|Southampton 2 v 1 West Bromwich Albion|
Saturday, 11th November 2023 Kick-off 15:00
Southampton V West Bromwich Albion The Preview
Friday, 10th Nov 2023 07:45
It's a promotion six pointer at St Mary's as Saints look to put distance between themselves and 5th placed West Brom, it is a big test, but one that the team are very capable of coming through after their past month or so's results.
As I have mentioned getting promoted is all about grinding out results and keeping going, the Baggies have done just that in recent weeks and in their last 5 games they have secured just one point less that ourselves.
The Championship is still very congested going into this weekend, although the top two are still a fair way ahead, from Leeds in 3rd place on 28 points to Middlesbrough on 22 in 12th, there are only six points.
But Saints can go into this game with confidence, not just because of a great 7 game run, but also because we now have a very efficient way of playing these days, that we are getting better at with each week, add to that the potential first appearance of Ross Stewart and there is much to hope for in this fixture.
Russell Martin seems to have got the foundations of his preferred starting XI in place and I think it could well have been a 3rd game unchanged, had it not been for the suspension of Jan Bednarek.
That is what most Saints supporters will be looking for when the team is announced at 2pm on Saturday, who will be slotting in the centre of the back four.
I see there being only two real options, Mason Holgate I think is the most likeliest candidate, he has the experience having played the position in the Premier League for Everton.
Shea Charles could be in the frame, but he lacks experience at this level in the centre of the defence, so I feel that he will be on the bench again.
The strength though is the quality on the bench, most of our bench could put a good case forward to start a game and it is this that sees us home with so many late goals, we bring on players who can change games rather than those who just bring fresh legs rather than genuine improvement.
This is what will see us through a long winter, when you have quality and proven experience such as Ryan Fraser, Shea Charles, Ryan Manning, Che Adams, Joe Aribo, Sam Edozie and of course Ross Stewart whom I expect to be on the bench.
Not to mention other squad players such as Sam Amo-Ameyaw & Sekou Mara.
This is where we have the edge over our rivals.
West Brom are of course no mugs and have experience of their own on the bench such as Erik Pieters, a veteran of many games for Stoke and indeed Burnley in the premier League, but at 35 he is no spring chicken and could be at risk of being done for pace with the high energy Saints attackers.
Likewise Matt Phillips who will turn 33 before the season ends.
So Saints can go into this fixture with confidence and hopefully take another step forward towards promotion, however we have to remember that we are a side that scores late goals and is never beaten, that is no coincidence and hopefully the fans will play a part late in the game if we have to chase it.
It looks like another virtually full house at St Mary's indeed this is likely to be the highest crowd for a home game against the Baggies in 7 meetings in the Premier League since they beat us at home in April 2013 in front of 31,946.
Photo: Action Images
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Blogs 31 bloggers
Knees-up Mother Brown #14 by wessex_exile
The blog returns with KMB14, after another awayday last weekend and first visit for me to Edgeley Park to see the U’s pit their wits against the heir apparent champions Stockport County. Despite a stewarding fubar that I’ve probably mentioned more than enough already, it was a good day out overall, with the U’s more than a match for Stockport for most of the game, apart that is from a 90 second lapse in concentration either side of half-time. Certainly no disgrace though, and with the U’s getting straight back on the bike midweek with a comfortable 1-0 victory over League 1 Posh (albeit against largely their second string), I think we can look forward to this afternoon against promotion contenders Barrow with a degree of confidence.
Knees-up Mother Brown #13 by wessex_exile
KMB13, and this weekend I’m sure we will all, in our own way, pause to remember the fallen. With war again raging in Europe, and the Middle East aflame, I’m sadly reminded of the lyrics of Eric Bogle.
Knees-up Mother Brown #12 by wessex_exile
It’s a wet, windy first weekend of November, which can mean only one thing – it’s the magic of the FA Cup again! Today we face a trip to the New Meadow, home of League 1 Shrewsbury Town. I’ve never been to the New Meadow, my last trip to Salop was to watch the U’s win 2-1 in our FA Cup second round match at Gay Meadow back in December 2005 – and what a day that was too. That match was featured in Matches of Yesteryear #20, and it was pleasing to see it was the focus of a club interview with Greg Halford last week. There is also something very noteworthy about today – unless my calculations are awry, this will be our 200th appearance in the world’s greatest cup competition.
Knees-up Mother Brown #11 by wessex_exile
Well, following the U’s has been a bit of a rollercoaster through the last week. Ben Garner’s U’s slumped to a very poor home defeat last Saturday against Harrogate Town, despite taking the lead with a sublime strike from Chay Cooper. Robbie had seen enough, and that evening Ben was let go, with U21 lead coach Matty Etherington announced as the interim Head Coach on Monday. On Tuesday night, Matty Etherington’s U’s put in one hell of a shift, to come away from Grimsby (Cleethorpes – ed.) with all three points and a masterclass from Arthur Read – happy days, could Matty be our man? Well, not right now that’s for sure, after a call to Robbie from Crawley Town yesterday letting him know that apparently Matty is tied up in a contract exit clause from his brief spell at Crawley, seemingly forbidding him from operating in a head coach/ manager role until May 2024 (when his Crawley contract would have expired). So, Matty Etherington is stood down, with Assistant Head Coach Scott Marshall stepping up as our new interim Head Coach for the tough trip to Accrington Stanley.
Knees-up Mother Brown #10 by wessex_exile
Back again, after another U’s-induced matchday ‘experience’ at FGR, and what an experience it was. What was already a poor match between two poor sides descended into insanity after the red card for Mingi, with the U’s dismantled repeatedly to let four second half goals in. I hardly ever leave a game before the final whistle, but as the board went up for nine more minutes I’d seen enough and me and Alfie headed out for our lift home (and as a result, missed the frank exchange of views between players and supporters at the end). However, let’s focus on the positives, whatever was said, a much changed U’s were a different team on Tuesday at League 1 Cambridge. The U’s thoroughly deserved the win and their Pizza Slice Trophy three points, thanks in no small part to an excellent performance from Chay Cooper.
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