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Southampton V West Bromwich Albion The Play Off Preview
Friday, 17th May 2024 07:45

Saints host West Bromwich Albion hoping to repeat Leeds's demolition of Norwich City last night, if the fans match the fervour shown by the home fans at Elland Road, then anything is possible.

As I said in the leading up to the first leg at the Hawthorns, Russell Martin has to again "Keep it simple, play your best players and change little"

We have a job to do, let us get it done and then worry about what comes in the next game. Keep it simple with 4-3-3, the formation that saw us through the 22 game unbeaten run.

Looking at Southampton social media pages, there seems to be a clamour to start Ross Steward if Che Adams is again unavailable for this game, I am not sure that is the right thing, it is a lot to ask of a player who has made just two short substitute appearances in the last 6 months and indeed just four in the last 16 months.

His core match fitness will be not yet be there and we should not risk him getting injured again by playing him too much too soon, better to keep him on the bench and bring him on when there are tired legs to run at then have him having to chase and graft early in the game.

If Che is not available move Adam Armstrong to the centre, with Ryan Fraser on the left and David Brookes on the right.

Keep the midfield simple, Will Smallbone, Flynn Downes and Joe Aribo

The back four should be KWP, THB & Jan Bednarek and then we come to the controversial selection issue.

Should Jack Stephens be on the left or should it be Ryan Manning ?

I don't think Stephens has played too badly as a defender, indeed to a degree i think this hybrid left back/central midfield role works, however the reason it doesn't is that Jack can carry the ball forward into some good positions, but the problem is that he gets caught on the ball and also his passing is not good enough under pressure.

I fully expect Jack to play, but I am not sure that he should do so unless it is as a conventional left back and even then I am not sure he should be in before Ryan Manning who offers a far more attacking option up the wing.

The reality is that West Brom are not the force away from home that they are at the Hawthorns and we showed that we can more than match them there, that being the case we need to put them on the back foot and take a leaf out of Leeds books last night.

Away from home Albion have conceded more goals than anyone else in the top 6 except us, and they have scored less than each of the other top six sides on the road.

We have the team to beat them and if we struggle then we have the firepower off the bench to change things around.

Russell Martin needs to have learnt his lessons from the last 9 months, we need to win this came because of him and not in spite of him.

There is much talk of greeting the team coach etc, hopefully this will be a catalyst for inside the ground, there is absolutely no point in putting on a display for the team coach and making a bit of noise in the bars in the concourse, it that is not carried into the game and not just for little bursts, but for the entire 90 minutes plus injury or extra time.

Make St Mary's a hostile place for the Baggies, show them what real support is all about, if we want the players to leave nothing on the pitch, then we as fans need to leave nothing in the stands.

I appreciate that not everyone wants to stand up sing shout and scream, but everyone can offer some sort of encouragement, screaming Manning/Mara you are **** is not supporting the team or the player, it abusing your own side, give your opinion on them after the game, but during the match back them 100% and help them help the team to victory.

This is a big big match, but if we play to our best and they do as well, we are the better side, we should have a quiet confidence, that ensures that we are not complacent.

Leeds set the bar last night, but we should not worry about then until we have completed the job against West Bromwich Albion.

Photo: Action Images

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Block8 added 08:43 - May 17
Play Bree at LB, Fellows went past both Manning & Stephens with ease in the first leg. We have enough going forward to enable us to negate perhaps their best player?
Also totally agree with the positive attitudes tonight, no booing or groaning just cheering please!

Bowlercow added 09:53 - May 17
Don't know about the players but I have got butterflies already
Massive must win game and it's down to all of us to create an hostile atmosphere for WBA
Will the club put colours on the seats tonight I am fairly sure Leeds did last night

Peterx added 11:24 - May 17
Hoping Che is ready to go...The question is if RM is not confident in getting 60 mins out of Che and the remainder including possibly Extra Time from Ross Stewart what do we do?

I would say then it is between Sulemana or Mara down the middle for those extra minutes. I think playing AA down the middle just does not work but he is a revelation off the right so let's leave him there.

Pros and Cons

Mara is bigger which helps defending set pieces, hold up play and work rate average to poor but he can finish.

Sulemana is probably more suited playing on the break as opposed to the deep block which we are likely to get, but might just get us a pen or some pull backs followed by cards and you never know when we might get that Liverpool form he showed fleetingly.

Will be a tough choice, if we setup with Jack at LB then I would feel we have enough to defend set pieces with effectively 3 CBs on the pitch then I would put Sulemana in'as we probably dont need Mara's presence. If Jack is not on the pitch I would play Mara simply because we don't want to get stung from set pieces and he can do a basic job at 9. (Remember this last para is only given neither Che or Ross ready to start).

SanMarco added 16:12 - May 17
Please no tippy-tappy in our own box if it is tight near the end. My nerves will not stand it. We are rightly favourites to win but one of those passes across our box from Jack with it 0-0 in the 94th minute would send us home very angry.

Other than that I am optimistic but if we were to fail honourably tonight, or at Wembley, then so be it. We came 4th so promotion would be a bonus - the REAL pressure is always on the team that came third. That's how I am rationalising it anyway!!

IanRC added 18:25 - May 17
Sulemana rather than Brooks for me but otherwise agree Nick. Irrespective of the team, full support the only option tonight, and hopefully next week.

Noah289 added 22:30 - Jun 2
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