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Premier League Preview: West Brom v Southampton

15 August 2013 21:40

Nicolas Anelka's latest Premier League career chapter begins on Saturday when West Brom start the new season by hosting Southampton.

The experienced striker, who has played for five Premier League clubs, including Arsenal, Manchester City and Chelsea, is back in the English top flight after an 18-month absence following his arrival at the Midlands club in July.

Anelka is one of three new West Brom signings, with Diego Lugano and promising youngster Matej Vydra also joining from Paris-Saint Germain and Udinese respectively, with the latter on a season-long loan deal.

And head coach Steve Clarke has already seen 34-year-old Anelka prove he remains a prolific finisher by netting seven goals in as many friendly games for the club.

Clarke will be hoping the Frenchman can make an instant impact on his return to the Premier League as West Brom look to build on last season's eighth-place finish.

History is on West Brom's side as they are unbeaten against Southampton at home since May 1984

But Mauricio Pochettino's men have their own plans, and, after returning to the Premier League after a seven-year absence last season, are targeting a top-10 finish.

Southampton have new signings to showcase, too, with Croatia international Dejan Lovren and former Celtic midfielder Victor Wanyama both available to the Argentine ahead of his first full campaign in charge.

The 41-year-old has a number of injury doubts, though, as he has concerns over young defenders Luke Shaw and Nathaniel Clyne, with the former suffering from a knee injury sustained during a 4-3 friendly win over Real Sociedad on Saturday.

While Pochettino has confirmed that the pair could feature if they train well on Friday, internationals Gaston Ramirez and Maya Yoshida, who played for Uruguay and Japan respectively in Rifu in midweek, will be assessed.

The duo were two of seven Southampton players called up for international duty, but Rickie Lambert, Steven Davis, Artur Boruc, Emmanuel Mayuka and Lovren all came through their Europe-based friendlies unscathed.

West Brom also saw a number of their players in action for their countries, but while Clarke plans to assess them, he has no major concerns ahead of the fixture.

"At this stage I'm not aware of any injury problems heading into the weekend. The doctor will assess the internationals," the Scot said.

"We probably go into the game as slight favourites, whereas last year we kicked off against Liverpool at home and everyone expected them to win.

"This season it's slightly different because the fact we finished eighth last season will mean teams will come to us now and make it difficult for us.

"It's up to us to combat that - we have to find another level."

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Premier League table

# Team MP D P
2 4 +3 10
3 4 +3 9
4 4 +5 7
5 4 +3 7
6 4 +2 7

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