12/09/2015: West Brom 0-0 Saints
Saints put in another dull away display showing at The Hawthorns. Ronald Koeman's side just about edged it on the balance of play, but didn't show enough quality or ambition in the final third.
The action was quite congested during the first 15 minutes of the game. Saints were far too slow moving the ball forward. Koeman's men attempted to attack from out wide, with the full-backs getting forward to support wide-men Dusan Tadic and Jay Rodriguez. West Brom moved the ball slightly quicker, but neither side caused too many problems going forward.
On 16 West Brom appeared to have a good penalty claim when Matt Targett hacked down Callum McManaman. At the ground it appeared blatant, as it did in countless replays, but play was waived on. Tony Pulis bizarrely accused his own player of diving afterwards, when it was anything but.
West Brom remained on top for the remainder of the first-half. Craig Dawson headed over from a corner on 26. Craig Gardner's deflected 30th minute shot was easy for Maarten Stekelenburg to gather. Saints did improve slightly towards the end of the first 45. Rodriguez nodded just wide under pressure on 37 from Tadic's cross. Tadic put in another swerving cross a few minutes later which evaded everyone.
Saints were a bit more positive during the second half. The visitors dominated the ball without creating too many clear cut chances. On 54 Rodriguez's deflected shot went straight to Boaz Myhill. Salomon Rondon then fired over inside the area at the other end. McManaman shot over on 60 after Steven Davis had given the ball away during Saints' counter attack.
James Ward-Prowse had several opportunities from just outside the area, but was completely wasteful. All of his efforts were either blocked or too high. Substitute Sadio Mane hooked on to a poor Albion goal-kick, but took the ball slightly too far to the right before smashing wide of the near post. Saints switched to 3-5-2 late on, but it made little difference. Tadic had one final tame effort just before stoppage time.
Another completely forgettable game. Saints were unable to maintain the attacking fluency they displayed against Norwich. It was very boring to watch, when it really shouldn't have been. Saints have enough exciting players going forward to play effective and attractive football. Our transitional play has been atrocious of late. Several times we had opportunities to punish West Brom on the counter, but indecisiveness proved costly. On the plus side Saints performed well as a defensive unit and Virgil van Dijk looked very capable at the back.
Stekelenburg: 6. Nearly gifted West Brom a golden opening with a dropped catch in the 2nd half, but otherwise didn't have much to do
Cedric: 5. A few misplaced passes early on. Got to the byline a couple of times, but overall didn't really offer enough of an attacking threat
Fonte: 6. Made a couple of slack passes, but generally looked assured on the ball
van Dijk: 7. A solid start from the Dutchman. Looked comfortable in possession, making a few no nonsense clearances early on too
Targett: 5. Fortunate not to give away a penalty in the first-half. Apart from that did ok defensively. Not involved that much at the other end
Wanyama: 6. Offered decent protection to the back four, but very little of the usual dynamism. Sometimes lackadaisical in possession
Ward-Prowse: 5. Always showing for the ball, but disappointing in the attacking third
Davis: 5. As with Ward-Prowse, didn't offer enough offensively
Tadic: 6. Showed some trickery in spells, just not clinical enough
Rodriguez: 5. Had a few half-chances, but fairly quiet on the whole
Pelle: 6. Worked hard, dropping back to good effect. Not involved in too many goal scoring opportunities, although that was mostly down to lack of service
Mane: 5. Made a couple of good bursts, but overall wasn't really on it. Usual excellent first touch deserted him
Yoshida: 5. Not involved too much
Referee: Stuart Attwell
West Brom line-up: Myhill, McAuley, Evans (Olsson 85), Brunt, Gardner, Fletcher, Yacob, McManaman (McClean 60), Lambert (Berahino 55), Rondon
Subs not used: Lindegaard, Chester, Morrison, Gnabry
Saints line-up: Stekelenburg, Cedric (Yoshida 75), Fonte, van Dijk, Targett, Wanyama, Ward-Prowse, S Davis, Tadic, Rodriguez (Mane 67), Pelle
Subs not used: K Davis, Caulker, Romeu, Juanmi, Long