West Brom v Southampton – Premier League
West Brom are at full strength as they prepare to face Southampton, with Tony Pulis having absolutely no absentees. Fitness levels will need checking after midweek but any rotation will be tactical. Rondon and Phillips are set to come back into the team, which is a strengthening in the attack, even if the former is on a barren spell in front of goal. No other alterations are likely in a settled team. Having stuttered to a midweek defeat, West Brom will be keen to bounce back with a win at home, where they have been much stronger this season. They’re comfortably in 8th and under little pressure, so motivation could be a slight issue, but they’ll still believe Southampton are a team they can beat and would be disappointed to take less than a win as they aim to set a club record points haul. They’re not a team to be too attacking at any point, but will feel they need two goals to win this game, as Southampton pose a threat coming forward. It’s well within their grasp to do so, but getting ahead will be an important part of the plan, as with little to really play for they may struggle to come from behind. Leading and consolidating on the counter is their strongest game plan.
Southampton have a host of fitness issues, but perhaps their biggest absence is in midfield, where Oriol Romeu serves a ban. He’s key for their balance and will likely be replaced by Hojbjerg, but it’s a weakening. Bertrand has trained and should be ok to return at left back, while Davis will likely shake off an ankle problem. Gabbiadini is a notable doubt up front and is unlikely to be risked. The win midweek put Southampton back on track but consistency has been an issue, and they find themselves with little to play for aside from a top 10 finish now. Away form has been patchy and while they’ll have a bit of confidence and momentum behind them, a trip to West Brom won’t be easy. They’ll target a win to lead the chasing pack in 9th, but a draw wouldn’t disappoint. Their approach will be balanced as they try and move forward quickly, but defensively they do have a vulnerability, so they can’t afford to play too recklessly. Keeping a clean sheet will be a big ask, but they do have the potential to score at the other end, so if they go behind they won’t panic, even if late as shown last time out. They don’t have the need to take risks if level late.
Verdict & Prediction
Tony Pulis was proven right midweek when pre-match fears of a lack of motivation came true in a 2-0 loss to Watford, but it hasn’t impacted West Brom’s league position, with 8th place still secure. Southampton are their nearest challengers though, so they should be fired up to keep them at arm’s length. At home, they have been strong this season, so there will be no shortage of belief that they can beat a team struggling for consistency. There is no real need for points so a draw is by no means a disaster, but at home, they’ll only be truly satisfied by three as they look to set a club points record.
Prediction: West Brom +0.00 Asian Handicap (same as Draw no bet)
Odds: 2.15 Pinnacle