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Southampton 1 v 0 West Bromwich Albion
Barclays Premier League
Saturday, 21st October 2017 Kick-off 17:30
Saints V West Bromwich Albion The Preview
Friday, 20th Oct 2017 11:51

This is an important game for Saints, not just in terms of needing the points but in putting the faith back into the supporters after an unspectacular start to the season.


The truth is that Saints start to the season has not been as bad as some supporters would have you believe, indeed if Saints had beaten Newcastle they would have only been two points off fifth place and if that late goal had not been conceded at Stoke that gap would be a single point and we would be looking up the table instead of over our shoulders.

But that is all ifs and buts and like the whole of last season we are watching a decent squad underperfoming and failing to take the bull by the horns and put together a decent run of games that are not only unbeaten but have a streak of wins included.

This being the case the jury is still out on Mauricio Pellegrino and whilst most Saints fans would agree that he has something about him and an aura that Claude Puel never seemed to have, the fact is that he has to deliver the goods in terms of performances and points on the board.

The game against West Brom starts a run of three fixtures that are all winnable and we need to do so because after that it gets a lot tougher.

The fact that we are still mid table after such an uninspiring start tells us that we should not be getting involved in a relegation battle as some have suggested on social media, but it is all about producing the goods and that has to start against the Baggies.

A win although not pushing us that far up the table in terms of placing, will do wonders in that it will take us clear of the bottom third and instill the confidence that we need to get the season kick started.

The main issue is scoring goals, but that is not about not having the strikers to hand, Gabbiadini, Long and Austin are all players with a goals to game ratio that proves they can all hit double figures this season, but we are just not getting any of them in goal scoring positions.

We are not seeing games where the opposition goalkeeper is making save after save, nor are we watching too many easy chances squandered, the fact is that we just don't get our forwards into goal scoring positions and that has to change.

Mauricio Pellegrino needs to look at the build up play, the fans will lay the blame squarely at the feet of Redmond and Tadic, but is it their fault, their strength is getting down the wing and crossing, but that sort of build up does not suit either Manolo Gabbiadini or Shane Long neither of whom are centre forwards, two seasons ago this way of playing suited Pelle, but unless we play Charlie Austin it is not going to work, at least not enough times in a match.

So whilst neither Tadic or Redmond have prospered this season, you also have to look at the reasons why not, you culd have the best crosser in the World in the team, he could put every ball right across goal, but you have to have the right man on the end of crosses.

That means that we have to look at playing to Long or Gabbiadini's strengths, the Italian likes to be able to run at defenders with the ball, but how many times in a game does he actually get the chance to do that ?

The answer is rarely as our central midfielders are not passers of the ball, Romeu and Leina are ball winners and can run with it and lay it short, but they can't thread a pass and that is the problem.

So Pellegrino has to find a solution to the problem, if he wants to persist with Tadic and Redmond then he needs to give them a big target to aim at and that means Austin.

I would like to see the manager show some adventure against West Brom, perhaps go three at the back and that would allow some room for flare going forward, this being tha case I would be pleased to see a line up like this.

Forster

Yoshida, Hoedt, Van Dijk

Soares, Bertrand

Lemina, Romeu

JWP

Gabbiadini Long

This would give us a strong spine with Soares and Bertrand patrolling the flanks and would give JWP room to get time on the ball and look for the passes.

Talking of James Ward Prowse he is our best passer of the ball, but he has been now for four years, yet although he has shown in bursts he has what it takes, he has never truly taken a game by the scruff of the neck and run it, certainly not for more than the odd game here and there.

He now has to show that he can kick on from being a Matt Oakley type of player to being more Steve Williams, perhaps the formation above would allow him to do so, he needs to find the swagger that Williams had and the confidence.

If we can get the ball on the floor and get Gabbiadini running at defenders more then the goal problem will be solved.

Certainly as I like to say, if we do the same things we will get the same results and that will be a solid performance but with few clear cut chances and few goals, the manager now has to show he can lead from the front and make decisions, if he does so then the supporters will get behind him and the team, if he doesn't and puts out the same line up, then there could be unrest come 7.15pm on Saturday evening.


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perazi added 12:01 - Oct 20
"Ward-Prowse our best passer of the ball, and has been for four years". You're taking the piss mate.
6

TimSaint added 12:37 - Oct 20
I'm expecting time wasting tactics from the Baggies, right from the first minute and if they have to play their 3rd choice keeper, they will do anything possible to keep the ball out of their box and away from him.
We therefore need to attack with pace, directness and quick slick passing. On this basis, I would pretty much agree with your team selection Nick, but perhaps swap JWP with Boufal.
I'm not sure the manager will drop both Red and Tadic for the same game, even if they both need a kick up the arse. Perhaps he may instead go for a front 3 of Red and Long playing wide and Gab central.
We are still trying out different formations and we still do not know our best team. We can only experiment for so long before results take precedence. We have had it easy in terms of fixtures so far, so we really should have had more points on the board by now, to compensate for when the fixtures become a lot more difficult.
2

pete_boggs added 12:38 - Oct 20
I agree with Perazi. JWP has a high pass success rate due to his constant backwards and sideways passing. Any player could achieve this by doing so but wouldn't normally be allowed to if not protected by our new vice chairman of football.
If JWP plays we will lose. He will be out muscled in the midfield by a big strong well-drilled WBA team.
We need to let Lemina off the leash and leave Davis on the bench as well as JWP.
6

A1079 added 13:01 - Oct 20
This could be as near as you get to a must win at this early stage of the season. Fail to win this, then we could be in real trouble as our points tally against largely relatively mediocre teams has been poor. I am not suggesting WBA will be easy, as they won't and rarely are. They will make it difficult because that is what they do. But, we have some tough opposition coming up and with our performances thus far, it is difficult to see us beating any of the so called big sides.

I don't expect an exciting game but if we come away with a win, it will feel alot better. Lose and I think it could nasty.
9

halftimeorange added 13:23 - Oct 20
I can't believe that Boufal will be left out after his cameo performance last week. Also, he has speed, which the WBA defence, by and large, does not possess. Playing Charlie Austin against them is unlikely to pay dividends as they have a lot of height. Our attacks need to be along the ground and quick. I don't see Tadic being left out. If the forecast conditions prevail then Forster needs to be on top of his game and not rooted to his line when the crosses come in. As with all Pulis's teams they won't leak goals so a hard game is in prospect.
6

skiptonsaint added 14:02 - Oct 20
Under 2.5 goals by any chance ? . Like the look of that formation Nick and to try it for at least a part of the game but I would go Boufal instead of JWP
7

SanMarco added 14:54 - Oct 20
Is that the JWP who lit up the Watford game with dozens of slide-rule passes? Anyone who saw Steve Williams play will smile at the comparison because, basically, there isn't one. Williams was a match changer/winner - JWP isn't.

I would go with Boufal - otherwise we are back to the CP 'play well and get dropped' strategy. Gabby and Long + either Tadic or Davis. The rest pick themselves other than the big centre-back issue. If he goes with 3 at the back then he will need to drop Romeu won't he? We are overdue a good home win - let's have it tomorrow, PLEASE...
7

SaintBrock added 15:33 - Oct 20
I'll pretend you never mentioned JWP as a starter as I don't want my day spoiled.
7

allsaint54 added 15:43 - Oct 20
Nick, you forgot to mention IF we'd one all our games we'd be top of the table. Fact is with dull & laboured build up we will always struggle to create chances. It needs a total change of mindset which can only come from the coaches - fat chance of that with Ian Black. Agree can't play both Tadic & Redmond, Boufal deserves a chance but definitely not with sideways JWP. FF needs a break from first team plus VVD is only going through the motions, let him rest on the bench at best.
However, MP won't be making any of these changes so unfortunately I'm looking forward to another dull 0-0.
6

saintmark1976 added 16:05 - Oct 20
Nick, to mention J W P and Steve Williams in the same sentence is frankly risible.There is nothing about their abilities which is even remotely similar nor will there ever be in the future. Sad that it makes me to say it but J W P can only dream of Williams's skills as there is absolutely no chance of him ever being able to produce them on the pitch.

In answer to your question is our current form the fault of Redmond and Tatic ? In the main the answer is yes. Redmond is not Premiership quality and Tadic is a disruptive influence. They both need to be dropped starting with the game tomorrow and I would not be upset if Fraser went with them.

8

schatfield added 17:17 - Oct 20
Our ex players always score against us, so who is betting on a J Rod goal or two..
2

mikesaint added 09:49 - Oct 21
Is this your Saturday morning wind up Nick. JWP has had more than enough time to shine for saints and has failed miserable. He should never be in the first team again he is just not good enough. If he plays we Lose.
5


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