West Bromwich Albion will be attempting to win for the third time in four Premier League matches as they come up against a Southampton side that lies above them in table through goal difference alone.
Wednesday evening saw Southampton record a welcome victory over a below-par Watford and deliver some respite after a mightily challenging few weeks which had seen a downturn in results, indiscipline among the squad, and some of the club’s key players being linked with a move away during the January transfer window. The performance was much more fluent as they dominated from start to finish, with the only criticism being that they did not triumph by a wider margin.
Manager Ronald Koeman will now be hoping that can be a catalyst for better things to come, and the potential return of striker Graziano Pelle for this one certainly gives the Saints a chance. Whether the Italian plays or not, his side have an in-form man in their ranks in the shape of Shane Long, who will hope to continue doing the business here against his former club. Signed for £12m in the summer of 2014, Long really has made the most of his recent run in the team.
Another man who takes on his previous employers is Rickie Lambert, who will be disappointed with his goal return since making the move to West Brom at the end of July, but will certainly receive a very warm reception on his return to the St. Mary’s Stadium. At Chelsea in midweek, the Baggies’ goals for once came from midfield as Craig Gardner and James McClean were both on the mark as they claimed a hugely creditable and deserved point.
Thanks to having taken seven points from the last nine available, the club will be surely looking up rather than down, as a win here has the potential to lift them into the top half. Head Coach Tony Pulis finally appears to be going to grounds such as Stamford Bridge and encouraging his players to attack more rather than just sit back and soak up pressure, which will only increase confidence throughout the team.
Games between these two sides are always tight, and the midfield battle will be intensified by the return of Southampton’s Victor Wanyama from suspension. Pelle could start after coming off the bench againsy Watford.
Jonas Olsson faces a late fitness test for West Brom as he recovers from a hamstring problem. James Morrison suffered more significant damage to his thigh and so misses out here.
Last Meeting: There was no separating the two clubs as Ronald Koeman’s first home game in charge of Southampton ended in a goalless draw in August 2014. James Ward-Prowse shaved the post with their best effort in a game where chances were few and far between, while at the other end Brown Ideye was denied by goalkeeper Fraser Forster.