Wolves maintained their excellent start to the season with a hard-earned win against Southampton and it’s now 12 points from 7 games, a start that surely matches the expectations of even the most optimistic of supporters. They lie 8th in the league at the moment, and if they were to keep that record of points per game going for the rest of the season they would accumulate enough points to have finished 6th in last season’s table.
It was no easy win against the Saints. Wolves started the game superbly and for 15 minutes played some champagne football that could, and perhaps should, have seen them establish at least a one-goal lead. But having weathered the early storm, Southampton settled to their game and Wolves found it hard to find space in the attacking third, and for an hour it was the visitors that looked the more likely winners. But there’s quality enough in this Wolves team to see them find a way of winning, and not for the first time this season they were able to make introductions from the bench that made enough difference to turn the game in their favour.
It’s a real bonus to see so big a contribution coming from the substitutes and Traore looks the ideal impact player. Once Costa and Jota have spent 70 minutes testing and tiring the defenders, on comes the fastest player in the Premier League to exploit the weakened opposition. Him and Bonatini combined to find the winner at West Ham, Traore himself had three shots at goal in the last five minutes at Old Trafford when the hosts were trying to build up pressure to find a winner. And on Saturday Traore, who had actually been really poor for ten minutes, finally opened up the left side of the Saints defence to get to the byeline and cross for Jiminez to set up Cavaleiro for the crucial opening goal. It was Cavaleiro’s first touch of the ball in the Premier League and he now offers another threat from the bench after recovering from the back injury that has kept him out of action until this week.
It shouldn’t be thought that it’s just about waiting for the sub to arrive though. Jota was running at the Saints defence in the first half and was hacked down on a number of occasions leading to two Saints defenders having to play most of the game with a yellow card to their name. Costa also had some good early runs while Jiminez not only set up the first goal, but was unlucky to see Saints keeper McCarthy make brilliant saves in each half to thwart his attempts.
And McCarthy wasn’t the only keeper to excel on the day. Wolves have signed a keeper of the highest quality in Patricio and he made a couple of top-drawer saves, collect a host of crosses, and his excellent positioning makes a number of his saves look a lot easier then they are. Ahead of him Boly and Coady were excellent as Wolves kept a lively Saints team at bay and have now only conceded one goal in the last 380 minutes of Premier League football.
Patricio 8 – such a good keeper, can’t be many better in the Premier League.
Bennett 7 – a couple of sloppy passes on the day but that’s a small blot on his excellent season.
Coady 8 – just keeps getting better and Austin and Ings, like Lukaku and Vokes recently, got no change out of him.
Boly 9 – my man of the match. So calm under pressure and his ability to bring the ball out and set up counter attacks is key to how Wolves play.
Doherty 7 – another fine game on the right and made a great run to set up the second goal.
Moutinho 8 – hard to believe he only cost £5m, the bargain of the season.
Neves 8 – usual range of accurate long passes, and won a number of midfield tackles.
Costa 7 – had a bright opening but then struggled to find space as Southampton controlled the middle part of the game.
Jiminez 8 – set up the first goal and brought two excellent saves out of the visiting keeper.
Jota 7 – terrified the Saints defence in the opening spell with two of them earning yellow cards to stop him.
Traore 7 – gave the ball away regularly when he first came on but then made the vital run to set up the first goal.
Cavaleiro 7 – scored with his first touch in the Premier League and had a bright 15 minutes to lift Wolves to a strong finish to the game.
Bonatini came on late.
Hard to pick fault with how Wolves are playing at the moment even though they found Southampton hard to put away. The Saints will probably finish mid-table so there shouldn’t be any expectation that these are going to be easy games. It’s Palace away next Saturday before the next International break. So sadly it’s three weeks until the next Molineux game against another side that have made a fine start to the season, Watford, who come to town on the 20th.