Birmingham Mail journalist Joseph Chapman gives us the lowdown on the Baggies, ahead of Saints’ trip to The Hawthorns on Saturday…
How would you assess West Brom’s survival prospects on current form?
There's quite an odd feeling about the place at the moment – with Alan Pardew finally, in recent weeks, appearing to have an effect on the side, it's coincided with the club slipping to the bottom of the league. The win at Liverpool in the FA Cup was as well as the Baggies have played in a long time. They're starting to score goals and have had a positive transfer window.
How has the team’s approach changed under Alan Pardew, and have performances improved?
From the first match, performances have improved. The football was becoming unwatchable under Tony Pulis, whose marriage with the club had run its course. Though results didn't pick up immediately, the FA Cup win at Exeter seemed to remind the players how to win a game of football. They've won two and drawn one of the four matches since.
What was the general reaction to the signing of Daniel Sturridge on loan from Liverpool?
Sheer delight – with a touch of caution. Bringing in a striker of Sturridge's calibre has given Pardew, the fanbase and most likely the dressing room a welcome lift. His experience and scoring record speak for themselves, so Albion need to get him up and running as quickly as possible. His injury record is well documented of course, so Sturridge will need to be handled carefully.
Who have been Albion’s standout players of late?
Jonny Evans is a class act, and his transfer suitors are well known – yet Ahmed Hegazi has been imperious in recent weeks. The towering Egyptian has found his feet in the Premier League and now looks like he's been playing in the division for a number of years. Elsewhere, Salomon Rondon has been playing well without scoring, and the midfield trio of Grzegorz Krychowiak, Chris Brunt and Gareth Barry have excelled. Then there's Jay Rodriguez, which brings us onto the next question...
How has Jay Rodriguez performed in his debut season at The Hawthorns?
Having started really brightly, when he scored a couple of goals in league and cup, Rodriguez faded under Pulis in the months of October and November. Since, though, he's rediscovered form, which has coincided with Albion's upturn as a collective. J-Rod has five in his last six games, and I wouldn't put another one past him on Saturday!
What do you expect from the game on Saturday?
It'll be an emotional occasion – it's the first game at The Hawthorns since the death of Cyrille Regis and the club has a whole host of tributes planned pre-match, some of which Saints fans are invited to join in. As regards to the game, the importance of it – on either side of the fence – can't be underestimated. It took a bit of a wonder goal to separate the sides in the reverse fixture, and I can see a similarly tight affair, with plenty of nerves. Perhaps a goal either way? A draw really is no good to either side.