Southampton vs Wolves preview: This will be as tough as facing Liverpool, says Ralph Hasenhuttl
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Last Updated: 13/04/19 8:17am
Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl has warned Wolves will provide just as tough a test in their Premier League survival battle as title challengers Liverpool.
The Saints put some daylight between themselves and the bottom three after successive wins over Tottenham and Brighton, before being beaten 3-1 at home by the Reds.
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Wolves will be out to put the disappointment of their FA Cup semi-final extra-time defeat against Watford behind them by continuing their push for a top-seven finish.
It has been a remarkable campaign for Nuno Espirito Santo's side, who have continued upward momentum following promotion from the Championship.
Hasenhuttl knows it will take another impressive display from his team to continue the fight to keep clear of the relegation zone.
"It's a very strong opponent, one of the best organised teams in the league. They have made a fantastic job this year, beating a lot of big teams also," the Southampton boss said.
"They play in a similar shape to what we do, and it will be a very interesting game, tactically for us, so not an easy game.
"They showed that they have a clear plan, also good players, they can fill the plan with life.
"The whole way they want to play is a very successful one at the moment. It is not a coincidence that they are so high in the table."
Hasenhuttl said at a press conference reported by the club: "We know that is not easier than maybe the last games were for us.
"It was very tough against Liverpool, it was against Tottenham very tough at home, but for me, Wolves is not easier."
Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo has called on his players to move on swiftly from last weekend's FA Cup semi-final loss to Watford.
Leading 2-0 with 11 minutes remaining at Wembley, Wolves ultimately missed out on a first FA Cup final appearance since 1960.
A trip to Marbella for warm weather may have helped ease the disappointment, and the club are still in the hunt to finish seventh, which could be enough to secure European football.
"We are a squad that wants to compete, so the result doesn't change our approach. You have to learn from all of these moments. What we feel now is pride, we're proud of what we have achieved, but we have to move forward.
"Southampton are a really good team with good players and a good manager. They are a tough team, especially at home. It'll be a tough challenge. No matter who you face, you always have to be prepared."
Southampton will have forward Danny Ings available for the Premier League match against Wolves.
Ings was not eligible to face parent club Liverpool last weekend, when Shane Long led the attack.
Midfielder Mario Lemina (abdominal) and forward Michael Obafemi (thigh) both remain sidelined.
Rui Patricio will return in goal for Wolves when they resume Premier League action against Southampton at St Mary's.
John Ruddy was between the posts at Wembley last weekend as Wanderers suffered FA Cup heartbreak, letting a two-goal lead slip to lose 3-2 to Watford in the semi-final after extra time.
Another potential change to the starting line-up could see Ryan Bennett recalled in defence.
- This will be just the second time Southampton will host Wolves in a Premier League match, with the only other such meeting coming in September 2003; Saints won 2-0 thanks to a James Beattie brace.
- After 17 matches without a victory (P17 W0 D7 L10), Wolves have beaten Southampton in each of their last four meetings in all competitions, keeping clean sheets in their most recent three.
- Only Aston Villa (42) and West Ham United (44) have lost more Premier League games against newly-promoted sides than Southampton (37), who have lost five of their last six such matches (W1).
- Southampton have dropped a league-high 23 points from winning positions in the Premier League this season, 15 of which have come in games at St Mary's.
- Southampton have won five of their 12 Premier League games so far in 2019 (D3 L4). They only won six in the whole of 2018 in the competition (P37 W6 D13 L18).
- Wolves haven't kept a clean sheet in any of their last 12 Premier League away games, and are without a win in their last four on the road (D2 L2).
- Southampton striker Charlie Austin has scored in two of his three league appearances against Wolves (two goals), including in his last home match against them for Burnley back in November 2012.
- Wolves' Raul Jimenez has been directly involved in 19 Premier League goals this season (12 goals, 7 assists). The last non-British/Irish player to record 20+ goal involvements for a promoted side in the competition was Peter Odemwingie for West Brom in 2010-11 (15 goals, 7 assists).
- Raul Jimenez has been directly involved in 48% of Wolves' 40 Premier League goals this season (12 goals, 7 assists) - only Eden Hazard (49%) has been involved in a higher share of his team's goals.
- Southampton's Shane Long scored just his second Premier League goal of the season in his 20th appearance against Liverpool last time out. He last scored in back-to-back games in the competition in May 2016.
It's a question of whether or not Wolves have an FA Cup hangover. How are they going to feel after being 2-0 up with 10 minutes or so to go against Watford?
They threw that away, and I don't know how they're thinking. They'll probably never get another better opportunity than that to reach an FA Cup final. I fancy Southampton.
They're better than where they are in the table. And I think Wolves will be just devastated.
PAUL PREDICTS: 2-1