good value for their recent resurgence, mixing up professional displays with clean sheets alongside ruthless showings in the final third.
The continued absence of Danny Ings is a blow ahead of this contest, but Ralph Hasenhuttl no longer needs to place extra reliance on the club’s top goalscorer.
James Ward-Prowse and Che Adams are regularly chipping in with goals and assists, while a number of capitulations at the back have not dented the confidence of the defence.
Hasenhuttl will demand more from his side, especially against such a well-organised Wolves side, but the South Coast outfit will be confident that they can add a sixth success in seven on Monday evening.
Although Wolves have had their moments this season, Nuno will have concerns about the development of a team which has needed to adapt to a couple of major departures.
While there was excitement following their first-half display against Crystal Palace, the West Midlands outfit barely laid a glove on Leicester in their final game ahead of the international break.
Nuno has previously suggested that he will move his side away from playing on the counter-attack, but supporters are unlikely to see a style change for a triple-header versus Southampton, Arsenal and Liverpool.