Southampton-West Brom Preview
It can't get worse than the bottom of the Premier League table, but that is where West Bromwich Albion find themselves heading into Saturday's clash with Southampton at The Hawthorns.
The Baggies (3-11-11) have struggled all season, but there is hope for Alan Pardew's side as they are only four points from safety.
West Brom's 2-0 victory over Brighton & Hove Albion on Jan. 13 was their first Premier League win since August, although they knocked Liverpool out of the FA Cup with a 3-2 win at Anfield last weekend.
The Baggies have had trouble scoring all season, as they've netted just 19 goals in 25 league matches. Only Brighton (18) have scored less. The club addressed their scoring deficiencies in the transfer window by bringing in striker Daniel Sturridge from Liverpool on loan until the end of the season. Sturridge made his Baggies' debut in a 3-0 loss to Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday. The England international saw 12 minutes of action and had little impact with his team already down 2-0 at his introduction.
But goalkeeper Ben Foster knows what Sturridge can bring to the team as an excellent finisher.
"He's a huge addition to our squad," Foster said. "You can see the qualities he has even in just the first few days that he has been with us. I've played with him before and he is a real ruthless finisher. He looks really sharp and right on form. He's definitely going to help us."
Sturridge also has some history on his side should he be named in the starting 11 this weekend. He has scored in his first Premier League start for three different clubs - Liverpool, Bolton Wanderers and Manchester City - and only failed to do so for Chelsea in the competition.
Southampton (4-11-10) are in a bit of unfamiliar territory as they come into Saturday's match atop the relegation zone on 23 points. The Saints are mired in an untenable 0-7-5 league stretch with their last top-flight victory coming at Everton back in November. However, Southampton remains alive in the FA Cup after a 1-0 victory over Watford last weekend.
Last time out in the league, the Saints took a point in a 1-1 draw against Brighton at St. Mary's Stadium on Wednesday. The club fell behind thanks to a penalty from Glenn Murray on 14 minutes, but Jack Stephens' 64th-minute equaliser was enough to get the home side a point.
"After the goal, we totally controlled the game, but we couldn't play quick enough to break through their defenders," manager Mauricio Pellegrino said. "Little by little they would drop and it was really difficult to find the space to create more chances.
"We were patient and well organised because I don't remember many actions from them, so in defence we controlled them well most of the time. In this situation, every single victory is massive, but we have to keep pushing and on Saturday we have another opportunity."
The Saints could be a bit short handed up front as striker Manolo Gabbiadini is a doubt with a hip injury. Charlie Austin is also unlikely to play due to injury.
Southampton have won their last four Premier League matches against clubs that started the day bottom of the table, including victories over West Ham United (August) and Crystal Palace (September) this season.
There have been only seven goals scored in the last nine top-flight league meetings between these sides at The Hawthorns.
Updated February 1, 2018