Birmingham Mail journalist Joseph Chapman gives us the lowdown on Southampton's next opponents, West Bromwich Albion, ahead of Saturday's clash at the Hawthorns.
How would you sum up the season so far for West Brom?
Splendid. To have passed last season's points tally already, and to have scored more goals already too, all the while playing a much better brand of football, is a commendable achievement.
The club recruited intelligently in both windows and are reaping the rewards. A top-half finish now is really the minimum expectation.
What is the form like at the moment?
It could be better, if we're being greedy – the defeats to Crystal Palace and Watford were disappointing. Yet we're about on par with where many expect us to be now; Albion have collected four wins, four draws and three defeats from the last ten games. The home form in particular, bar the Palace defeat, has been almost immaculate.
How would you describe the style of play, and what sort of an approach do you expect to see from the team on Saturday?
Far more adventurous, but they've retained the defensive solidity. Albion have enjoyed more of the ball than their opponents only once this season – so expect Saints to see plenty of it on Saturday! Matt Phillips is likely to return to the starting line-up – he's been missing for around the last six weeks and his absence has been evident.
How important is this game being seen as at the Hawthorns?
While it carries no significance in terms of a battle for Europe or against relegation, it's still deemed as an important fixture in terms of making sure Southampton are kept at arm's length. Eighth place is still up for grabs, but if Albion can nick a win here, they'd have to be in the driving seat. If it's an away win, then the race is wide open.
Who do you think will be the key men for West Brom this Saturday?
Phillips, without a doubt. Without putting too much responsibility on his shoulders, he was excellent during his 45 minutes at Watford. Jonny Evans has been as commanding as ever this season, and Jake Livermore has impressed since arriving at the club from Hull in January.