Sunday 25 November 2012 3pm
Alan Pardew will be looking for an upturn in fortunes on this return to one of his former clubs.
A few things surprised me when I looked into our modern history when visiting The Dell/St.Mary’s.
After a dismal record throughout pretty much all of my match going days, I was amazed to find that Newcastle are unbeaten on the last four visits.
For anybody who endured Le Tissier and all the rest throughout the 70s (only win in those decades was 1971/72 season), 80s and 90s it was a deserved reward when the tide belatedly turned.
Bellamy earned us a point in the 2002/03 season and then it was a win and draw, with the final part of the sequence another win on our last visit.
That visit was fully eight years ago, which again surprised me, with an own goal and a scorcher from Stephen Carr winning the points!
How Alan Pardew and his team could use a similar scenario this time, a scruffy goal and a goal from an unexpected place, we can’t only rely on Demba to keep scoring and/or Papiss Cisse to start again.
After a poor opening defeat to Wigan at St.Mary’s, Southampton have played pretty well without possibly getting the points they deserved.
The sole home win was a 4-1 thrashing of Villa while they have had creditable draws against Swansea and Fulham. Despite leading twice against Manchester United they eventually went down 3-2, while Spurs also triumphed 2-1.
Having scored ten goals and conceded eleven on home soil, it is obvious why they haven’t picked up more points. Rickie Lambert is top scorer with five goals but clearly there are goals to be had if Newcastle can find a bit of creativity from somewhere.
With Coloccini suspended and any numbers of injuries, Alan Pardew is understandably keeping his cards close to his chest with regard to whether the likes of Cisse and Gutierrez will make it, Obertan is another who is given a chance of playing. Those who seem certain to miss out are Cabaye, Shola, Ben Arfa, as well as longer term injured Perch, Gosling, Vuckic and Ryan Taylor.
While the back five would appear to pick itself with Williamson coming in for the suspended Coloccini, apart from Tiote and Ba it would appear to be anybody’s guess as to who will make up the front six.
If they are fit then Jonas and Cisse must be definites but then you are left to pick from the likes of Anita, Bigirimana, Ferguson, Marveaux, Sammy Ameobi and possibly Obertan.
The fringe/younger players really have to start stepping up because in terms of personal opportunity, the likes of Marveaux, Sammy Ameobi and others have been gifted a great chance thanks to injuries and a short-sighted player trading strategy in the summer.
This starts a three match sequence against three teams (Stoke away then WIgan home) we’d expect to be ahead of at the end of the season but a defeat on the south coast would leave the current second bottom team within striking distance of ourselves.
If Newcastle can keep it tight then we have every chance and we really need both Ba AND Cisse (if available – fingers crossed) on top of their game.