West Brom Home
Manager Koeman has a record of always including his best players for the job at hand, provided they are fit enough. Wanyama was available again to face West Bromwich, so in he came, although some fans had misgivings; there remain doubts about Pellè’s immediate fitness, so he was on the bench, where he was joined by Romeu, who has been performing particularly well; Clasie, having completed his first 90 minute game for the club in midweek, had a rest. As well as falling foul of Wanyama’s return, Romeu was also overlooked in favour of Ward-Prowse, and that proved to be a very good decision within five minutes when Mané won free kick near the edge of the box and Ward-Prowse at last converted one of these opportunities after a number of close calls. West Brom were expected to be difficult opponents to break down, so an early lead was welcome, although Ward-Prowse was in some rare action at the Southampton end and was just about adjudged to have got enough of the ball in an awkward challenge on Gardner. Targett in midfield is a new experience for everyone, and that includes opponents who don’t know what to expect when he gets forward – Dawson was unable to cope and conceded a 35th minute penalty. Ward-Prowse is entrusted to spot kick duties in the England U21 set up, so that got him the job ahead of Mané, and as Myhill dived very early to his left, the ball was duly despatched into the other corner. It could have been even better before the break but McClean kicked Target’s effort off the line to keep his team’s interest in the contest alive. The visitors made two changes at the interval, but Saints remained on top and increased their lead through Tadić who now finds himself being used as an impact substitute. Romeu got deserved pitch time for the closing stages but Albion’s half time changes plus the introduction of striker Berahino meant that there was no opportunity for Lambert to make a sentimental return – it would be interesting to know what he thought of Ward-Prowse’s fine free kick that set the game going. A couple of wins in a week suggests a mid-January revival, but in fact the last three home league games have yielded nine points, and with nine goals for and none against.
LSSC Man of the Match: Steven Davis, just ahead of Long in a close decision; both players could claim an assist in the Tadic goal, but Davis might just have contributed more.