SOUTHAMPTON 1-2 WOLVES
- Goals: Danny Ings (£8.4m) | Ruben Neves (£5.1m), Pedro Neto (£5.7m)
- Assists: Stuart Armstrong (£5.5m) | Nelson Semedo (£5.2m), Neves
- Bonus: Neves x3, Ings x2, Armstrong x1
A magical winner from Pedro Neto (£5.7m) condemned Southampton to a sixth consecutive league defeat, as Wolves turned around a half-time deficit to win 2-1.
It was a poor first half for Nuno Espirito Santo’s side, going behind to a sensational Danny Ings (£8.4m) volley and failing to produce a shot on target. Yet an early second-half penalty – given for a Ryan Bertrand (£5.0m) handball – was converted by Ruben Neves (£5.1m), who then assisted Neto’s tormenting of Jannik Vestergaard (£4.7m) which ended with a powerful close-range shot that curled inside Alex McCarthy’s (£4.5m) far post.
“Players like Pedro [Neto], Adama [Traore] and Daniel [Podence], their games are based on one-v-one situations and when they have space and they can do their actions, they are very difficult to stop. But I’m pleased because it was a huge moment for us, a big, big moment that Pedro gave us.” – Nuno Espirito Santo
Wolves have been struggling to score all season, especially since the long-term injury suffered by Raul Jimenez (£8.2m) in November. Neto, as their only consistent goal threat, is certainly an FPL asset to consider after steadily amassing an impressive five goals and six assists.
SAINTS’ MULTIPLE DOUBLE GAMEWEEKS
Upcoming announcements could possibly gift Southampton with three consecutive Double Gameweeks. It’s just that they are in dreadful form, with their run of defeats including a 9-0 massacre at Manchester United and a failure to equalise against the nine men of Newcastle United.
Ings had seemingly stopped the rot, declaring love to his FPL ownership by scoring a beautiful Valentine’s Day volley. Stuart Armstrong (£5.5m) carried the ball down the left blank and crossed it onto the perfectly crisp technique of Ings’ right foot.
The 28-year-old also scored when these two sides met in the FA Cup 72 hours previously. Popular at the season’s start due to his 22 goals of last season, Ings had bagged five this time until a Gameweek 7 injury at Aston Villa. Returns have been slower upon his recovery but the prospect of facing Chelsea (h) and Leeds (a) in Gameweek 25 will appeal to some.
Visits to Everton and Sheffield United follow that, potentially joined by rearranged trips to Manchester City and Tottenham. The quantity of games would be enticing, the quality of opponents not so much.
REDMOND PLAYING AS A STRIKER
A key part of the opening goal belongs to Nathan Redmond (£6.4m). He cleverly blocked Conor Coady (£4.8m) from being at the exact spot the ball was struck from, adding to the out-of-position potential given by his recent move up front alongside Ings.
It impressed Ralph Hasenhuttl during their midweek FA Cup clash. “I like him more, to be honest,” said the manager. “He gives me more deep runs and his quality on the ball causes problems for the opponent.”
In the first half, it seemed like Redmond and Takumi Minamino (£6.0m) were constantly switching their striker and left-winger roles. They linked up well in the 11th minute when Redmond cut inside and slipped in the Liverpool loanee, whose shot was saved but ultimately offside.
Redmond looked bright and was soon put through on goal by a pinpoint Armstrong pass. His pass to Ings was returned, curling a shot that was destined for the bottom corner if not for a superb Rui Patricio (£5.3m) save.
A second-half dribble set up an Armstrong long-range attempt before the latter was replaced by Che Adams (£5.8m) to put Redmond back into midfield. Adams was a popular cheap striker option in earlier months but is without a goal since December 13, so his remaining owners will be concerned by the loss of starting spot.
“We have no points, we have again lost the game, and again I don’t think we have deserved to lose, but that’s the way in the moment and we’ve got to keep on going. At the moment, we get punished for situations that are unbelievable for me.” – Ralph Hasenhuttl
Set-piece expert James Ward-Prowse (£6.0m) was again quiet in open play and the team’s defensive strengths have disappeared, not keeping a clean sheet since Gameweek 17. Since then, the Saints have conceded 20 goals in six league matches. Jan Bednarek (£4.9m) has had a particularly torrid time, totalling -7 at Old Trafford thanks to an own goal, red card and conceding nine times.
He followed with what looked like an own goal at Newcastle, although this was mercifully credited to Miguel Almiron (£5.6m). The centre-back was shown a yellow card here for fouling Neto.
WALKER-PETERS INJURED AGAIN
Things look worse for managers with Kyle Walker-Peters (£4.7m). Once of decent ownership, the right-back missed the previous four league games with a quad problem and returned here but limped off after 72 minutes.
Going forward, many will avoid buying players from either defence. Wolves may have kept two clean sheets from their last five matches but, beyond Coady and Patricio, it’s difficult to identify a nailed-on centre back. Today, goal threat Romain Saiss (£4.9m) got the nod but sometimes the budget-friendly Max Kilman (£4.0m) starts instead.
Wing-back Nelson Semedo (£5.2m) could be seen as overpriced because earning this penalty was only his second assist of the season, with Jonny (£5.4m) being eased back into action on the left side after his anterior cruciate ligament injury. The Spaniard was replaced at half-time in their two previous matches but lasted until the 72nd minute at St Mary’s.
Up front, loanee Willian Jose (£7.0m) was anonymous and is still without a goal in England.
Southampton XI (4-4-2): McCarthy; Walker-Peters (Salisu 72’), Bednarek, Vestergaard, Bertrand; Armstrong (Adams 69’), Ward-Prowse, Romeu, Minamino (Djenepo 62’); Ings, Redmond.
Wolves XI (3-4-3): Patricio; Dendoncker, Coady, Saiss; Semedo, Moutinho, Ruben Neves, Jonny (Marcal 69’); Traore, Willian Jose (Fabio Silva 89’), Neto (Kilman 90’).
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