Southampton (A): Pre-match thoughts, team news & predicted line ups

Going into last weekend’s game with Burnley, things weren’t looking good at all for Newcastle United and Steve Bruce.

We collapsed at Arsenal and went down without a fight vs Palace – a game where we failed to threaten once against an out of sorts side, never mind score – meaning a change of approach was absolutely essential as the pressure on Bruce mounted.

Burnley then arrived at St James’ Park. A 0-0 draw and our 4th straight blank of the season left us leaving the stadium flat to say the least, but the 4-2-3-1 system used did show signs of promise, with us creating more chances and looking *slightly* more likely in the final third.

Tuesday’s FA Cup clash with West Brom then came along and we were MUCH better, with Joelinton thriving alongside three attacking midfielders and us playing some far more fluid and exciting attacking football as a result.

We made hard work of it in the end in true Newcastle United fashion, but 2-3 flattered West Brom in a game we fully deserved to win.

Bruce has vowed to stick with the same system at Southampton this weekend in a game we’re all desperate to win – knowing 3 points could all but end our relegation fears and end our barren run of 1 league win in 10.

It will be a test of our ability to get the balance right at both ends when using this 4-2-3-1 formation against a capable attacking side, but with our best attackers now fit, more confident and linking up well on Tuesday, this is our chance to pull clear at the bottom with a big win.

With our fixtures set to get tough after upcoming games against Southampton, Sheffield Utd, Bournemouth and West Ham, this is the time to make one big push towards securing Premier League safety.

Predicted XI

(4-2-3-1): Dubravka – Yedlin, Lascelles, Fernandez, Rose – Hayden, Shelvey – Lazaro, Almiron, Saint-Maximin – Joelinton.

For the first time in a while, Steve Bruce is facing a positive selection dilemma, with several fit again and a few returning players putting in superb displays in midweek.

In goal, Dubravka will return after sitting it out at the Hawthorns, while Fernandez also seems likely to come back in following a well deserved rest in midweek.

With that in mind, he and Lascelles look set to continue at centre-back after their clean sheet vs Burnley.

Manquillo – who continues to do a very solid job whenever he plays – could continue at right-back if passed fit, but the fact he was ‘sore’ after starting twice in 4 days at West Brom makes me wonder if he’ll be protected here, meaning Yedlin could come in.

At left-back, Rose hasn’t looked like a player fit enough to play 3 games in 7 games, but Bruce seems unlikely to play Ritchie at left-back in a four-man defence?

In midfield, Sean Longstaff and Nabil Bentaleb didn’t do enough for me on Tuesday night to suggest they should be starting above Shelvey and Hayden. The latter was poor against Burnley, but his combative style is perhaps what we need alongside Shelvey – especially in a more attack-minded Newcastle side that needs a player to protect a back four that could be more exposed.

In attack, it’s anyone’s guess who Bruce goes with. If fit, it’s fair to say Almiron and Saint-Maximin are nailed on, but who starts up top and who plays wide right?

On the right-hand side Bruce must pick between Lazaro – who was superb in midweek – and Ritchie. I’d like to see Lazaro play again, believing his pace, movement and quick-thinking played a key role in us looking more fluid on at West Brom, but Ritchie is fresh after being rested.

Then it’s Joelinton or Gayle up top. The Brazilian was unselfish on Tuesday and brought the best out of his fellow attackers at the Hawthorns as a result, but Gayle looks more likely to score and arguably deserves another chance in the side after looking lively vs Burnley?

The Opposition

Here’s ‘ones to watch’ in Ralph Hasenhuttl’s Saints side:

Danny Ings – The former Liverpool striker has 15 league goals this season, having been in stunning form in front of goal for the Saints. A ruthless finisher who’ll be hungry to add to his tally here after scoring just once in his last 7. Shane Long is a nuisance and a player we often struggle to deal with, but stop Ings and we could stop Southampton in this one.

James Ward-Prowse – One of the best crossers of the ball in the league, with his delivery from set pieces and open play up there with De Bruyne and Alexander-Arnold on his day. More reason not to give away cheap free kicks or needless corners!

Moussa Djenepo – With star winger Nathan Redmond ruled out, either he or Sofiane Boufal could start to give the Saints some added flare in attack. Both are good dribblers, unpredictable and capable of the spectacular.

Team news

Saint-Maximin is ‘OK’ after starting at West Brom in midweek, while Manquillo is expected to be fit despite being ‘sore’ after Tuesday’s game.

Carroll looks set to miss out once again, with no return date set, along with Clark, Dummett and Willems – who are all out for the remainder of the season.

Atsu and Krafth are back in training so could return to the squad if Bruce selects them.

For the hosts, Danny Ings has been passed fit after failing to start their defeat at West Ham last weekend, but Nathan Redmond, Stuart Armstrong and Will Smallbone will all miss out.

Moussa Djenepo is available again and could start.


I think we’ll finally end our unwanted streak of 4 league games without a goal, but feel we could see the opposition get a bit more joy at the other end, with our new formation seeing us not only push up, but swap one centre-back out of the side in favour of an extra attacking midfielder.

I see no reason why we can’t outscore Southampton IF we play with the right intensity all over the pitch and go at them from the off, but have a feeling this one will be a score draw.

Prediction: Southampton 2-2 Newcastle


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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.

76 thoughts on “Southampton (A): Pre-match thoughts, team news & predicted line ups

  1. It is hard to make sense of what Bruce is saying apart from the fact that he has now dumped Rafa’s 5 at the back because he realizes that there is no outlet. But with a 4-2-3-1 you have to decide who the 1 will be. Where does that leave Joelinton as it appears Bruce has accepted he is not a number 9? He has also said that Miggy is a number 10 now. It points to Gayle but will be drop Joe and then where does that leave St Max?


  2. And if you abandon the wing back system then you should be playing your best defensive full backs which are probably Rose and Manquillo.


  3. Still not sold on Rose but whenever I watched him for Spurs he was OK, but never England quality. He’s an OK defender though so we have to play him in a 4 at the back. I can see Ritchie being p!ssed off. So, my best guess for the lineup is:


    Manquillo Fernandez Lachelles Rose

    Hayden Shelvey

    Lazaro Almiron St Max



  4. It is also funny Bruce commenting on being called a potato and fat head by OTHER teams’ fans. From what I have seen on some social media sites (The Mag in particular) it is the NUFC fans who are calling him names like CORBRIDGE CABBAGE.


  5. Was stuck on last thread.

    With a weakened saints ( no Redmond, Smallbone or Armstrong ) and only Ings as main threat i would like to think we could get a point at least today, but this is Newcastle so never assume anything that comes anywhere near logical .


  6. We will see if Bruce talking up his changes actually means anything. Hard to judge against an intentionally weakened West Brom. I give him some credit for doing it because we have been terrible recently and have hardly looked like scoring in any PL games all of this calendar year and probably all season. Something had to be done and this Saints team are not that good


  7. Craig Hope has been one of the few to question NUFC standard of play. Bruce has been given almost a free ride until the last couple of PL games. Nobody really asked about the quality of football and our incredible luck. The only place I really saw the stats until recently was on Football365 which I don’t think has a very high profile.

    It seems that the vast majority of press and pundits are very quick to praise Bruce and very slow to say anything negative. I don’t know why.

    They have pretty much stopped showing our games on US TV unless it is one that is moved by Sky when we play a big team. I don’t blame them either as most of our games must be hell for the neutral with the 0-9-1 formation. Why would they want to show anti-football but there seemed a media conspiracy never to mention it.


  8. team

    Lee Ryder
    Dubravka, Rose, Lascelles, Fernandez, Manquillo, Ritchie, Shelvey, Hayden, Saint-Maximin, Gayle, Almiron

    Subs: Darlow, Schar, Joelinton, Yedlin, Lazaro, S Longstaff, Bentaleb


  9. They seem to have realized that leaving a speedy player in the centre circle for corners keeps the opposition honest.


  10. OMG, Gayle… 😖😖😖🤮🤮🤮 and our first Pen this season and Ritchie fails to score… can we bring some under 23s in please to score some goals.. if we cannot win this one, we deserve to go down


  11. KIMTOON: Sykes
    March 7, 2020 at 15:11
    They seem to have realized that leaving a speedy player in the centre circle for corners keeps the opposition honest.


    Thanks Kim


  12. Groucho: the other commentator also calls Ando a Toon Legend. On what planet is he a legend? I think it cheapens the use of the term for real legends like Keegan, Milburn and Shearer.


  13. Ritchie off Joelinton on goes left and St goes to right

    Dubs looks to of hurt his knee quite badly after getting clattered by Ings


  14. Longstaff for Hayden, presume Dubs is ok

    St maxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxget in lad


  15. I don’t think it will take 40 points to stay up. The teams below us are finding ways to lose.


  16. Well that was a bit hairy… Like Kim, I just had that feeling that Saints would score… we are so .. 1-0 again, but another 3 points so I’ll take that


  17. Moyes has been unlucky again like at Liverpool. They look like they have the quality but are not getting the luck.


  18. Well Gayle missed some chances today but at least he gets into the right place. A goal would do him the world of good and us


  19. KIMTOON:
    So Dubs left ground on crutches then 🙁

    That’s not good, but maybe precautionary. I think Darlow did ok in FA cup games and can do a job if needed. I think one more win will be enough for us … 🤞


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