Newcastle United v Southampton – Match Preview
Sunday 24 February 2012 1.30pm
It seems a lot longer than two weeks since our last Premier League match, a narrow defeat at White Hart Lane, and our last home domestic match against Chelsea was three weeks ago.
In between of course we’ve see United come through a tough Europa League tie with FC Metalist and all eyes will be on whether Newcastle can continue that form back in the lower reaches of the Premier League.
Saturday’s results mean that a win over the Saints would see United leapfrog Southampton and the mackems, plus put six points daylight between ourselves and the relegation zone.
You have to go back to the 1996/97 season for Southampton’s last win at St.James’ Park, since then there have been seven wins and one draw in the Premier League, though the last match was back in the 2004/05 season, though Newcastle also beat them the following year on home soil in the FA Cup.
Despite seemingly doing all that was asked of him, Nigel Adkins was sacked despite consecutive promotions and at the time being outside the relegation zone. Southampton have arguably played better football since Mauricio Pochettino took over, though they still remain only three points above the relegation zone – ahead of Newcastle on goal difference.
Adkins was sacked following a win at Villa and excellent 2-2 draw at Chelsea, while since then the Saints have drawn with Everton and Wigan, plus gained a narrow defeat against Manchester United and an excellent 3-1 home win against City in their last match.
No doubt some people will point to a two week gap since their last match as some kind of an advantage but Newcastle’s double header against FC Metalist didn’t have an FA Cup match in between so I don’t think fatigue can be put up as any excuse.
With the new recruits signed in January, Newcastle have the makings of a squad and with Alan Pardew only ruling out Hatem Ben Arfa and Tim Krul of his top players, it means the likes of Debuchy, Steven Taylor, Gouffran, Tiote, Gutierrrez and Santon will all be available to come into the starting eleven that faced FC Metalist in the Ukraine.
Lambert tops their scoring charts with eleven goals in all competitions whilst midfielder/winger Puncheon is next on six, he has been repeatedly linked with Newcastle over the last few days and his contract runs out in the summer so it may be worth keeping an eye on him.
While Saints have shown decent recent form, in Newcastle’s case we have seen a massive shift in quality on the pitch and raised expectations. The fact we can bring back in half our first team who didn’t start in the Ukraine, must give everybody a lift and also the reassurance that we have options to come off the bench as well.
A win for Newcastle and a bit more daylight between us and the relegation zone.
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