Saturday’s win over Brighton was our third victory on the spin at St James’ Park, however we now facing a run of away games, with trips to Southampton, Chelsea and Everton come over the next eight days.
First up, we face a Saints side who come into this one off the back of a 4-0 hammering at Aston Villa – but don’t let that result fool you.
Until that heavy defeat last weekend, Southampton had only lost one Premier League match since December 11th (2021), with only Liverpool losing less home games than Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side.
So, it’ll be a tough test, yet one we are more than capable of overcoming based on our incredible rise to form.
Not only are we eight games unbeaten – winning FIVE of our last six – our last three away games have featured wins to nil at Leeds and Brentford, along with a convincing 1-1 draw at top four contenders, West Ham.
Momentum is on our side and this one presents yet another opportunity to all but secure our Premier League status – something we must not take for granted now we’ve managed to pull seven points clear.
Allan Saint-Maximin is still “not 100% fit” according to Howe, so it seems likely he starts this one on the bench – not in Eddies’ XI.
With our busy schedule in mind, it’ll be interesting to see if the likes of Bruno Guimaraes and Javier Manquillo benefit from possible rotation.
Elsewhere, Matt Ritchie is back in training, while a side strain to Federico Fernandez means he’ll be sidelined along with Kieran Trippier (foot) and Callum Wilson (calf).
As for Southampton, it looks like Kyle Walker-Peters and Mohamed Salisu could return after hamstring issues kept them out of Saturday’s 4-0 defeat at Villa.
Predicted line ups
(4-3-2-1): Dubravka – Krafth, Schar, Burn, Targett – Guimaraes, Shelvey, Joelinton – Murphy, Fraser – Wood.
Martin Dubravka – Been rock solid in recent weeks, racking up his third clean sheet in our last five games last weekend.
Emil Krafth – The Swede put in a solid shift on Saturday, so I think Howe will stick with what’s been a settled defence and rotate a little more on Sunday instead (meaning Manquillo could start at Chelsea).
Fabian Schar – Was brilliant yet again over the weekend and will need to be at his best again here. Struggled badly in this fixture last season.
Dan Burn – Another monstrous display last time out. Lascelles is fit again, but I can’t see Howe messing with a CB pairing that’s working so well.
Matt Targett – The Aston Villa loanee looks set to start against his boyhood club. Keep playing as he has been and a permanent move this summer will be a no-brainer!
Joelinton – No Premier League player has made more tackles since he dropped back into midfield. Hopefully he can unsettle the influential James Ward-Prowse here.
Jonjo Shelvey – Seems to be one of the first names on the teamsheet under Howe and is backing that up with some disciplined displays. Was quiet on Saturday, but is not longer the liability he once was.
Bruno Guimaraes – The Saints will probably have a lot of possession here, so it’s vital we look after the ball well when we get it. Because of this – and the fact Willock looked shattered on Saturday – I can see him getting his first EPL start here.
Jacob Murphy – With ASM still “not 100% fit”, he seems likely to be handed another start here. Will need to work hard against Southampton’s marauding full-backs and be a little more clinical at the other end.
Ryan Fraser – Back to his best and becoming one of our most creative players. Caused havoc in our last away game and is a player full of confidence.
Chris Wood – Needs a goal, yet proved his worth once again last weekend through hard work, unselfish running and a brilliant through ball for our opener. After struggling in the air against Dunk and Duffy vs Brighton, I back him to get some joy here!
Predicted Southampton XI (4-2-2-2): Foster – Livramento, Bednarek, Salisu, Walker-Peters – Romeu, Ward-Prowse – Armstrong, Elyounoussi – Adams, Broja.
If Saints duo Salisu and Walker-Peters miss out again, I can see us causing problems and coming away with at least a point.
However, there’s a reason they’ve only lost one game at home all season and I fear our unbeaten run might just come to an end here if they are back to full strength.
Hopefully I’m proven wrong and we leave our first of three away games with another good result!
Prediction: Southampton 2-1 Newcastle
HOWAY THE LADS!