On January 11th, West Bromwich Albion will travel to St Mary’s Stadium to take on Southampton. In a clash of these two mid-table teams, Southampton will try to rebound after two straight defeats. West Brom will try to continue their league unbeaten streak they have had since firing Steve Clark. With West Brom having a new lease of life under Keith Downing, they will feel confident against a Southampton team recovering from injuries and poor form. This will be Keith Downing’s last game in charge as West Brom announced Pepe Mel as their new manager, who will be observing from the stands for this game.
A major factor in Southampton’s drop in form has been down to injuries but they are starting to get fit. The Saints will be without goalkeeper Artur Boruc, as he continues to recover from his broken hand, and will be without Guly de Prado. Gaston Ramirez and Rickie Lambert will both face late fitness tests as will Victor Wanyama. Wanyama has been missing for months with his leg injury and him coming back into the side could be huge for Mauricio Pochettino. West Brom players Billy Jones, Victor Anichebe, and Youssouf Mulumbu will all be facing late fitness tests and are otherwise injury free.
West Brom have been the draw specialists in the Premier League this season with nine draws. The two teams faced each other on the opening day this season at the Hawthorns, and Southampton came away with a dramatic 1-0 win with a 90th minute goal from the penalty spot. Last season when these teams faces off at St Mary’s, West Brom came away with a 3-0 victory. West Brom are tied with five other teams for the least home wins, with only one, but lead the league in most draws on the road with six.
One of Southampton’s key cogs this season has been captain Adam Lallana. Lallana has been another excellent product of the Southampton academy and has shown his quality in 2013 earning himself his first England cap. Lallana has been the most creative player for the Saints this season creating 33 chances and three clear cut chances. Lallana also has fantastic dribbling ability, something he can use to try and exploit the West Brom full backs. Lallana has completed 39 dribbles from 70 attempts and has more completed dribbles than any other Southampton player. Lallana has shown his quality on multiple occasions this season and has broken defence’s down this season. He will try to do the same to the West Brom defence and help Southampton get the three points.
After a poor start to the season, Steve Clarke brought a slew of new players into West Brom with Morgan Amalfitano being one of those players. Amalfitano has added a good bit of quality to the squad at the Hawthornes. Amalfitano left Marseille on loan for West Brom and has excelled in the Premier League. He’s been West Brom’s most creative player, and has created 32 chances for West Brom since arriving on the first of September. Not only has he created chances for the Baggies but, Amalfitano has created high quality chances with five clear cut chances created, again more than any West Brom player. He’s added that extra bit of quality to the West Brom set up and helped them recover from their initial poor start. After hitting another rough patch and having to part ways with Steve Clarke, West Brom and Amalfitano will look to keep their unbeated run going and try to pick up the three points at St Mary’s.
This game will be a tight, highly contested match. Southampton showed the quality they possess early in the season, when they got to as high as second in the table, but have shown they do not yet have the depth to be able to sustain a push for the European spots. West Brom’s league unbeaten run under Keith Downing has been impressive and they will hope to keep it up but, at a tough ground like St Mary’s, this may be where it ends. With Southampton starting to recover from some of their injuries, I think, Southampton will have the slight edge in this affair.