Just one goal has been scored in the last three games between Southampton and West Bromwich Albion and the visiting team have failed to score in the last four with. I’m not sure too many people would be surprised with another goalless draw this weekend given Southampton’s recent form and Albion’s propensity for defensive football, but perhaps the signs, from Albion at least, are more promising.
Southampton had won just once in eight games before the win over Watford on Wednesday evening, a run which included a draw at home to Aston Villa. That victory, of course, was a 4-0 thumping of league-leaders Arsenal on Boxing Day which, for both teams, appears to be a freak result.
The defeat of in-form Watford was enough to move Southampton back above Albion on goal difference, three points ahead of Chelsea and, if results go their way, a win for either side could see them in the top half of the table come Saturday evening.
I wasn’t at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday evening, but reports suggest that Albion were worth their point and that once again, they took the game to their opponents playing attacking football. Perhaps one of the most telling statistics was that Albion had 13 shots on goal of which 5 were on target, compared to 14 and 2 from the hosts. Given Albion’s average of less than 10 shots on goal per game this season, it’s a marked change. It’s also interesting that the player had more attempts than any other was none other than James McClean with 5.
After attacking performances against Newcastle and Stoke, could it be that Pulis is sending his team out with a little more ambition of late? The Bristol City match could be dismissed as an experiment that didn’t work from an attacking point of view and I will be interested to see how Pulis approaches the game at St Mary’s this weekend as Albion look to extend what is now a four match unbeaten run.
Albion’s last win at Southampton, and their only victory at St Mary’s to date, was in 2013 when Romelu Lukaku dominated the game scoring one and helping the visitors to a 3-0 win. You have to go back to 1969 for Albion’s previous away win in this fixture when Colin Suggett grabbed a brace in a 2-0 victory.
Southampton has been a very poor hunting ground for the Baggies over the years, with just four wins in 37 games, the other two coming in the league in 1947 and, perhaps, the most important of all in the FA Cup Fourth Round Replay in 1968 when Jeff Astle (2) and Bomber Brown were the scorers in a 3-2 win to keep the Baggies en route to their eventual cup victory.
The Saints’ biggest win in the fixture is 4-0 on two occasions, in the league in 1967 and then, another FA Cup Replay, this time in the Fifth Round in 1976, when Mick Channon scored a hat-trick. That season, it was Southampton who went on to lift the FA Cup.
Gastón Ramírez is a doubt for the hosts, while centre-back Florin Gardoș is likely to miss the rest of the season.
James Morrison went off with what looked like a hamstring injury on Wednesday so seems unlikely to play while Victor Anichebe made the bench for that game but may not be fully fit. Jonny Evans has also picked up a knock and may not be fit.
Expect another tight game and I think this is too close to call. If Albion go for it again and get an early goal, that could play on the Saints’ lack of confidence, but sit back and it could be Swansea all over again. I’m going to be optimistic and think that Pulis is seeing the benefit of going for the win – Albion to take all three points.
All competitions; most recent game on the right
12 Sep 2015 – Premier League
West Brom 0
Last meeting at Southampton
23 Aug 2014 – Premier League
West Brom 0
28 Feb 2015 – Premier League
West Brom 1 (Berahino)
Last win at Southampton
27 Apr 2013 – Premier League
West Brom 3 (Fortuné, Lukaku, Long)
Albion’s Record against Southampton
|Premier League Record|