With the international break over, domestic duties return this weekend in the form of Southampton away. With that comes the return of our the ‘Opposition Opinion’, where we bring you the thoughts of a Saints fan ahead of our trip to St Mary’s this Sunday.
As ever, we are looking to gain the view from the other side before this weekend’s game, ‘interviewing’ an opposing fan to gain their feelings towards NUFC, some insights into their club and their thoughts on our upcoming game.
This week we’ve been speaking to Southampton fan Andrew. Here’s what he’s had to say ahead of our clash with the Saints this weekend:
Q1) What have you made of your performances so far this season under your new manager? Interested to know what sort of shape you feel you’re in ahead of Sunday’s game:
“The performance of the team this season, if anything, has got worse than under Claude Puel last season who was lambasted for a terribly boring, toothless style of play.
“We often dominate games and pass the ball fairly well but have no players to cause any damage in the final third – our best chance of scoring these days is from set pieces or penalties.
“In our last game against Stoke we played fairly well technically but had no cutting edge.
“Many Saints fans are becoming extremely frustrated over not playing two up front and that no attacking signings were made this summer.
“If Newcastle go ahead, the atmosphere at the stadium will be toxic.”
Q2) What do you make of our start to the season & Newcastle’s current side? Who do you see as threats & is there any weak links in our team that you feel you could exploit?
“To begin with, I was worried about Newcastle’s performances but I think the press blew things out of proportion with the idea that Benitez was unhappy and could leave.
“Since the first couple of games Newcastle have seemed steady and fairly solid at the back which seems to have got the team back on track.
“I think Shelvey is as good player on his day but often seems to have a bad performance here and there.
“Other than Joselu – who is a great buy – I’m not too worried about Newcastle’s attack. Perez has always been vastly overrated and I don’t see too many goals coming from midfield.”
Q3) Likewise, who do you feel are the strengths & weaknesses in your Southampton side – any players to watch out for on Sunday?
“On paper our defence is very strong. If Bertrand, Van Dijk, Hoedt and Cedric play then it will be tough for Newcastle to break us down.
“Our defensive midfield partnership of Lemina and Romeu has started to gel very nicely and the former looks very impressive. He’ll probably be at a top 4 side in the next couple of years.
“Redmond has been shocking and Shane Long hasn’t scored in the league since last October.
“If Pellegrino plays Gabbiadini and Austin together then we could be in for a few goals, but it seems unlikely due to his stubbornness to play 4-2-3-1.”
Q4) How do you see the match panning out? Score Prediction?
“If we play 2 up front and get an early goal then I think we are due a 2-0 or 3-0 win. However, if you can keep it at 0-0 until half time then there is every chance that you could win the game in the 2nd half.
“My prediction is a 1-1 draw with Joselu scoring after half-time and a late Austin penalty to level things up.”
Q5) How do you see both sides faring over the season? Predictions for rough league position?
“I think both teams should probably focus on the cups. I can see us both finishing roughly between 10th and 14th.
“Don’t think either side is great at the moment but there are worse teams in the league.”
Q6) We appeared to come close to signing your back up left-back Marty Targett on deadline day. What do you make of him? Do you think he would’ve been a good buy for us?
“Targett seemed like another great academy prospect under Koeman but the last couple of years he has really declined.
“He seems keener to take pictures of his holiday in Dubai with his girlfriend than work to get back from his constant injuries!
“When he plays he doesn’t really have much pace but can cross the ball occasionally well.
“I think he would have been a very average buy and probably overpriced too.”
Another good read. It’s always good to hear the thoughts of someone who doesn’t see things through black and white eyes.
Some intriguing bits and pieces from Andrew, who has emphasised the importance of Southampton’s start to the game on Sunday. Given their uninspiring start to the season you get the feeling the first goal could be key here – especially as expects the atmosphere to become ‘toxic’ if we got opener.
That being said, there’s clearly a feeling amongst Saints fans that things could click into gear if they play two up top, with Andrew fancying them to win comfortably IF the under pressure Pellegrino changes his ways on Sunday.
On the NUFC side of things, it was Interesting to see him rate Joselu as a ‘great buy’ – a player who has looked better than we perhaps anticipated since his move from Stoke. His comments on summer target and Saints left-back Matty Targett weren’t as complimentary however, making me quite content that a deal for him didn’t go through on deadline-day!
As always, we’d like to thank opposition fan Andrew for his time and the insightful read he’s given us. We look forward to seeing how we get on against his Southampton side during our ‘Super Sunday’ encounter at St Mary’s this weekend!
We’ll be back this time next week with the thoughts of a Crystal Palace fan ahead of our clash with Roy Hodgson’s men at St James’.