“May Be Nervy” – The Real EFL Pundits Predict Southampton vs West Bromwich Albion

Southampton host West Bromwich Albion tomorrow night in the Championship play-off semi-final with a place at Wembley Stadium up for grabs.

The tie is nicely poised following a drab 0-0 draw in the first leg at the Hawthorns. Both teams will now be confident of stealing the win, although the Saints will head into the fixture as favourites.

The stalemate on Sunday was perhaps unsurprising, with both teams ending the regular season in identical form. However, Southampton gave themselves a morale boosting win on the final day as they emerged with a 2-1 victory against Leeds United at Elland Road. As a result, Russell Martin’s men may be considered favourites to earn a place in the Premier League.

They have to overcome a resilient West Brom side first though. The Hampshire-based side won both league meetings between the pair this season, although that will count for naught here. Despite off-field issues, the Baggies have been within the top six for the majority of the campaign, which is a testament to the job which Carlos Corberan has done.

Similar to Norwich City at Leeds, they can head into the clash at St Mary’s with the pressure firmly on the shoulders of their opponents. This could be a more open game than the one we witnessed at the weekend.

Here’s how two of The Real EFL’s writing team see the game panning out…

Jamie Ward

“Southampton arguably have the advantage after coming away from the Hawthorns with a draw on Sunday. However, that could suit West Brom. 

“The Saints may be nervy heading into this clash. Promotion is more crucial for them at this stage and this could play into the visitors hands. Don’t anticipate either team to go for the jugular.

“With so much at stake, one goal could settle this. If the Baggies grab the initiative, they could sit back and try and protect their lead, which would frustrate the hosts. However, Russell Martin will be relying on the quality he possesses within his team to see him through. Expect them to take the lead and add another towards the end as West Brom search for an equaliser.”

Southampton 2-0 West Bromwich Albion

Ivan Newsome

“Neither side could gain the advantage in the first leg, leaving the tie wide open for the return fixture at St. Mary’s. Given Southampton are the home side, they’re probably the slight favourites however West Brom cannot be ruled out following their performance on Sunday.

“It’s fair to say that both goalkeepers were perhaps the standout players of the first leg, both making important saves to keep the scores level. They’ll expect to be even busier this time around with both teams looking to get on the offensive early.

“I’ve got a hunch that this tie has penalties written all over it, with both sides cancelling each other out in regulation as well as extra time. Russell Martin has been vocal that he has had his side practicing for a shootout over the last few weeks and that could count for a lot in a scenario like this.”

Southampton 1-1 West Bromwich Albion (Southampton win on penalties)

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