Mark Hughes admits why Newcastle should fancy their chances of beating Southampton
Mark Hughes almost pulled off a remarkable double last season.
He ensured Stoke would be relegated despite significant spending on the squad under Hughes, then after being sacked, he then went to Southampton and almost took them down as well.
They survived in the end by only three points, a record of four defeats, two draws and two wins after Mark Hughes took over, just enough to keep them up.
Southampton have only won four of their last 34 Premier League matches, three of the final 25 last season and one from nine this time.
Mark Hughes admits that Newcastle should be fancying their chances of a win.
The record of the Saints overall is bad enough but at home it is especially shocking.
In their last game, Newcastle lost to a very poor Brighton team who hadn’t won a PL game away from home for 11 months.
Now Rafa’s players face an equally poor, or even worse, Southampton side who have only won one PL home match in these past 11 months.
That was the second last home match of last season, a 2-1 win over Bournemouth which arguably kept them in the top tier. Before that, the last home victory was 26 November 2017 when they hammered Everton 4-1.
These kind of crunch matches against other poor teams are what kept Newcastle up last season, including two victories over Stoke when Mark Hughes was still manager.
The margins have looked small in the Cardiff, Palace and Brighton matches so far and in truth, Newcastle could have had anything from zero to nine points from that trio of matches.
However, at some point you have to accept that it isn’t just small margins and bad luck if results don’t improve.
A win over Southampton would tick a lot of boxes, including giving Newcastle fans hope that there are indeed three teams that will prove weaker than NUFC this season, with Southampton potentially added to Cardiff and Huddersfield, in my opinion.
“It’s an important game as it’s the next one and it’s one we want to get maximum points from.
“I think there is a danger that people underestimate Newcastle at this moment in time.
“I think the fixture computer hasn’t been very kind to them, if you look at the games they have faced – Manchester United, Manchester City, Tottenham, Arsenal and Chelsea as well.
“Not one of those clubs have beaten them by more than one clear goal and that suggests Newcastle are an accomplished side.
“I think they probably would have looked at the fixtures they have ahead of them, clearly they’ve had a period where they’ve gone up against tough opponents.
“Withstanding the Brighton game, because they probably would have targeted that game as well, but coming to ourselves they would have seen our home form and I imagine thought ‘well that’s an opportunity to get points on the board.’
“I looked at their fixtures ahead of them and this period is a little bit easier for them, in terms of what they feel the opposition is in what they’re going to face.
“We have got to make sure that out of all the fixtures they’re going to face, Southampton was a bit beyond them.
“We’re okay (with injuries), Mario Lemina came off against Bournemouth and was sore early in the week.
“But we’re pleased as it doesn’t look like he’s sustained any significant damage. It was jarring of the knee and a bit of hyper-extension.
“But it looks like he’ll be fit as long as he doesn’t have any reaction to the work we’ve done today. Other than him, we have nobody unavailable.”
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