So after a massive off-season and a decent start to the season against Sunderland, I travelled to Southampton with no real expectation if I’m honest.
The promising side of things was that it was this time just a year ago that Anelka was going to retire as we geared up for a 0-0 against Everton at Goodison that day. Thankfully we have no such worries this term.
Albion remained unchanged and rightly so. We played well a week ago and ultimately with options we had it was difficult to do much. I was hopeful of seeing Ideye and obviously the game had come too soon for Jonathan Greening’s younger brother.
Southampton, well, they’ve lost everyone but still managed to field a strong side, what no-one has noticed is they have signed some good quality despite losing obvious talent. They, on paper are still a tough side to beat. A point here was always going to be a good result, not many will get that.
I’m going to struggle to get much in here. It was two sides nullifying each other and neither wanted to go all out and take the game to the other. We both played off mistakes instead of going and creating them we waited for them.
Saints went down the sides well. They seemingly lack something up top and I don’t think Pelle or Long will give them what they need. They played off Wisdom, who I think has a wobble in him – he drifts inside and becomes central allowing a switch of play.
As you can tell not much happened. Gardner, Mulumbu and Dorrans played well in the middle, but no better than their counter parts. We lacked that killer pass to get in behind. Dorrans had an early attempt blocked and Anichebe picked up an injury which meant he lost a lot of duels to the centre halves but he played on.
Saints never really attacked us. Bertrand and Clyne could have posed us so many issues 1v1 but they consistently came inside and allowed the Gardner/Mulumbu partnership to break up play.
Meanwhile, behind them Poco was solid again. Olsson misjudged a couple of headers but did well and Dawson won everything he had to. Wisdom was the only one in the back 4 I worried about and he gifted Saints a couple of chances as the half went on.
The first was a mix up between Foster and Wisdom. A long ball over the top saw Foster call for it, because it didn’t have the legs to get into the box Wisdom knocked the ball past him but Tadic was first to the ball to cross into Pelle. The cross was just over his head and Albion got rid. It was good to see Dawson cover on the line and Olsson shape up so if he got the header it was going away from goal, promising signs from the two CBs. Poco also cover back post area well.
The second was actually what I like about Wisdom. He got beat by Clyne but recovered well to block the cross, Berahino took time over the clearance which was blocked and that allowed Ward-Prowse to head into the path of Tadic who saw his low effort saved by Foster and Dawson cleared.
Shane Long arrived to a chorus of away fan boos – many stayed silent but boos were clear. He went wide, somewhere Clarke had deployed him in a WBA shirt.
Brown Ideye then arrived on the scene for the injured Anchiebe and the reaction amongst Baggies fans was massive. There was real hope for the big money man and he looked lively from the off.
Poco gave him a big chance when he overlapped Brunt to deliver a good cross to the back post but the angle was tough for the new number 9 and he could only direct his header into the side-netting but it was all promising.
Downside to that move was Poco had to go off. He had picked up a knock trying to hammer the ball out in the first half (and then got roundly booed by Southampton) but in putting the ball in he must have done something to his quad as the medical staff went, he got treatment it was clear his day was over and in came Jason Davidson.
Early thoughts on Davidson, he is extremely left footed. I’d like to see more of him as I’m not overly convinced early doors but his one footedness was clear from his first kick.
Mulumbu then showed the footballing world why he can’t get into a better club than ours. He conceded a silly free kick which was given away in shooting distance after he and Brunt forced play backwards. He needlessly stuck his leg in from behind and gifted Ward-Prowse a shot.
The shot was decent, I’d like to think Foster had it covered as it curled away and smacked the upright but it was a nervy moment from the away end in a game of very few promising moments.
The most promising moment of all was yet to arrive though. Dorrans and Ideye linked up well and Ideye turned beautifully away from Saints defenders and got a shot off but Forster showed his worth staying big and denying a goal.
It was probably a fair result and a good result at that. This was two sides in transitional periods both not wanting to lose. I would like to think there are more positives for us to take from the game and we will get better in time.
Defensively we did well. Set pieces are still a little wary but overall the shape and position of the midfield in comparison to the back 4 was spot on. I think Gamboa may add to us and if we can get Lescott in (and I think he may partner Dawson) then we may even improve further so lots of promise there.
In midfield areas it’ll be interesting to see where Varela fits in? A winger which is understandable but Saido has just put in a MOTM performance and Brunt is the captain so where will he fit in? Gardner and Mulumbu look like they are good together and Dorrans is providing some positive runs and movement and keeping Sess out of the team.
Up top, Anichebe looked good before his injury but he won’t get the goals we desire. Berahino can obviously fill in there and Samaras could offer another Anichebe style hold up play with more movement. Ideye is the bloke we all care about though, he has pace, he makes some intelligent runs, based on yesterday, and I think he will pose a goal threat throughout matches.
So many positives, the squad is almost complete and we have provided some good on the ball play as well as keeping an important clean sheet. Just need to win games because of the end of season fixtures, hopefully Ideye could be the match winner we lack.
Come on you Baggies
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