Wolverhampton Wanderers 1-1 Southampton
- Goals: Raul Jimenez (£7.1m) | Danny Ings (£5.9m)
- Assists: Matt Doherty (£6.0m) | Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (£4.8m)
- Bonus: Ings x3, Jimenez x2, Hojbjerg x1
Rotation and injury have dogged our Wolverhampton Wanderers assets this season, with Europa League involvement having a knock-on effect on the domestic front.
Raul Jimenez (£7.1m) has been immune to both of those so far in 2019/20 and is one of just three Wolves players to start all nine Premier League fixtures.
While few players are ever completely rotation-proof, the Mexico international is about as secure a starter as anyone on the West Midlands club’s books outside of defensive mainstays Willy Boly (£5.0m), Conor Coady (£5.0m) and Rui Patricio (£5.2m).
Jimenez has completed 90 minutes in six of those nine matches and any concerns about managed game-time due to Wolves’ exertions in Europe haven’t really materialised – he has been on the pitch for more minutes (765) than he had been in the opening nine Gameweeks of 2018/19 (747).
There is an increasing number of Fantasy managers who are looking at the Mexican striker for his favourable fixture run over the next seven matches, with Jimenez experiencing his first net ownership gain of the season in Gameweek 9.
Certainly, there are promising signs, with Jimenez following up his brace of assists against Manchester City with an equalising goal against Southampton on Saturday.
While sceptics will point out that he only scored from the penalty spot (the Mexican shares spot-kick duties with Ruben Neves (£5.4m) and could feasibly not have taken it had his teammate not been substituted at half-time), Jimenez had certainly earned his goal.
Twice the mid-price FPL striker had been denied by VAR before his equaliser: first being penalised for controlling a Boly pass with his hand and then having a goal struck off after VAR intervention following an offside call on strike partner Patrick Cutrone (£5.7m).
Jimenez aside, there was an “after the Lord Mayor’s Show” feel to Wolves’ performance, two weeks on from their fantastic win at the Etihad.
Nuno Espirito Santo’s side saved some of their best displays for matches against ‘big six’ opposition last season, while succumbing to defeats to the likes of Huddersfield (twice), Cardiff and Brighton.
Wolves have most definitely improved over the last four Gameweeks following their early-season struggles but this was a reminder that they can sometimes come unstuck in the “easier” fixtures, of which they have several coming up in the next two months.
Southampton had been clearly taking note of Adama Traore (£5.1m) in Gameweek 9 and gave him special attention at Molineux, with the 3-5-2 that Santo had used at the Etihad and Traore’s role at right wing-back within that set-up not getting much joy.
A half-time change to the 3-4-3 that Santo had used in more encouraging displays against Palace and Watford heralded an improvement and it’ll be interesting to see if the Wolves boss sticks with that system in the more winnable matches ahead, as it gives Traore the license to push forward into a front three and allows Matt Doherty (£6.0m) the opportunity to play in the same side as his in-form teammate.
The Irish wing-back said of his relationship with Traore:
When I came on, I was told to play a bit more inside and let Adama stay out wide. We obviously work on those kinds of things on the training ground all the time, and I managed to get in behind a few times, with one of those leading to the goal.
When I play alongside Adama, we’re told to switch all the time – to never be in the same position. Our movement is quite good, and at times today their defence didn’t know what to do.
As if to prove a point about what we said about rotation earlier, Doherty has started only five of Wolves’ nine league games this season.
The home side lost Ryan Bennett (£4.9m) to an early injury and owners of Wolves’ defensive assets will be hoping that he or Romain Saiss (£4.4m) can recover quickly, as Jesus Vallejo‘s (£4.8m) presence is not a reassuring one at the back: the loanee has struggled to get to grips with English football and a misplaced pass from the young centre-back led to an early chance for Danny Ings (£5.9m).
Another errant Vallejo pass ultimately led to Ings’ opening goal, too, although Coady had to shoulder the most of the blame for that goal when failing to deal with Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg‘s (£4.8m) header.
Santo said of his two injured centre-halves:
The moment that Ryan had to go out, we lost a bit of the tempo. We started to rush the game, so it was not good. I hope it’s not too serious. He could not proceed, so let’s see.
Romain is coming back and I hope Ryan is not a big deal. We have a tough schedule and need everybody. We’ve had 18 games already, we have Thursday, then Sunday, it’s non-stop.
In more positive news on the injury front, a lively-looking Diogo Jota (£6.1m) returned from a lay-off in the final half an hour, forming a front three with central striker Jimenez and right-winger Traore.
Jota’s price is eye-catching after a series of drops but rotation and injury have blighted him this season and he has much to prove before we consider him in the same breath as Jimenez again.
Southampton assets are hardly going to be in-demand, either, with Leicester, Chelsea and Arsenal to come in the next four Gameweeks.
The Saints are nevertheless a club we’ll be watching closely over the next month, with their run of fixtures from Gameweeks 14-18 among the best in the division.
Ings is the obvious attraction at present, with the hope being that he can maintain fitness and some semblance of form (he has scored in the last three Gameweeks) to offer us yet another cut-price option in attack from late-November onwards.
The former Liverpool striker certainly looks sharp, with his aggressive pressing from the front causing the Wolves backline problems and, more importantly to FPL managers, a succession of chances falling his way.
Ralph Hasenhuttl’s change to a 3-4-2-1 meant that James Ward-Prowse (£5.8m) was allowed to play a more advanced role, joining Nathan Redmond (£6.3m) in the two attacking midfield positions behind Ings.
Southampton registered 14 shots to Wolves’ four but Hasenhuttl highlighted the more secure defensive performance following his side’s struggles of recent weeks, saying:
I think it was a step forward after the last three games where we conceded a lot of goals. I think we were more stabilised in this game and better organised which is what we’ve been working on in the last two weeks. It seemed to look better and I had a good feeling at half-time because I knew we would get a few more chances in the second half.
Lessons learned from Gameweek 9
- Everton 2-0 West Ham United
- Aston Villa 2-1 Brighton and Hove Albion
- Bournemouth 0-0 Norwich City
- Chelsea 1-0 Newcastle United
- Leicester City 2-1 Burnley
- Tottenham Hotspur 1-1 Watford
- Wolves 1-1 Southampton
- Crystal Palace 0-2 Manchester City
- Manchester United 1-1 Liverpool
- Sheffield United 1-0 Arsenal
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