West Brom-Southampton Preview
The Premier League campaign is not without its ups and downs, and Southampton appear to be heading in a positive direction ahead of Saturday's home clash with West Bromwich Albion at St Mary's Stadium.
Saturday's clash will be the Saints' second game in a span of four days following Wednesday's crucial 2-0 win over Watford in front of the home crowd, which ended a poor spell of just one win in their last eight top-flight matches.
Shane Long opened the scoring on 17 minutes and Dusan Tadic added the second tally in the 73rd, helping the Saints claim three points and move up to 12th place on 28 points. They are ahead of West Brom (7-6-8) on goal difference.
Saints manager Ronald Koeman praised his team's effort against a difficult Watford side and urged his men to carry their momentum into Saturday.
"It's a good win, in an important moment in the season," he told the club's official website. "We spoke about the situation and about the points and of course our ambition is to be higher on the table in the league and for that this win today but also next Saturday will be very important.
"We know what kind of level we can play and reach if everybody is really focused, and everybody was really focused (against Watford) and we need to continue that for this Saturday."
It's likely to be a tight affair on the south coast as there have been a total of three goals scored in the last five league meetings between these sides, two for Southampton and one for West Brom.
Additionally, Southampton (7-6-8) have been shut out in three straight league matches against West Brom. Their last league goal against the Baggies was an Adam Lallana strike in a 1-0 win in January 2014.
Still, Tadic believes his side is confident ahead of the match.
"This was a really important this win, and now we have much more confidence," Tadic said. "Everyone was feeling good and this is good confidence for us. We really need that, and also the supporters, I think they support us nicely and we give them that win and they deserve that also, because a couple of results at home we didn't give them that. Then we need to prepare for Saturday and do it again."
West Brom are hoping to extend their league unbeaten streak to three matches following Wednesday's entertaining 2-2 draw at Chelsea as James McLean scored the equaliser for the Baggies four minutes from time.
Captain Darren Fletcher praised his side's resiliency to claim a point at the home of the defending champions."I thought it was a fantastic performance against Chelsea," the Baggies talisman said. "We have a never say die attitude at the moment. We showed great character to come from behind yet again to take something from the game.
"I'd like to see us go in front and not have to chase the game, but it is a great sign that we keep digging in right to the end. Credit has to go to the lads, we have an honest, hard-working group of players. We had a tough pre-season so our fitness is very good, but our desire to do well is very strong too."
The sides played out a scoreless draw at The Hawthorns in September. Southampton outshot West Brom 14-8, holding the Baggies to just one shot on target. The Saints held 60 percent of the ball in a match that featured just 10 fouls.