Alan Dudman landed all three bets on Tuesday with Southampton's win against Brentford earning a 4pt profit, and he returns to look at the Saints again as they travel to Wolves on Saturday...
"Fifteen of their 22 games in all competitions have hit Under 2.5, but it's at Molineux where the fortress really is made of stone with just seven conceded and five scored."
In defence of Lage's mean Wolves
Only Manchester City (13) have conceded fewer Premier League goals this season than Wolves (14). Excluding penalties, Wolves are the only side yet to concede a goal from a set-piece situation in the Premier League this term. That sort of base hasn't exactly made for exciting viewing this term in relation to goals, but they've garnered some good results against big teams thanks to some defensive masterclasses, albeit low-scoring ones, as 15 of their last 16 Premier League wins have been by a margin of just one goal, with the exception being a 2-0 victory at Watford earlier this season.
Bruno Lage's 3-5-2 can translate into a 5-3-2 or a 5-3-1-1 and their recent 0-0 against Chelsea highlighted how difficult they are to break down. Ruben Neves, Leander Dendoncker and Joao Moutinho excelled in the midfield, with plenty of pressure applied from the front two. Chelsea were forced out wide with the Wolves' banks, and they are not an easy team to play against.
The hosts are in a decent min-run with no defeat in their last four and they successfully negotiated an FA Cup third round tie with Sheffield United last weekend to record an easy 3-0 and lie in eighth position with 28 - just three off Manchester United, and back-to-back wins could see them level up with the Red Devils.
Adama Traore continues to be linked with Tottenham, but put simply, his style doesn't suit the Lage system of using inverted wingers in the compact eleven.
Can Saints push into top 10?
Southampton's very solid home form was more than enough to see off a beatable Brentford team on Tuesday night, and the 4-1 success at St Mary's meant that all three of my bets previewing that game were landed. The Over 1.5 Goals in the first half copped inside 37 minutes at 3.02/1. If only every bet were as easy. I am sure the new owner Dragan Solak was pleased too.
Facing the Wolves defence won't be as simple, as the Bees have conceded the first goal in 13 Premier League games this season, only woeful Norwich have shipped in more (15). However, as the goals flowed like the Orinoco, it was the first time in 78 matches that Southampton have scored four or more goals in a Premier League game at St Mary's. The victory maintained their mid-table position, and that's only nine conceded at home all term, with just one defeat on the coast.
However, the away form is troubling, as are their inconsistencies on the road. Their game is usually of high-intensity with energy and manager Ralph Hasenhuttl tried a new shape in midweek, that was pulled off with aplomb.
He was without Moussa Djenepo, Tino Livramento, Alex McCarthy, Thierry Small, Yan Valery and Kyle Walker-Peter against the west Londoners. But Che Adams made a triumphant return following his spell of isolation.
Stuart Armstrong has been a key man in Saints converting draws into wins, as Adrian Clarke pointed out in his tactical preview prior to Tuesday night, and when the Scot is available to start, Southampton have won 42 per cent of their matches, compared to just 7.7 per cent when he doesn't.
On the head-to-head it's fairly even, which is reflective of the betting at 2.47/5 for the hosts and 3.55/2 for the visitors. Wolves lead 4-3 historically with two clean sheets to one, and we might expect a narrow win for the Old Gold again judged on the meeting between the pair back in September. Wolves earned the points thanks to a solitary strike from Raul Jimenez - his first since suffering the life-threatening fractured skull suffered in late 2020.
The goal came from a long pump forward, but defences dominated and Southampton barely had a shot in the first half. At the time Hasenhuttl's team were drawing a lot of games, and it's a tag they are still struggling to shake off. That win means Wolves are looking to complete their first top-flight double over Southampton since 1971-72, while they last won three in a row against Saints in the top tier in October 1970.
- Wolverhampton Wanderers 3 1 Southampton
- Wolverhampton Wanderers 3 0 Sheffield United
- Manchester United 0 1 Wolverhampton Wanderers
- Arsenal 0 0 Wolverhampton Wanderers
- Wolverhampton Wanderers 0 0 Watford
- Wolverhampton Wanderers 0 0 Chelsea
- Wolverhampton Wanderers 3 1 Southampton
- Southampton 4 1 Brentford
- Swansea City 1 1 Southampton
- Southampton 0 0 Newcastle United
- Southampton 1 1 Tottenham Hotspur
- West Ham United 2 3 Southampton
Can we back the hosts at 2.47/5 knowing the Saints are so inconsistent? Well Opta stats certainly point us to that bet as Wanderers have lost just one of their last 11 league games against Saturday's opponent (W6 D4) and have found the net in each of their last 10 against Saints.
I think that's a fair price, as since late November they have only been defeated twice - and those two were 1-0 losses against Manchester City and Liverpool. They even held Chelsea 0-0, and one thing the you can rely on with the hosts is a sound defence.
They have shipped in just seven at Molineux all season - second best to both City and the Red on six.
Wolves have cultivated a reputation for an Under 2.5 team this term, which is why the layers are offering 1.674/6 on that bet to land on Saturday - which is too short to get involved with, and I am neither a layer myself. Fifteen of their 22 games in all competitions have hit Under 2.5, but it's at Molineux where the fortress really is made of stone with just seven conceded and five scored. Seven of the nine at home are 2.5 games, but six of nine have been Under 1.5, and that's a bet I am keen to take at around 2/1.
Southampton slightly cloud the issue with their 21 conceded on the road, but none of Wolves' last eight Premier League games have seen more than one goal scored (3x 1-0 wins, 3x 0-0 draws, 2x 1-0 defeats), with only Burnley having a longer such run in the competition (9 between April 2015 and August 2016).
We should also consider the Correct Score 0-0 as a trade out bet starting from 9.08/1 and to lay back your stake at around 7.06/1 or 6.5011/2.
Jiminez the one for the Betbuilder?
My Southampton v Brentford preview included another successful lay of a striker in Ivan Toney, going against him at 2.77/4 as he drew his sixth blank on the spin. Jan Bednarek has six Premier League goals, and they have all been scored at St Mary's, with four assisted by James Ward-Prowse. But I can't say I am in the habit of laying 21.020/1 chances, while the sensational Armando Broja on loan from Chelsea is impressing with five this term and a goal against Brentford in midweek.
At the age of 20, the Albanian became the youngest player to score in the top flight in each of his first four starts in home competition. However, Southampton will see far less of the ball for this game and if we can get around 3.02/1, which might be hopefully, I will look to take him on. It might be wishful thinking, so we could have to settle for 3.211/5.
Daniel Podence has surpassed his goalscoring exploits with four this season, but they've been in cup competition, so all roads lead to Jiminez, who has been directly involved in five goals in his six Premier League appearances against Southampton (4 goals, 1 assist) - against no side has the Mexican been involved in more in the competition. With that good record, backing him for First Goalscorer and Wolves to win using the Sportsbook Betbuilder pays 5.85.
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Alan Dudman's Premier League P/L
Ante-post bets previously recommended
Lay Brighton Top Six Finish @ 6.611/2
Back Norwich for Rock Bottom @ 2.26/5 (3pt bet)