Ronald Koeman’s Southampton are the visitors to the Hawthorns this weekend for the first game after the international break and, of course, the first game since the closure of the transfer window. Albion must now put the window behind them as they start a run of fixtures that offer them a great opportunity to climb into the top half of the table.
While Albion have held on to their star player, at least as far as his registration is concerned, Southampton sold two of their stars over the summer with Nathaniel Clyne joining Liverpool for £12.5m and Morgan Schneiderlin heading to Old Trafford for twice that amount. While the departures of Lallana, Lovren and Shaw last summer failed to produce the expected relegation battle, the sale of Schneiderlin, in particular, could prove to be a key departure. However, the disappointment of exiting the Europa League before the group stages could be a blessing in disguise when it comes to their Premier League form.
The French international’s departure was offset by the arrival of two midfielders in Oriel Romeu from Chelsea and Jordy Clasie (pictured) from Feyenoord. The Dutchman, who joined for £8m, has only featured in one Europa League game so far while Romeu, who plays in a more advanced role, has played in half of the Saints’ eight fixtures this season. Clyne’s replacement is Cédric Soares, the Portuguese international who joined from Sporting Lisbon.
One intriguing signing that Southampton made on transfer deadline day was that of Virgil Van Dijk from Celtic. Signed for an undisclosed fee believed to be around £11m, the Dutchman will be fighting for a central defensive spot not only with with José Fonte and Maya Yoshida who have both been ever-presents so far, but also with Steven Caulker who joined on loan from Cardiff City.
As I covered the history of this fixture in my preview to February’s match, this article will focus on players who have played for both clubs.
One of the newest additions to the Albion squad, Rickie Lambert, made his name at the Saints scoring 112 goals in 235 games over five seasons starting in League 1 in 2009. Of the Southampton squad, Shane Long is the only former Baggie. The Irishman spent three seasons at the Hawthorns scoring 22 goals in 87 games before moving to Hull City in January 2014. He moved to the south coast the following summer and has scored 9 goals in 45 appearances, including 23 from the bench.
Two of Albion’s greatest ever full backs also played for Southampton during their careers. Stuart Williams, who remains Albion’s most capped player, played 246 times for the Baggies between 1951 and 1962 before moving to the Dell. He went on to make 167 appearances for Southampton helping them to promotion to the top flight in the 1965/66 season. Derek Statham was a key part of the legendary Albion side of the late seventies, making a total of 373 appearances for the Baggies between 1976 and 1987. He had played just eight times for Albion in two years after relegation in 1986, but he moved back into the top flight by transferring tot he Saints and went on to make 78 appearances in two seasons before moving on to Stoke City in 1989.
Super Kevin Phillips (pictured), who was a fans favourite at the Hawthorns between 2006 and 2008 when he scored 46 goals in 88 games for the Baggies, was a youth player at Southampton before moving to Baldock Town and then Watford. He returned to the south coast club in 2003 when he signed from Sunderland and scored 26 goals in 73 games over two seasons.
One forward who was not quite so prolific as Super Kev was Mickey Evans. A Plymouth Argyle legend, Evans got his move to the Premier League with Southampton in March 1997, although he managed just 5 goals 25 games for the Saints – Albion manager Ray Harford obviously saw something in him, however, and signed him in October of the same year. Harford was gone two months later and Evans managed just 9 goals for the Baggies in three seasons making a total of 73 appearances.
England international Carlton Palmer started his career as a YTS at the Hawthorns in 1984 and made 139 appearances before moving to Sheffield Wednesday in 1989. He played 52 times for the Saints over two seasons in the late nineties.
Nigel Quashie joined a select band of players to have been relegated from the Premier League four times when he suffered the fate in successive seasons with Southampton and West Brom. Having been on the wrong end of Albion’s Great Escape in 2005, Bryan Robson brought Quashie to the Hawthorns as a January signing in 2006 and we all know what happened next!
One player who had an interesting set of clubs that included a move from Southampton to West Brom was Cape Verde international midfielder Pedro Miguel Cardoso Monteiro, also known as Pelé (pictured). Having spent 10 years playing in Portugal for four different clubs, Pelé moved to Southampton from Belenenses in 2006 and made 43 appearances for the Saints helping them to a Championship playoff spot. He joined Albion in summer 2007, but it never quite worked out for him at the Hawthorns and he made just 32 appearances before moving to Falkirk in 2009. He is now back on the south coast at Havant and Waterlooville still playing at the age of 37.
A few other players that have pulled on both colours of stripes include Chris Baird, David Burnside, Richard Chaplow, Graham Lovett, Chris Perry, Graham Potter, Uwe Rossler, David Speedie and Andy Townsend. Also, the late great Sir Bobby Robson had a trial with Southampton, albeit unsuccessful, before joining Fulham in 1950. He made 257 appearances for the Baggies scoring 61 goals between 1956 and 1962.
For the hosts, the question on most fans’ lips will be whether Saido Berahino will be in the squad. Few expect him to start the game, but a place on the bench would be a sign that his re-integration into the squad is progressing. Chris Brunt seems to have recovered from the injury that caused him to miss the two Northern Ireland games over the weekend, but James Chester looks likely to miss out with a hamstring injury that saw him miss Wales’s fixtures.
It will be interesting to see if Pulis opts to start Callum McManaman once again after his impressive showing against Chelsea. It was perhaps too much to hope for him to start at the Britannia last time out, but back at the Hawthorns, it would seem an obvious choice. With Rondón having opened his account in the Potteries, he will be eager to get some of the service that the ex-Wigan man can provide.
For the visitors, like Albion they are missing their first choice ‘keeper although Fraser Forster’s return is not expected until well into next year. Florin Gardos is another long term absentee while Jordy Clasie, Gaston Ramirez and Ryan Bertrand are all injury doubts. As mentioned earlier, it will be interesting to see if Koeman opts to break up his central defensive partnership following the arrival of Van Dijk. Up front, the attacking threats of Pellè and Tadic have already got seven goals between them this season, and I wouldn’t back against an appearance from former Baggie, Shane Long, from the bench at least.
If Albion can reproduce the attacking performance that pushed Chelsea to the brink, they should be able to grab all three points.
All competitions; most recent game on the right
28 Feb 2015 – Premier League
West Brom 1 (Berahino)
Albion’s Record against Southampton
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