Club News

STAT PACK: Can Gardner win midfield battle with Saints?

Facts and figures ahead of Saturday's clash at St Mary's (ko 3pm)

ONLY a late equaliser denied Albion a win on the opening day of the Barclays Premier League season, and this weekend they go on the road to face a Southampton side who were also hit by a goal at the tail end of their first match.  

Here, football statistics website analyse where the upcoming clash could be won and lost.

It was a happy competitive debut for new signing Craig Gardner last weekend, as only goalscoring hero Saido Berahino registered a higher WhoScored rating for the Baggies, as they came within five minutes of beginning Alan Irvine's reign with a win.

Berahino's 7.91 was the only score better than Gardner's 7.53, as the midfielder made his former club pay for letting him go this summer, setting up Albion's second of the afternoon with an inch-perfect cross. 

A run of matches in the team will likely benefit Gardner hugely, after he had struggled for consistency last season having been shifted in and out of the team.

Gardner looked lively and his performance indicates he has reached full fitness already. As his heat-map shows, he was everywhere last Saturday afternoon at The Hawthorns.

He had touches of the ball around both penalty areas, and while although the majority of his work was clearly in an attacking sense, he was also vitally important in front of his own defence, breaking up play with consistency and efficiency throughout. His WhoScored strength, calculated based on statistics from this season and last, of 'blocking the ball', was plain to see.

Gardner also pulled out wide to use his crossing ability with regularity, with a large proportion of his touches (indicated by the dark red patches) coming out towards the left flank. It was from there that his assist originated, too.

He could well be key again this weekend. The Baggies may have lost this fixture 1-0 last season, but only the campaign before were they comfortable 3-0 victors at St Mary's. It is early days in Gardner's Baggies career, but early signs hint he will be an important player.

The midfield battle with the likes of Morgan Schneiderlin and Victor Wanyama will be a tough one, but among Gardner's intermittent appearances last season was one in which he appeared from the bench with his side losing to Saints, where he went on to set up the equaliser and grab a point. 

After his performance last week, it is not premature to expect more of the same tomorrow.

* 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 chieftant @alitweedale on Twitter.

All-time results record (League, FA Cup and League Cup)


AWAY36 4 





Interesting facts

Albion have never won their first away game of a Barclays Premier League campaign, having drawn four and lost three.

Shane Long scored 22 goals in 87 appearances for the Baggies between August 2011 and January 2014.

The Saints finished eighth in the Premier League last season while Albion placed the same position a year earlier.

Chris Baird enjoyed nine years with Southampton before moving to Fulham. He made 79 appearances for the club, including their 2003 FA Cup Final defeat by Arsenal.

Last time out

HOME: Barclays Premier League, Saturday, August 17, 2013, Albion 0 Southampton 1 (Lambert pen 90)
AWAY: Barclays Premier League, Saturday, January 11, 2014, Southampton 1 (Lallana 66) Albion 0

Form guide (last six league matches)

Last league match line-ups

ALBION (v Sunderland – home D 2-2): Foster, Wisdom, Dawson, Olsson, Pocognoli, Mulumbu, Gardner (Yacob 84), Dorrans (Sessegnon 84), Berahino, Brunt (c) (Baird 76), Anichebe. Subs not used: Myhill (gk), Ideye, Davidson, O’Neil.

SOUTHAMPTON (v Liverpool – away L 2-1): Forster; Clyne, Fonte (c), Yoshida, Bertrand, Wanyama, Schneiderlin, Steven Davis (Isgrove 82), Ward-Prowse, Tadić (Long 73), Pellè. Subs not used: Davis (gk), Taïder, Cork, Hooiveld, Stephens.

Southampton team news

Gaston Ramirez remains a doubt with a knee injury while Florin Gardos could return from a hamstring problem.

Ref watch

Roger East will referee Saturday's game. The Wiltshire official last oversaw the Baggies a year ago this weekend in a goalless draw at Everton. He dished out 102 yellow and two red cards in 29 games last term.


Selected odds from Sky Bet:

Southampton to win: 17/20

Albion to win: 3/1

Draw: 13/5

Saido Berahino to score first: 7/1

Shane Long to score first: 9/2

If you fancy a flutter with the club's official online betting partner, click here.


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