Premier League: West Brom entertain Southampton on the opening day
Last Updated: 16/08/13 3:45pm
Rickie Lambert: Scored 15 Premier League goals last season
England hero Rickie Lambert will be the centre of attention when Southampton travel to West Brom on the opening day of the new Premier League season.
The Saints striker came off the bench to score the winning goal with his first touch on his international debut as England beat Scotland 3-2 in Wednesday's international friendly at Wembley.
Lambert scored 15 league goals last season and the visitors will be looking to him for more as they hunt their first victory at The Hawthorns since 1984.
Southampton struggled against West Brom last season, losing the away fixture 2-0 in early November and then going down 3-0 at St Mary's in late April.
The latter result was Albion's only victory in in the last nine games of the 2012/13 campaign. Southampton also finished weakly, failing to win any of their last six.
Having lost the services of on-loan Chelsea ace Romelu Lukaku, Baggies boss Steve Clarke has brought in former France striker Nicolas Anelka to lead their attack. Another new addition, Matej Vydra, is also vying for a place up front along with Shane Long. Peter Odemwingie, who netted both goals in this fixture last season, will not be involved as he continues to seek a move elsewhere.
Like Clarke, Saints boss Mauricio Pochettino has managed to keep all his first-team stars this summer but the Spaniard has also been allowed to shell out just over £20million on Kenya midfielder Victor Wanyama and Croatia defender Dejan Lovren. Both new signings could make their competitive debuts on Saturday.
Albion kicked off the 2012/13 campaign with an impressive 3-0 home win over Liverpool, bucking a trend of otherwise poor starts. Southampton traditionally start even more slowly, however - they have won only one of their previous 14 games on the opening day of the Premier League season.
PAUL MERSON PREDICTS: 1-1
This will be a tight game between two teams who had good seasons last year and you wouldn't be surprised which one finishes above the other this season. Rickie Lambert will be on a high and a comedown at the same time after his England debut on Wednesday night and everybody will be looking at him. The newspapers will be doing "Lambert watch" or whatever, so it'll be interesting to see how he reacts.
West Brom will miss Romalu Lukaku, but Shane Long is a good player and Nicolas Anelka is there now. I played with him at Arsenal and I thought he'd go on to be one of the best of the best, but you get to a certain age in football and you only get worse. As great as Ryan Giggs is, he's nowhere near as good as he was 10 years ago. It'll be interesting how much they use him because if he fires he'll do damage, but he's at the wrong age for me.
Nicolas Anelka is set to make his competitive West Brom debut.
The 34-year-old, scorer of seven pre-season goals for Albion since joining in July, is one of three new faces added to the squad this summer along with fellow striker Matej Vydra and defender Diego Lugano, both of whom could also be involved in the campaign-opening game.
Wantaway frontman Peter Odemwingie has trained apart from the first team this summer and seems certain not to get a look in, while midfielders Zoltan Gera and George Thorne (both knee) are not yet ready for selection after their injuries.
Southampton boss Mauricio Pochettino could be without two of his first-choice full-backs at The Hawthorns.
Both Nathaniel Clyne and Luke Shaw are struggling with knocks picked up in the latter stages of pre-season and are rated as doubtful. Shaw (knee) is the most likely of the two youngsters to be involved, with Clyne still recovering from a problem he sustained in Austria.
England's latest goalscorer Lambert is expected to lead the line but the fitness of Gaston Ramirez and Maya Yoshida was expected to be judged later on Friday after they travelled long-haul for midweek internationals.
Barclays Premier League
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West Brom v Southampton
Mauricio Pochettino believes Southampton's win over West Brom at the Hawthorns was no less than his side deserved.
Steve Clarke bemoaned what he described as a "very soft" penalty that consigned his side to defeat against Southampton.
Southampton match-winner Rickie Lambert has described the past week as possibly the best of his life.
- Lambert gives Saints victory
- Davis: Pressure is mounting
- Odemwingie gives Clarke credit
- Adkins defiant despite defeat
- Buoyant Baggies
- Clarke hails Baggies players
- Foster targets 40-point mark
- Odemwingie brace sinks Saints
- Ramirez return lifts Adkins
- Clarke hopes Long will be fit
- Dorrans ready for Southampton
- Olsson keen to stay positive