After Craig Shakespeare was shown the door on Tuesday, the “Manager Sackers” face another away trip to a club whose season is not going as well as they would’ve hoped.
Like Albion, Southampton have just one home win this season, 3-2 over West Ham back in August and went out of the League Cup at home. Unlike Albion, however, the Saints went out in the second round and also lost to lower league opposition in the guise of our Black Country rivals, Wolves.
Before the 2-2 draw with Newcastle last Sunday had gone three home matches in succession without scoring, somewhat reminiscent of the later stages of Albion’s last season. Both clubs have struggled for goals this season, each scoring just seven in their eight league matches – both clubs have also conceded nine although Albion have one more point and sit one place higher in the table.
While Leicester City may be in the bottom three, I don’t think too many Baggies’ fans would’ve been disappointed with a point from that game had they been asked beforehand. Obviously, having been a goal up with ten minutes to go, there is a sense of disappointment, as there was when conceding a lead in stoppage time to Watford. Both results were probably fair, but when you’re in the lead in the latter stages, you really need to see the game out – there are times when Albion won’t get the points they deserve, the defeat at Arsenal being a potential example, so they have to take the points when they can.
In fact, nobody in the Premier League has given away as many points from winning positions as Albion have this season. They have been in front on three occasions and failed to win, dropping six points (Bournemouth have led twice and lost, also losing six points), although it should also be noted that Albion are yet to lose a game in which they have scored first.
Looking ahead to Saturday’s game, perhaps the greatest area of concern is between the posts. With both Ben Foster and Boaz Myhill fighting to be fit for the match, it could be that 21-year-old, Alex Palmer, might have to make his first team debut. One player that will surely be looking forward to the game will be former Saints striker, Jay Rodriguez. After scoring a cracker on his first game in an Albion shirt against Leicester in Hong Kong, he has not really got going and, for me, Monday night was his worst game to date for the Baggies. Perhaps the prospect of playing against his former employers who decided he was surplus to requirements will give him the extra motivation he needs, but like nearly all of Albion’s attacking players, what he needs is a goal.
Perhaps the biggest positive of Monday’s game was Nacer Chadli’s goal. I don’t think he had a fantastic game, but that free kick was a touch of quality that has been largely lacking from the Albion team this season. If that can kick-start a purple patch similar to the one he enjoyed at the start of his Hawthorns career, it could kick-start Albion’s season.
The Dell was never a happy hunting ground for the Baggies with just three wins in thirty visits in just over a century, although they have managed to win twice in their nine visits to St Mary’s Stadium. The first of those was inspired by this season’s Premier League top scorer, Romelu Lukaku, when Albion won 3-0 in 2013, their first win at Southampton since 1969. The second was on New Year’s Eve last year, a game that will be remembered for Hal Robson-Kanu’s stunning winner in a 2-1 victory.
Since that match, Albion’s only win on the road was at Burnley in August. Pulis’s record of 10 wins from 51 away Premier League games (19.6%) doesn’t compare favourably to Albion’s other “successful” Premier League bosses Roy Hodgson (36.0%) and Steve Clarke (23.1%), and the fact that the Baggies have drawn twice as many away games than they have won under his tenure is very indicative of his approach. Albion might be unbeaten at home in the league this season, but having only won one of the four home games so far, getting more points away from home is even more crucial.
A repeat of last season’s win at St Mary’s would be a fantastic result, but I can see this being draw number five for the Baggies this season.
All competitions; most recent game on the right
8 Apr 2017 – Premier League
West Brom 0
Southampton 1 (Clasie)
Last meeting at Southampton
31 Dec 2016 – Premier League
Southampton 1 (Long)
West Brom 2 (Phillips, Robson-Kanu)
Albion’s Record against Southampton
|Premier League Record|