Southampton (H) Pre-match thoughts, team news, possible line-ups & score prediction

After back to back league defeats and an early exit from the Carabao Cup in midweek, this really is a huge game for Steve Bruce.

Lose and we’ll be heading into the international break both winless and in the bottom three, but win and it’ll give us a much needed boost – getting that early season monkey off our backs in front of our home crowd.

Bruce told the press on Friday morning that he’s been encouraged by our performances in the main, feeling we were unlucky against West Ham and Villa and deserved to beat Burnley on Wednesday, yet the reality is we are yet to win any of those three games.

We started well in our two league games, but bad defending and us running out of gas – or ideas – as both games went on was a worrying theme.

Not only that, there was a point in Wednesday’s match where I worked out we’d had just FIVE shots on target in 250 minutes of football. We didn’t have one after the break against West Ham, managed our only effort on goal in the 96th minute at Villa and didn’t test Burnley’s goalkeeper until the second half in midweek.

Some of our states regarding expected goals have actually improved on last season based on the early season stats, however we need to pose much more of a consistent threat in the attacking, strike a much better balance in midfield and switch on defensively after avoidable lapses in both of our EPL defeats so far.

As for Southampton, they come into this game winless in the league but on a mini-high, having followed up a 1-1 draw at home to Man Utd with an emphatic 8-0 win at Newport the night we went out to Burnley.

James Ward Prowse is their star man – his ability from set pieces is up there with the best in the division – and exciting new right-back Valentino Livramento is another one to watch, however all eyes will be on ex-Mag Adam Armstrong.

The Geordie striker – sold by Rafa Benitez just three years ago – is Southampton’s Danny Ings replacement and could prove to be a snip at £15m, possessing the sort of pace, pressing and shoot-on-sight ability that will cause our ageing backline nightmares if we’re not careful.

Team news

  • Isaac Hayden – ‘Touch and go’ after being forced off at Villa and missing out vs Burnley. Trained on Thursday.
  • Jonjo Shelvey – Remains out with a calf injury. The last update from Bruce suggested he’ll be out for ‘3-4 weeks.’
  • Paul Dummett – Back in training and available for selection. Unlikely to start, but could make Bruce’s bench.
  • Martin Dubravka – Remains out, with his foot becoming infected following surgery this summer.
  • Karl Darlow – Isn’t being rushed back after suffering badly with Covid last month.

For the visitors, midfielder Stuart Armstrong is out with a calf problem while long-term absentee Will Smallbone (knee) also remains absent.

It remains to be seen if Brazilian centre-back Lyanco – Jannik Vestergaard’s replacement – will be fit enough to start following his £7.5m move from Torino.

Predicted lineup

(5-3-2): Woodman – Murphy, Schar, Lascelles, Fernandez, Ritchie – S Longstaff, Willock, Almiron – Saint-Maximin, Wilson.

I can’t see us making many changes here, with most of our ‘starting 11’ given a good rest in midweek.

One change could be enforced, however, with Isaac Hayden limping off last weekend and failing to feature against Burnley.

Bruce has confirmed he trained on Thursday and is ‘tough and go’ for this one, so it wouldn’t surprise me if he plays it sage and hands a start to Sean Longstaff.

He was tidy in the second half at Villa and put in a solid display in the ‘Shelvey role’ on Wednesday, meaning he could be the most likely option just behind Willock and Almiron.

In defence, Krafth and Clark did themselves no harm with solid display in the cup, however Schar is the ball-playing defender we lack and Fernandez is likely to return after a rest.

Manquillo was impressive against Burnley down the right, but Murphy has made the position his own over the past year – although needs to improve defensively if he’s to hold onto that RWB slot.

Match prediction

I can see there being a few goals in this one, and think the key will be our ability to break their press.

Armstrong and Adams were absolute pests in their 1-1 draw against Man Utd and also forced Everton’s Michael Keane into a bad mistake for their goal at Goodison on the opening weekend, so it’s vital we don’t get caught out at the back here.

If we manage to bypass that press, I fancy the likes of Willock, ASM and Almiron to get plenty of joy, with the latter enjoying his best game in a black and white shirt in this fixture last season.

I’d back us to score a couple – the Saints often give you chances – yet fear our one-paced backline lacking in ball playing defenders could struggle to handle their high press and pace in attack.

Prediction: Newcastle 2-2 Southampton

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.

50 thoughts on “Southampton (H) Pre-match thoughts, team news, possible line-ups & score prediction

  1. I will try not to be too critical.

    I agree with Olly that lack of pace in central defense is a problem. They are not bad individually, but the whole is less than the sum of the parts. They are all so slow. We need Dummett back.

    And Fernandez always takes the easy option and hits the ball out for a throw or corner. We are vulnerable to the high press because of lack of pace and maybe even more because they dont seem comfortable on the ball. Again, mostly taking the easy option of a backpass to the goalie to hoof it.

    I am still not entirely sure about playing wingers as wingbacks, but that is what we have.

    I reckon the midfield and attack are quite good (after signing Willock) and better than most apart from the top 8 or so. Maybe better than Leeds and Villa but we dont really seem to be able to link up. That’s probably a function of the slow centre backs.

    I think Olly has it right on his team prediction. Let’s see if Brucie/Jonesy can get them working together. We do have to fix this lack of pace in defense though. That’s one thing FatBoy Fat has got right when he talks about transfers.

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  2. A prediction? I have no idea.

    Going into the break on zero points will not be fun, so please can we avoid that?

    Who sets up this shedule anyway. Why are we having a break after only 3 games?

    I suppose it will help with Dubs and Darlow.

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  3. Saints always feel like a bogey team to me, not helped by Pardews remarks that they had better players because they’re well educated and smart; thereby indicating that our youth to first team set up are a bunch of thicko’s . 🙄
    Really need something today as it’s Manure and Ronaldo followed by Leeds, deep joy.

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  4. I think Arma will come back to haunt us. 2-0 to Saints and another VAR controversy against us.

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  5. Every picture tells a story – have you all seen the shot of the players in a circle, Jones in the middle talking and Bruce stood yards away just watching. Our manager!

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  6. Watching BT Sport and the build up to City v Arsenal & they have Rio Ferdinand talking from afar. He’s genuinely talking like he was a key figure to bring CR7 back to Man Utd – and the rest of them are entertaining his claim. It blows my mind just how far up his own ar$e that clown is!!.

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  7. I am awake way too early (5.30am) so I can watch Man City/Arsenal. Some good football on today apart from our match 🙂 Need something to cheer me up because the rest of it over here in the US is all bad news. This hurricane about to hit New Orleans will be a nightmare. Up to 140 MPH winds.

    I was in New Orleans a month ago and they had a storm. Nothing like this one, but the water was still ankle deep, and the rain was coming sideways – broke my umbrella. That would have been early for a hurricane but I still think I should have had an evacuation plan.

    You lot in the UK will see this because it happens to be the 16th anniversary of hurriccane Katrina and it will be bad.

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  8. Sadly I only see defeat for us today.

    I understand what Olly is saying about the lack of pace at CB – I think that matters more if you only play 2 – but with 3 it’s not as big a problem, or shouldn’t be if they are drilled as a unit and know what their roll is.

    For me the problem is that midfield. Longstaff is nowhere near good enough, and Almiron isn’t physically strong enough to compete in midfield.

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  9. If we can get our forwards confident I think we can win today. We have the skill in the forward line if they can finish, and play the final ball – I am looking at you Miggy!!! But, what do I know, I thought we would beat West Ham.

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  10. KIMTOON:
    https://www.rt.com/sport/533129-arsenal-take-over-qatar-kroenke/

    Be watching this with interest

    Kim – I don’t think the PL have handled our takeover well at all – but equally I don’t think the buying party are totally without blame either mind.

    I don’t think they provided all of the information the PL need – if they had then there would be no hold up. It feels a lot like the Saudis have said – we’ll buy it & spend some money, you don’t need to ask any questions.

    What also annoys me is, take the Saudis out the consortium and it’s a big pot of money – but those left in it could still afford to buy us & develop the club – not at the speed of a City or Chelsea, but maybe of a Leicester or Villa. Why don’t they push on and introduce the Saudis at a later date???

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  11. I can see Arteta getting fired tomorrow. 3-0 down and down to 10 men. This could be embarrassing for them! 😂😂. Oh dear.

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  12. I went to put a bet on that Arteta would be first manager sacked – then I realised Watford were back in the league – but if Arteta is still there after the international break I would be amazed.

    Loads of Arsenal fans saying Conte is without a club – go get him … they wish. Sack Arteta and the best they can hope for is an Eddie Howe I reckon – I honestly think that’s how far they’ve fallen.

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  13. Steve Bruce is such a great manager. I’m sure Arsenal will poach him soon! They deserve him. 😂😂😂😂

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  14. As much as I’m no real fan of his, Arsenal desperately need Rafa.

    They are so easy to play against they need to go back to their George Graham days of 1-0 to the Arsenal.

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  15. Sharpy17:
    As much as I’m no real fan of his, Arsenal desperately need Rafa.

    They are so easy to play against they need to go back to their George Graham days of 1-0 to the Arsenal.

    They will still beat us though mate, you can be sure of that.

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  16. Sharpy re the Saudi bid, you may well be right but the sticking point with PL was that they wanted to know it wasn’t going to be a state owned club. So as I said i will follow the potential Arsenal take over by the Qatari Royal Family/state with interest. Perhaps they can show the Saudi’s how you get around that question ? 😉

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  17. Lads or Merse on Soccer saturday reckons there will be hell on if we fail to beat saints today and that Steve will need a thick skin. Nope, it’ll be a bit of booing and that’ll be it, our fans have been beaten into a state of apathy over the last 14 or so years or so. We know nowt will change as long as jabba owns us so what’s the point of protest.

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  18. Fans are booing like mad – it was only a matter of time. Bruce is doing NOTHING to change the flow of this game!!.

    You watch City, Lpool or Chelsea and more often than not they are winning games – but Pep, Klopp & Tuchel are all stood barking instructions from the sidelines. Bruce is busy wondering what takeaway to have tonight.

    Sad thing is he won’t do the right thing and walk & he won’t get sacked until we are on the verge of relegation.

    If this was boxing the ref would stop it!!.

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  19. If Saints still had Ings I think we’d have been going in 2 or 3 nil down there. Saints ripped us to shreds in that first half and only missed some clinical finishing to really punish us.

    2 and a half games in and I’ve given up already. The players aren’t good enough, but are better than this. This will be the case until Ashley makes the change – but he’s too busy fanning his son in law and feeding him peeled grapes.

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  20. Djenepo goes off before he gets another card, been consistently diving all game that yellow long overdue.

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  21. Fuc.king sick of VAR. always against us now. Maxi should’ve had a pen earlier , as much a pen as West Ham’s pen… so pissed off … that’s three pens against us in three games now. 🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬

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  22. Media complaining that fans are calling for Bruce to be sacked after only 25 mins. Actually it’s 2 seasons and 25 mins. It’s turgid and has always been turgid. The problem is that nobody better than Bruce will get or take the job.

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