Southampton vs West Bromwich Albion
Southampton fell to a 0-3 defeat at home to Chelsea on New Year’s Day, the Saints struggling to make any in-roads against a dangerous Blues outfit. They will need to regroup ahead of the visit of a West Brom side who are precariously positioned above the relegation zone.
Rickie Lambert continues to display the kind of willingness to have an attempt on goal which may yet win him a post on the plane to Brazil and which the Baggies defence must be wary of. He is currently the joint fifth highest rated striker in the league for total shots on goal with 38.
The transfer window has rolled round again and once more the future of Luke Shaw is being debated. Shaw has stated adamantly that he will be staying on the south coast though, which must be music to the ears of Mauricio Pochettino. The 18-year old currently has one of the best tackle success rates in the Southampton squad despite his tender years, winning 68.3% of his 41 attempted challenges according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.
Pablo Osvaldo has taken little time to settle into Southampton’s style of play since arriving from Roma and the Saints will miss him while he serves out his ban for his part in the touchline incident against Newcastle. Osvaldo leads the Southampton squad for attacking contributions (shots on goal, assists, dribbles, crosses) with 38.
Midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin once again leads the Southampton squad for passes completed in the opponent’s half this weekend, and West Brom will have to do their best to stifle his use of possession. He’s racked up 413 so far this term.
A late Saido Berhaino penalty gave West Brom what could prove to be an absolutely vital 3 points at home to Newcastle last week. The victory was the Baggie’s first in the 10 league games and caretaker boss Keith Downing will be hoping they can now push on and move themselves further away from the bottom three.
Claudio Yacob continues to be one of unsung heroes of this West Brom campaign, his defensive efforts providing some stellar statistics. The Argentinian has won the joint highest number of tackles in the league according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index with 72. This gives him a 70.6% tackles success rate so far this term.
Fellow midfielder Youssuf Mulumbu has been compiling some impressive statistics of his own this season, his reading of the game being particularly exceptional. He’s completed the joint second highest number of interceptions in the league with 51, tied with Arsenal’s Laurent Koscielny.
The form of Stephane Sessgenon may well hold the key to the rest of West Brom’s season, the Benin midfielder being one of the driving attacking forces for the Baggies so far this term. His 56 attacking contributions (shots on goal, crosses, dribbles, assists) is the current squad benchmark.
Similarly, the fitness of Jonas Olsson may prove to be another crucial factor, albeit at the opposite end of the pitch. The Swede leads the West Brom squad for total defensive contributions (blocks, clearances, interceptions, tackles won) this term with 223 and whoever takes over at The Hawthorns will need his leadership in defence moving forward.