The teams are out! West Brom wear their famous navy blue and white stripes, while Southampton wear their first-choice St-Mary’s-in-negative red shirts with white sash. It’s a cool but clear evening at the highest league ground in England. We’ll be off in a minute, after a quick Baggies blast of the Liquidator.
Ralph Hasenhuttl’s turn. “The team deserve to play again. Turning the table around against Burnley is not so easy and they showed a special performance after the first half hour. Today we need a similar performance but from the first moment. Hopefully we can show up immediately. We have never looked down, we always try to climb the table and look in front. We have to be fresh in the mind and we have eight, maybe nine games coming up.”
Sam Allardyce talks to Sky. “Let’s focus on winning but not going all out, not going gung-ho, doing it with the right stability, and the right stability has been from a good solid defensive unit playing the right way to create opportunities to attack when we win the ball back. We need to win this game, a draw is no use to us based on the four points Newcastle have picked up over the last two games. So let’s try to win and stay in touch if we can.”
Ryan Bertrand of Saints speaks to Sky as well, saying that “we’ve got work still to do in the Premier League so it’s important we’re fully focused tonight ... if we can get the win we can keep the good momentum going into the [FA Cup semi] ... it’s hard to not have half an eye on it, but we have a lot of work to do in the Premier League from now until the end of the season ... West Brom’s results show they have a solidity and have found a way to win ... we have to be on our jobs.”
Conor Townsend of West Brom tells Sky that “the mood is good ... to be honest it’s been good for the past few weeks, performances have been up there but results haven’t followed ... but last week we got both so hopefully we can do the same again tonight ... we’ve got a lot of games still to go, a lot of points to play for ... in this league, anyone can go on a run of three or four wins, and as soon as you do that, it’s game on ... we hope for back-to-back wins for the first time this season and kick on ... we’ve got to win the game.”
Sam Allardyce makes one change to the West Brom team named for the thrashing of Chelsea. Callum Robinson - who came on to score twice at Stamford Bridge - takes the place of defender Semi Ajayi. Attacking formation ahoy!
Ralph Hasenhuttl isn’t in the mood to obsessively tinker either. He names the same Saints XI that came from two goals down to beat Burnley last week.
West Bromwich Albion: Johnstone, Furlong, O’Shea, Bartley, Townsend, Phillips, Yokuslu, Maitland-Niles, Matheus Pereira, Robinson, Diagne.
Subs: Gibbs, Robson-Kanu, Ajayi, Livermore, Diangana, Gallagher, Peltier, Button, Ahearne-Grant.
Southampton: Forster, Walker-Peters, Bednarek, Vestergaard, Bertrand, Armstrong, Ward-Prowse, Diallo, Walcott, Ings, Redmond.
Subs: McCarthy, Stephens, Adams, Djenepo, Minamino, Salisu, Tella, Ferry, Jankewitz.
Referee: Simon Hooper (Wiltshire).
Southampton have West Bromwich Albion’s number. And that number is 2-0 1-2 2-3 1-0 1-0. Yep, they’ve won their last five matches against the Baggies, four in the Premier League, one in the FA Cup. If they prevail at the Hawthorns this evening, they’ll equal their longest winning streak against a single opponent in their top-flight history.
Saints will be feeling good about themselves right now. They’re coming off the back of a 3-2 comeback victory against Burnley, and contest an FA Cup semi-final this coming Sunday against a Leicester City side suddenly out of sorts. Relegation may still be a possibility, but it’s not a serious concern. There shouldn’t be too much pressure on Ralph Hasenhuttl and his men tonight.
Only thing is, West Brom will be in a chipper mood themselves. They’ve just won 5-2 at Chelsea, one of the genuine performances of the season. They’ve only lost two of their last seven, aren’t letting in half as many goals these days, and while relegation looks likely, they’ve given themselves an outside chance of another Great Escape. With expectations low, Sam Allardyce’s charges won’t be feeling too much weight on their shoulders either. It’s all relative.
So this is set up rather nicely. West Brom hit five last time round; Saints have scored three in their previous two matches. More of that sort of behaviour this evening would be most acceptable. With both teams free-wheeling in their own different ways, you never know. It’s on!
Kick off: 6pm BST.