Get the lowdown on Saturday's opener with the Saints (ko 3pm)THIS season Albion have teamed up with WhoScored.com and their statisticians have been crunching the numbers ahead of this weekend’s season opener against Southampton (ko 3pm).
2-0 and 3-0 victories for Albion in November and April, respectively, contributed six points towards their most impressive Barclays Premier League season to date, and tomorrow the campaign to build on that begins.
In both games, Saints dominated possession by some margin (57% and 62%), but Steve Clarke's side pulled off counter-attacking wins to superb effect, allowing their opponents time on the ball high up the field before hitting them on the break. Only four teams (Arsenal (7), Villa (6), Tottenham (6) and Manchester City (6)) scored more goals on the counter in the Premier League last season than the Baggies (5).
With Claudio Yacob and Youssouf Mulumbu in central midfield, Clarke knows his team have the defensive strength and nous to soak up pressure and then the pace and incisiveness up front to attack at speed. With the addition of Nicolas Anelka this summer, that could be all the more obvious this season.
After a brief hiatus from European football in China, Serie A champions Juventus snapped him up for the second half of last season before his return to the Barclays Premier League with the Baggies. A player who has won just about everything - domestic doubles with both Arsenal and Chelsea, the Champions League with Real Madrid and the European Championship with France to name a few - Anelka brings vast amounts of experience with him to The Hawthorns.
He played four times in Chelsea's successful Champions League campaign in 2011/12, and featured heavily for the side as they won the Barclays Premier League in 2009/10, scoring 11 goals and setting up seven more, and he followed that up with ten more goals and assists in the following league campaign.
The well-travelled Frenchman has scored goals wherever he has gone and at every level. Few players can boast 28 goals in European competition like him, while he also has 69 international caps and 14 goals to his name.
Clearly a player of serious pedigree, Anelka will add much threat to an already dangerous Albion attack - and below are his stats from his last full Barclays Premier League campaign (2010/11).
*WhoScored.com is a unique website and one of the fastest growing in the sports industry, specialising in the in-depth analysis of detailed football data. Provided with unique stats, they compile and create comprehensive analysis on the major European divisions, including live match stats and player ratings. Follow @WhoScored and their editor-in-chief @alitweedale on Twitter.
The Baggies have never played a team who finished below them the previous season in their opening game of a Premier League campaign. Past opening-day clashes include Liverpool, Manchester United twice, Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester City and Blackburn.