Southampton vs Newcastle: pre-match thoughts, team news & predicted line-ups

With World Cup fates being sealed left, right and centre, the latest international break was a little more bearable than usual, however the return of Premier League football is a welcome one as always.

Our trip to St Mary’s is not only a long one, but one we’ve often struggled in if recent history is anything to go by. We’ve lost our last four by an aggregate score of 13-1, conceding 11 in our last three – not that I expect this current side to fold like previous ones clearly have done over the years.

Quite incredibly, Southampton have failed to score in eight of their last nine home Premier League matches, with the exception being a 3-2 win against West Ham in August.

In contrast we’ve conceded just 10 goals in our last 13 Premier League games under Benitez – never conceding more than twice in a match. The last time we shipped three in a top flight game was our last visit to St Mary’s, being the 3-1 defeat in April 2016 – famously remembered for Jamaal Lascelles’ half-time rant aimed at those he believed ‘did not care enough’.

It’s interestingly poised this one. Southampton are a decent footballing side, but as the remarkable stat above suggests, they’ve been seriously short of goals at home for a while now. We ourselves have only scored 1 goal in three away from home this season, so whilst we should be looking to stay organised and frustrate a toothless looking Southampton attack, I’m hoping to see a little more cutting edge from us in the final third – especially when there’s so much to suggest this one could be settled by the odd goal.

It is worth noting that Southampton manager Mauricio Pellegrino was Benitez’s understudy for several years in Italy and also played under the Spaniard at Liverpool. Rafa has admitted that this may give Sunday’s opposition manager a slight insight into our tactical approach, however Benitez has responded to this potential advantage brilliantly as ever – “He knows everything about me so he has an advantage. But then he was my player, so maybe I know all about him!”

The Team

Rafa made a habit of rotating his side each week last season, but with our schedule being far more spread out than it was last year, Benitez has made far less regular changes and I’m not anticipating many once again this weekend. We could well see the same side who earned a hard fought draw against Liverpool two weeks ago.

Lejeune is going to be a first choice centre back before long, but Rafa has been given no reason to drop either of Lascelles or Clark in recent weeks – unless of course the latter has come back from international duty with Ireland a little worse for wear.

With Dummett out injured, Mbemba has often been our stand in left-back for most of the season, however he was dropped form the squad last time out, seeing Javier Manquillo fill in. The Spaniard did relatively well against the in-form Mo Salah and given he has spent the last two weeks training on Tyneside while Mbemba has been on international duty with Congo, there’s every chance Manquillo will keep his place. He’s perhaps not as solid defensively as Mbemba, but Benitez likes ‘balance’ and Manquillo is the more natural full-back of the two.

Yedlin has had a long and disappointing trip away on international duty, seeing the USA fail to qualify for the World Cup this week. He will have been back on Tyneside in good time for Sunday’s game, but there’s a slim chance he’s rested by Rafa given he’s played 3 hours of football since his outstanding performance against Liverpool. Hopefully not, but you never know with Benitez.

Now to the midfield. Hayden was poor at Brighton in our last away game, paving the way for the exciting partnership of Shelvey and Merino to be tested against Liverpool. Given we were not overrun by a very attack minded Liverpool side, there’s no reason why the pair won’t continue in the middle of midfield this weekend.

Following the Liverpool draw, Atsu and Ritchie were both forced to withdraw from international duty with Ghana and Scotland respectively. Fortunately, it’s emerged that the pair will be fit enough to make the squad on Sunday. Whether both start remains to be seen however.

Perez continues to frustrate offensively, but his constant running, ability to defend from the front and fit into Benitez’s tactical plan appears to be the main reason he continues to be selected. Ahead of him will almost certainly be Joselu – a man who was in dire need of a goal last time out and got one – albeit rather fortuitously. It was a huge moment for the hard working Spaniard nonetheless. Hopefully he can take confidence from that and have a bit more of a spring in his step against a decent looking Southampton defence.

The Opposition

 As I alluded to earlier, Southampton have been seriously lacking goals this season. Aside from the three they scored in their 3-2 win at home to an awful West Ham side in August, they haven’t scored a single goal at St Mary’s this season in four other attempts.
With that in mind, it seems star striker Manolo Gabbiadini is struggling to regain the form he showed last season – not that we can afford to give the likes of him or Charlie Austin any extra space in and around the box. Shane Long has tended to start for them this season and could do again on Sunday. He’s not prolific but tends to cause us problems.
Dusan Tadic and Nathan Redmond are two others we’ll have to keep an eye on. The latter often flatters to deceive, but is capable of the odd explosive moment. Tadic has gone a little off the boil in recent season, but remains a clever playmaker on his day.
 
Oriol Romeu and Mario Lemina are believed to have struck up a promising partnership in central midfield from what a few Southampton fans have told me. The former is a real spoiler who likes to break up the play, whilst Lemina, like Merino, appears to have caught the eye since his £18m move from Juventus in the summer.
Defensively they look very strong – on paper at least. For what they’ve lacked in goals over the last 12 months they’ve made up for in clean sheets. Top class centre-back Virgil Van Dijk has returned to the first team recently, however he looks far from settled after failing to secure his dream move to Liverpool over the summer.
Either side of him, Cedric and Bertrand are two very decent full backs, meaning Atsu and Ritchie will have a task on their hands at both ends of the pitch, whilst former NUFC youngster and man mountain Fraser Forster offers a big obstacle to get past in net.
For more on Sunday’s opposition, see this weeks edition of  ‘The Oppostion Opinion’ where we’ve gained the thoughts of Southampton fan Andrew ahead of the game.

Form

Newcastle (9th – 10 points) Last 5 in the league – Won: 3 / Drawn: 1 / Lost: 1

 

Southampton (12th – 8 points) Last 5 in the league /  Won: 1 / Drawn: 1 / Lost: 3

Team News

Christian Atsu and Matt Ritchie were both forced to withdraw from international duty last week, however Benitez has confirmed the pair will be included in the squad.

Once again Paul Dummett and Massaido Haidara are the only absentees through injury.

Jonjo Shelvey fractured his finger in training last week, however the midfielder will be fit enough to face the Saints – as long as he doesn’t take throw ins according to Rafa!

Ironically, NUFC’s summer target Matty Targett appears to be the only absentee for the home side, with Shane Long having recovered from a knock.

 

Predicted Line-ups

Newcastle United XI – (4-2-3-1) – Elliot – Yedlin, Lascelles, Clark, Manquillo – Shelvey, Merino – Ritchie, Perez , Atsu – Joselu

Southampton XI (4-2-3-1) – Forster – Cedric , Yoshida, Van Dijk, Bertrand – Romeu, Lemina – Tadic, Davis, Redmond – Long

 

Head-to-Heads

As you can see, we’ve tended to ship a goal or two against Southampton over the years. Hopefully we don’t see a repeat performance, however I wouldn’t bank on it given our defensive resilience and their offensive limitations so far this season. I can never be too sure mind. This is Newcastle United after all!

Match Prediction

 I’ve got a good feeling about this one IF we can get off to a strong start. Pellegrino is under pressure and I’ve been told by a Southampton season ticket holder that the atmosphere will become toxic if they don’t start well.
On the flip side, some may say they’re due a goal and a good performance, but I believe we could make it a pretty difficult afternoon for them and their under fire manager if we get at them from the off and play with the sort of organisation and desire we showed against Liverpool.
We’ll have to be better going forward than we were at Brighton and Huddersfield if we want to win this, but you’d have to hope we’ll be the more confident of the two sides. For that reason I fancy us to nick it.

Prediction: Southampton 0-1 Newcastle

Howay the lads!

(Fancy writing for us? Send any articles/ideas over to us at NUFCblogsubmissions@gmail.com & we’ll get back to you!)

About Olly Hawkins

Olly has been a Junior Magpie from birth. As a season ticket holder and avid Newcastle United fan - he eats, sleeps and breathes all things NUFC.

87 thoughts on “Southampton vs Newcastle: pre-match thoughts, team news & predicted line-ups

  1. I can’t remember which is which, but one of them has on 2 points and the other on 3 points. So after Palace’s win yesterday we would either be bottom or joint bottom in their little prediction leagues.

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  2. Well I enjoyed watching that to be honest.
    Thought Manquillo had defended the first well initially and he needed Hayden to double up with him, not mark nobody in the box. We aren’t good at defending from those positions IMO.
    The penalty – well that speaks for itself really. Shame coz Lejeune had a decent game in the main – and nearly got the winner with that header.

    I thought our 2 goals were very good. We looked decent going forward today & Joselu & Pérez worked their socks off today. Atsu & Ritchie did well our wide as well I thought.

    Overall, a draw probably a fair result on both teams.

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  3. Sorry, the actual result doesn’t matter, so Palace don’t matter. We are bottom in BOTH Lawro’s and Merse’s prediction leagues. And Liverpool have not lost in 2017 in Lawro’s predeictions.

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  4. Sharpy17:
    Well I enjoyed watching that to be honest.
    Thought Manquillo had defended the first well initially and he needed Hayden to double up with him, not mark nobody in the box.We aren’t good at defending from those positions IMO.
    The penalty – well that speaks for itself really.Shame coz Lejeune had a decent game in the main – and nearly got the winner with that header.

    I thought our 2 goals were very good.We looked decent going forward today & Joselu & Pérez worked their socks off today.Atsu & Ritchie did well our wide as well I thought.

    Overall, a draw probably a fair result on both teams.

    A draw was fair. We had 19 shots with 5 on target. That’s a good showing away from home and certainly not parking the bus.

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  5. Eric Sykes: A draw was fair. We had 19 shots with 5 on target. That’s a good showing away from home and certainly not parking the bus.

    Far from parking the bus mate, and the performance was very good – as I say, I enjoyed the watch. But you and I know, a good performance doesn’t always convert into a good result. Giving a penalty away and getting out of jail with the Yedlin sending off – a draw was fair enough.

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  6. Rafa saying Gayle is injured again. He did seem to be walking funny like – another hamstring?.
    I’m guessing Mitro was left out today coz of his international trip away, but he has to come back in for me – I think Gayle is about done with that no. 9 shirt isn’t he?!.

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  7. I thought there two very poor keepers on show Foster is just to slow to get down to low shots and Elliot should have saved their first goal plus the left back should have closed the striker down he had plenty time to do it,I can now see why Rafa is looking at a new keeper,but I would put Darlo in goal until he does

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  8. Yedlin should have gone. We were very lucky today.
    We need a clinical striker badly. Joselu is a back up player.
    The work ethic of this side is brilliant.
    Shelvey was caught out a few times today in dangerous positions.
    Ritchie is our best player.
    Very happy for Hayden. Commentator said it was fortunate to go in because it was a hit and hope but to me it looked placed with power. Had a bit of bed on it as well.
    Perez was woeful until his goal, gave the ball away often. Great work ethic but overall not productive enough for me at all this season.

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  9. Imagine what Rafa could achieve with a bit of financial backing. At times he has pretty ordinary players playing brilliant one touch football and all look comfortable in possession. We defend well too. But I agree with Sham, we need a better striker.

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