Preview: WBA vs Saints
Joseph Chapman looks at Albion's chances tonight
A draw was all Albion needed last time they welcomed Southampton to The Hawthorns: they will be looking to go one better when they entertain the Saints on Monday night.
The 28th of April 2008 will live long in the memory for any Baggies fan there to witness it – coincidentally also being fought out in front of the Sky cameras on a Monday evening. That night a Southampton side fighting for their lives under ex-Baggies coach Nigel Pearson took a shock lead through Adam Lallana, only for sub Chris Brunt to come on and score the equaliser that ultimately sent his side back to the Premier League at the second time of asking.
These days a different Nigel is in charge at St. Mary’s. Mr Adkins left his role at Scunthorpe to guide the team from the coast from the third tier of English football back to the top tier after successive promotions. But after only one win in their opening nine Premier League matches, while also being knocked out of the Capital One cup at Leeds midweek, is taking its toll on Adkins, with fans beginning to question his ability to manage at the top level. Saints have conceded more goals than any other club so far this season, and Steve Clarke's Baggies, who have returned four wins from their opening five games at The Hawthorns, will be looking to inflict more misery on their lowly opponents.
Albion themselves have managed a zero points return from their previous two matches, Manchester City and then Newcastle striking in stoppage time to tarnish the Midland side's early season form. They will no doubt, however, see this as an opportunity to return to winning ways.
The hosts could welcome back a number of players for the Saints visit. Chris Brunt, Jerome Thomas, Billy Jones and Boaz Myhill all played at least an hour in the under 21 clash against Reading this week.
Shane Long and Claudio Yacob are rated 50/50 for the match, both having similar hamstring troubles in recent weeks, the latter missing the Newcastle trip last week. Steve Clarke was optimistic on the pair, however, when asked about their chances in an interview earlier this week. Steven Reid is still not fit, but Clarke noted that he should not be too far away now.
Southampton may include record signing Gaston Ramirez for The Hawthorns trip. The former Bologna winger has missed the last five weeks with a thigh injury. Jack Cork could also recover in time, but Frazier Richardson remains out. Tadanari Lee played at Elland Road during the week after suffering an arm injury and could also feature.
- The last three matches between the sides played out at The Hawthorns have ended in draws: WBA 0 Southampton 0 (2005), WBA 1 (Phillips) Southampton 1 (Jones) (2007), WBA 1 (Brunt) Southampton 1 (Lallana) (2008).
- Saints have lost all four away matches in the league so far (Man City, Arsenal, Everton and West Ham).
- The visitors have not won at The Hawthorns for 28 years.
- Altogether, Southampton have managed 24 victories over the Baggies in the 68 occasions the two sides have met, while Albion boast 20 wins.
Albion fans will be hoping to see duo Shane Long and Claudio Yacob participate in the televised game, both players starting the season extremely well and will boost the home side's chances. Where Long has been prolific, Rickie Lambert has matched him for the opposing side, and McAuley and Olsson will have their work cut out preventing the big man from adding to his tally. Albion to win 3-1.
Can Albion beat Southampton tonight? Have your say here at Baggies Banter.
Source: WBA MAD
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