Southampton-West Brom Preview
LONDON (SE) - West Bromwich Albion welcome struggling Southampton to The Hawthorns on Monday evening in the final game of the latest round of Premier League matches.
The Saints have picked up just four points from nine games, with only winless Queens Park Rangers keeping them off the bottom of the table. However, ever-positive manager Nigel Adkins insists he is not feeling the pressure.
"I'm loving the challenge, you only know once you're in a situation how you are going to react and face it," said Adkins. "After the West Ham defeat there was a half-hour period which I didn't like but I'm loving the challenge that we are faced with, it is what you want to be in football for. We are ambitious, we want to be winners and we are used to being winners - we are now faced with a different challenge but it is one that we embrace, we look forward to it.
"Nobody said it was going to be easy, this is what we are in football for, we are pushing ourselves to the limit. We can go one of two ways - we can either hide behind situations and crumble or we can face everything up, stick our chests out and we can be positive in what we do.
"Before we even kicked a football I think I was the favourite to be sacked. So every week there is a question about that and it doesn't faze me one iota, I'm very, very ambitious and we are very ambitious here at Southampton - what will be in football will be."
West Brom have enjoyed an excellent start to the season under new manager Steve Clarke, with 14 points from their nine games helping them into the top half of the Premier League. With the joint-second best home record in the division, the Baggies are expected to win on Monday, but defender Liam Ridgewell is aware of how tough the game is going to be.
"People are expecting us to win but Southampton will be difficult opponents," said Ridgewell. "There isn't any pressure on them. We'll be expected to win the game and we need to make sure we do that and get the points.
"We also have something to prove ourselves after our last two games. We need to bounce back against Southampton and make sure we don't kick start their season. Three defeats on the bounce wouldn't be good for us."
West Brom have doubts over Shane Long, Claudio Yacob and Steven Reid - all with hamstring injuries. Southampton's Gaston Ramirez (thigh) and Jack Cork (knee) may return from injury lay-offs.
Only Manchester City (13) have picked up more points at home than West Brom's 12 this season, while Southampton are the only team in the division yet to pick up a point away from home. The Saints have conceded 16 goals in 4 away games. The 26 goals conceded in nine games for Southampton is the worst defensive record in the English top flight since West Brom let in 28 in 1985.