This weekend sees Southampton take on West Bromwich Albion at St. Mary’s where both teams have had a fantastic season to date. In the reverse fixture, the Baggies secured a 2-0 win on Bonfire Night which left the Saints on four points from their first 10 matches. A lot of events have happened since then and now only six points separates the two clubs in the table. A win for Mauricio Pochettino’s men could almost secure another season in the Premier League as well as increasing their current unbeaten run which stands at six games.
Ahead of the match, I’ve asked a West Brom fan on his views and the representing the Baggies is Daniel Cannon. He has been a lifelong fan of his beloved Baggies and is a season ticket holder at The Hawthorns. His first game was when he was five-years-old where he saw West Brom beat Bury 1-0 in 1999. Welcome to “And It’s All Southampton FC!” Dan!
How do you think your season has gone so far?
I think we’ve had a fantastic season. The start of the season was particularly impressive and we found ourselves third after 13 games. As expected, we did begin to gradually drop down the table and since the turn of the year, our form hasn’t been great. We’re currently eighth and if that’s where we finish, it will definitely be deemed a successful campaign.
What has been the key to your success this season?
I think there are a few things to be honest. Team spirit has been good and the confident we gained from the early form has definitely helped. Yacob and Mulumbu have been very important players this season, playing just in front of the defence and giving great protection. Gareth McAuley has been rock solid at the back and everyone knows how much of an impact Romelu Lukaku has had.
West Brom is Steve Clarke’s first managerial job, how do you think he has done in his first season at the club?
It couldn’t have gone much better for him really. He’s shown he’s got what it takes to be a manager after all his years of being an assistant. He’s worked under some big names and the experience he’s gained has helped him I think. Learnt from the best.
The Baggies used to be a yo-yo club over recent years. With the club in its third consecutive Premier League season, can you become an established club for years to come?
I really do hope so and over the last three years, we’ve shown we can compete well at this level. The past two seasons, we’ve finished tenth and eleventh so it shows we are moving forward. As long as we have no more relegation battles, I don’t care!
The club had a terrific start to the season, but have had a dip in form in the past few weeks. What do you think has caused this?
Not sure really. We all knew the form we were showing at the start of the season wasn’t going to last as we were punching above our weight. Maybe a team like ourselves doesn’t have the squad depth to perform consistently all season.
Romelu Lukaku has been a sensation on loan at The Hawthorns this season. What has he brought to the team? Do you think he could join permanently?
He’s brought a different dimension to our side. He’s big, strong and powerful. At the beginning of the season, we were using him as an impact sub, but as the season has gone on, he’s got better and better and has earned more starts. As we only play one upfront, there has been great competition between [Shane] Long and Lukaku. No chance of getting Lukaku permanently, but a second loan spell is very possible I think.
What have you made of Southampton so far this season?
It’s been a success! Obviously the target would have been to stay up and you’ve achieved that. I think [Nigel] Adkins was unlucky and I did rate him as manager, but the new bloke has come in and has got you scoring goals but most importantly, defending well as a unit.
Out of the Southampton squad, who has caught your eye and why?
Adam Lallana and Rickie Lambert. Lallana always seems to be at the centre of everything that goes well for the Saints and he deservedly got his new contract. Lambert has shown he can score goals at this level and that’s what it’s all about.
Do you think Southampton can become an established Premier League club like West Brom?
Definitely. I think the owner will back the manager quite well in the summer. It looks like there is some good young players coming through so the future is bright for Southampton I think.
What is your prediction for Saturday’s match?
Southampton 1-2 WBA!
Many thanks to Dan for taking the time to answer my questions and you can follow him on Twitter: @DANWBA125. By the way Dan, the “new bloke” is called Mauricio Pochettino! Let’s hope for an entertaining game and more importantly, the three points that could secure safety!