Four goals at Molineux, a treat from Bruno’s Wolves in another convincing victory, as they overcame a Southampton side in good form. Wolves took the opportunity to maintain pressure on those ahead of them this season, keeping those European dreams of seasons past well and truly alive. Finally, the Wolves have left their teething phase in their Prem campaign, they’re on the hunt for the top six.
Upon arrival, the team sheet probably surprised every single Wolves fan, as Neves was out with COVID and Toti Gomes was brought in for his Wolves debut. Quite the step up from the quality of opponent he was used to at Grasshoppers, nonetheless, Toti (with the ever-present support from our captain) looked like a seasoned member of the Premier League; certainly, a debut to be proud of. The reason Lage gave for not playing Leander Dendoncker at centre-back was to maintain the system they had been working on, and instead opted for the Belgian to operate from his more comfortable station if midfield.
Despite the result conveying a relatively comfortable afternoon at the office for Wolves, this was far from the truth in the first half. Southampton raced out of the blocks with an intense pressure, causing Wolves problems in possession – conceding four early corners, but these were defended confidently despite quality of delivery. A combination of poor touches and lacklustre passing frustrated fans in the first half particularly, but this was soon rectified in the second period of play, as Wolves took control of the game and highlighted the difference in quality between the two sides. Key performances from Coady, Kilman and Jose Sa kept Southampton at bay, with the away side needing a piece of alien-like brilliance to prevent yet another clean-sheet for the home side.
One performance stood out from the rest, that being the one of Michael Salisbury. That first half was possibly up there with one of the worst officiating performances I had witnessed at Molineux. Six blatant fouls weren’t given against Saints players, and it took the involvement of VAR (not hugely popular amongst the Wolves faithful) to overturn Salisbury’s original penalty decision. It’s a topic that’s discussed widely across the league, but the standard of officiating this season most notably, is deteriorating rapidly, and you know it’s poor when I mention it following a 3-1 victory.
Proceeding the VAR decision to award Wolves a penalty ten minutes before the break, Raul Jimenez calmly dispatched his fourth goal of the Premier League season; a much-needed confidence boost our star man. Not long after the break Wolves made it two, Forster was caught out as Kilman looped an effort towards the far post, before Conor Coady headed home from two yards out, and a due reward for what’s been an incredible season so far. James Ward-Prowse decided it was time for another goal of the season nomination, with the best goal I’ve ever seen live, period. This gave the Saints a foothold back into the contest, yet all hopes of a draw were ended as Adama Traore (finally) gained an ounce of composure in front of goal. The winger slotted home his first goal of the season. Even those who want him sold enjoyed that one, right?
Man of the Match – Conor Coady
No player had an outstanding performance as such, but my man of the match is his first of the season: Conor Coady. His league goal in front of the South Bank was a moment a long time coming, but the MOTOM award isn’t because of this. Coady had a young, inexperienced centre-half by his side, who had been in the country less than two weeks. I closely watched the partnership of him and Toti yesterday, and I genuinely don’t think there’s a player in the league who can make a debutant feel more comfortable in that context than Conor. Last season, Coady was a captain with incredible leadership quality, but many questioned his footballing ability. He must be in contention for most improved player of the season, leading though exemplary performances in addition to his elite mentality. What a person, what a player, what a captain.
The first half highlighted our struggle to deal with a quickly enforced press, sloppy passing and hesitation on the ball caused for too many turnovers in possession. Additionally, we had a cluster of counter attacks that demonstrated our ability to move the ball quickly and efficiently, but this wasn’t common enough. Overall, it was a good performance but there’s just an element of complacency to tidy up before Brentford. Three goals at Molineux, though, I can’t complain too much.
Sam Beeken is part of the Talking Wolves editorial team – you can follow him here