West Brom-Southampton Preview

TOM BENNETT (STATS European Football Writer)
The Associated Press

Southampton will be looking for just their second win in nine Premier League games as they welcome West Bromwich Albion to St Mary's on Saturday.

Mauricio Pochettino's Southampton (7-6-7) started the season like a train, but just one win since mid-November has seen the Saints slip back into mid-table. The disappointing run of form has all-but ended the south coast club's chances of competing for the major European qualification spots - resulting in increased transfer speculation around their star players - but Pochettino insists that none of the big names will be moving.

"I've been here for a year and Rickie (Lambert) has been linked with a move many times," said Pochettino. "I am relaxed about that situation. We have no news on offers being made for Luke Shaw or Dani Osvaldo either, so there's nothing for me to comment on.

"In principle we don't have any intention to sign players this month. We still have 22 days left in the transfer window so we may change our minds but at the moment we don't have any business planned."

West Brom (4-9-7) went unbeaten over the festive period, but three draws in the four games means they are very much still in the relegation mix. The Baggies go into the latest round of matches just four points clear of Crystal Palace in 18th, but caretaker manager Keith Downing believes his spell in charge of the squad has been beneficial.

"Hopefully we've changed a little bit of momentum," said Downing. "I was always reluctant to step into Steve Clarke's shoes because I had a high regard for him. It was with a heavy heart to start with but obviously you have a job to do.

"I've always stated I wanted to come out of it with a decent reputation, with integrity, hopefully those who had never really heard of me have appreciated the kind of respect I've shown."

Southampton have injury doubts over Lambert (hip), Gaston Ramirez (hamstring), Victor Wanyama (calf) and Artur Boruc (broken hand), while West Brom have fitness concerns over Youssouf Mulumbu (eye), Billy Jones (concussion) and Victor Anichebe (groin).

A solid defence was the bedrock of Southampton's stunning start to the season, with just three goals conceded and six clean sheets in their first nine league games. However, they have conceded 20 and kept just one clean sheet in the last 11.

West Brom have drawn six games away from home, more than any other team in the Premier League. The Baggies, though, have only one road victory.

The Saints won 1-0 when these teams met at the Hawthorns on the opening weekend of the season, with Lambert scoring the only goal. That was Southampton's first win over West Brom in four meetings, with the Baggies winning both league meetings last season by a combined score of 5-0.

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