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Battle at the bottom: West Brom vs Southampton

West Brom took on Southampton on Saturday the 3rd February at the Hawthorns, with WBA manager Alan Pardew bound to see some familiar faces, greeted with good memories and warmth.

These amicable encounters, however, would have to be short lived as avoiding relegation is definitely fore-fronted in the minds of both managers and teams. Alan Pardew was yet to be defeated by Southampton at home in the Premier League (W3-D2). The two previous meetings of the teams has resulted in the game being won by a single goal, with Sofian Boufal’s sensational run and finish being the more notable of the two finishes.

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West Brom wasted absolutely no time in putting pressure on the Saints with the wonderful left foot of Chris Brunt whipping in a corner that was asking to be smashed in. And smashed in it was, Ahmed Hegazi making no mistake and well and truly beating McCarthy at his back post with less than four minutes on the clock.

The match was relatively quiet with Southampton retaining most of the possession while not doing much with it, which is reflective of their season so far. Up until the 40th minute. Mario Lemina, who was yet to score for the Saints, was given far too much time on the edge of the box, absolutely rifling an effort into the top left hand corner of the goal and certainly didn’t look like a player who was particularly nervous in front of goal.

Lemina’s smashing finish seemed to give Southampton the boost that the match, and potentially their season, needed. As less than 3 minutes later, Jack Stephens glanced a header across the goal from a corner, which found its way into the back of the net. Stephens had only scored his first goal for the Saints 8 days previously, and is now sitting on 3 goals in 3 games. Maybe he is the goalscorer Southampton have been missing? The two goals allowed Southampton to go in to the second half a goal ahead.

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It did not take Southampton long to capitalise on their confidence in this game. 10 minutes in to the second half a perfect opportunity for James Ward-Prouse arose. A free kick from 19 yards out. The ball was perfectly whipped in to the bottom right hand corner around the wall and past Ben Foster, and who else would you want other than the dead ball specialist of JWP?

It wasn’t all plain sailing for the Saints as West Brom put the pressure on in the 72nd minute. Another lovely cross from the left hand side delivered by Chris Brunt was nodded in off the post by Rondon.

West Brom couldn’t find that equaliser and the game finished 3-2. This result meant that Southampton moved into a more comfortable position of 15th place, with West Brom sinking to the bottom of the Premier League. West Brom are down but they certainly are not out. With only 7 points separating 12th and 20th the relegation battle is one to be watched, and no team is safe (unless you’re Manchester City, of course).

Written by Niall Henry.

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