Southampton supporters in the Transfer Tavern were relatively satisfied with their side after seeing the Saints draw 2-2 at home to Newcastle United last time out, despite twice falling behind to the North East giants.
Mauricio Pellegrino’s men went into their clash at St Mary’s having lost their preceding three home games in all competitions, and they looked set to suffer another one when goals from Isaac Hayden and Ayoze Perez twice gave Rafa Benitez’s Magpies the lead. However, Saints striker Manolo Gabbiadini bagged a brace, the second from the penalty spot after Shane Long was fouled by Florian Lejeune, to preserve a point for the hosts, in turn leaving them two points behind Newcastle after eight games of the campaign.
Overall, our resident Southampton fans were pretty happy with their side’s fight and endeavour against Benitez’s men, and they know that they will be in for another tough clash this weekend when Tony Pulis’ West Brom visit the South Coast.
The Baggies currently sit tenth in the Premier League having won two and drawn four of their opening eight league games, their latest being a 1-1 draw at Leicester City on Monday night, which ultimately paved the way for Craig Shakespeare’s sacking.
And Pulis’ side are well-known for their defensive solidity and resoluteness, which is sure to be a test for a Southampton team that have mustered just seven goals so far in the Premier League this season.
Thus, you’d be forgiven for thinking that this game has 0-0 written all over it, but if the Saints can get Nathan Redmond on the ball in threatening areas, his quality could hold the key for the hosts this weekend.
And that’s because, although he has yet to score this season, the 23-year-old has done reasonably well in the attacking third, and the statistics suggest that the £13.5 million-rated ace (as per Transfermarkt) has been the most threatening of Southampton’s attacker this season.
The England international has created more chances (19) and averages more per game (2.4) than any other player who has donned the red and white this season, while his tally of two assists is more than the rest of the squad put together – Shane Long is the only other player to have registered one so far.
But it’s not just the creation of chances, it’s also his play in the final third, as Redmond averages more shots per game than anyone else (2.9), and only midfielder Mario Lemina (2.5) completes more dribbles per game than the 23-year-old (2).
Thus, so not only is Redmond the one creating most of the opportunities, he is also the one threatening from open play when on the ball, and against a West Brom side who are usually very strong defensively, this could be vital.
The Baggies are particularly strong aerially with the likes of Jonny Evans and Ahmed Hegazi, but as Leicester proved at times on Monday, they are susceptible to pace down the flanks, especially the latter.
As such, Pellegrino and Southampton must look to Redmond to stretch that backline and find the pockets of space to create opportunities – the numbers are there, it’s just a case of turning those into meaningful goals and assists.
And the Saints will need him to be at his best to unlock West Brom on Saturday.
Southampton fans… what do you think? Let us know!