Two sides who will be aiming to follow up their first wins of the season with another three points meet at the Hawthorns, as West Bromwich Albion entertain Ronald Koeman’s Southampton.
A nervy Baggies side were given a massive helping hand by Stoke City last time out, seeing two opponents sent off before edging to victory through Salomon Rondon’s first goal since his record £12m signing. The Venezuelan already appears to be money well spent, providing a physical though dynamic presence in attack, showing no shortage of nice touches and glimpses of technique in both his Premier League starts so far.
In the days following that success at their West Midlands rivals, the attention returned to ensuring that Saido Berahino remained an Albion player beyond the transfer deadline. That they managed, but to the chagrin of the player himself, who has only this week resumed training after a spat with the club’s hierarchy. Having missed the last two league games as a result of Tottenham’s interest, it will be intriguing to see if he plays a part here, and how his attitude is should he do so.
There was also plenty of transfer speculation at Southampton, and they too were able to keep hold of an unsettled star. Victor Wanyama was also coveted by Tottenham and handed in a transfer request, but the advances of the North Londoners were held off by a club which has become so used to selling players in recent times. It is a huge boost, as his combative presence in midfield is a vital one, and with Morgan Scheiderlin having left, this coming months now provide him with the opportunity to win more of the acclaim.
That there was no movement on deadline day completed a positive few days for the Saints, who put a halt to their shaky start to the campaign by comfortably seeing off the 10 men of Norwich City. Graziano Pelle is one of the few at the club to have begun in fine form, and his goal shortly before the break eased the tension around the St. Mary’s Stadium. Dusan Tadic’s brace in the second half put his side at ease, so the aim here is carry on where they left off.
There could be West Brom debuts for Anders Lindegaard and Jonathan Evans, while Chris Brunt has recovered from a hamstring problem in time to play. Rondon will be assessed following international duty.
Southampton are still unable to call upon left-back Ryan Bertrand and midfielder Jordy Clasie, but Virgil van Dijk awaits his bow for the club following his arrival from Celtic.
Last Meeting: West Brom continued their excellent home form under Tony Pulis at the end of February as an early Saido Berahino goal accounted for a Southampton side who paid the price for an unnecessary tactical switch and thus created few chances. England U-21 striker Berahino finished expertly with a rising shot from the edge of the penalty area in only the second minute.
Played for both – Nigel Quashie: Harry Redknapp brought Quashie to Southampton in January 2005 to aid their battle against relegation, but despite one goal in 13 outings he could not prevent them from the dreaded drop. It was a similar story at West Brom a year later, as they were relegated following his January arrival. He scored once in nine games for Albion.