Coming off the back of a 0-0 draw away to Bournemouth, many Southampton fans and players deemed it a decent result and a solid foundation to build upon. A strong defensive showing which Mark Hughes has been drilling into them in recent weeks highlights a possible improvement to a normally leaky defence. However, with no goals scored in Southampton’s last four Premier League matches and only six league goals scored all season, the other end of the pitch is an issue.

It is not unfair to suggest Newcastle United are being plunged into crisis at the moment. With support for the chairman, Mike Ashley, virtually gone and steady regression being shown at St James Park over the last couple of seasons, there is certainly a sceptical mood surrounding the club. Some could some argue Southampton fans know this feeling too well! A 1-0 defeat at home to Brighton last week meant that Newcastle slipped to the foot of the table, ensuring the Magpies remain winless in all competitions this season.

TEAM NEWS:

For the Saints, Mario Lemina is likely to be available having overcome a minor issue with his left knee, after picking it up at the Vitality Stadium last weekend. Aside from Lemina, Hughes has got a full strength squad at his disposal.

The Toon have been handed a boost with on-loan forward, Solomon Rondon, returning to full training this week and is expected to make the long trip down to the South Coast. Having sustained a thigh injury whilst on International Duty a fortnight ago, defender Ciaran Clark should return to the fold this Saturday.
Benitez, Hughes, Newcastle, Southampton, Premier League, Lemina

Three Threats:

Jonjo Shelvey: At the heart of Newcastle’s Engine room, Shelvey can play a vital part in helping Newcastle pick up their first three points of the season. With the ability to dictate the tempo and a great range of passing, Southampton need to ensure he does not have the time to pick out hurtful passes. Having been the match winner for Swansea a couple of years ago, Shelvey has fond memories playing at St Mary’s.
Matt Ritchie: Being one of Rafa Benitez’s trusted men for the last three seasons, Ritchie will be looking to make an impact on the game. Possessing a great delivery with either foot, Ritchie’s crosses will be a danger from open play as well as any set pieces Newcastle get.
Ayoze Perez: Perhaps not making any meaningful contributions this season so far, Perez should still be viewed as a massive threat by the Saints. Finding space in tight areas in-between the the defence and the midfield, Perez cannot be afforded the time and space to be the link player in the Newcastle Attack.
Benitez, Hughes, Newcastle, Southampton, Premier League, Shelvey

Last 5 Results (All Competitions):

Southampton:
AFC Bournemouth 0 – 0 Saints
Saints 0 – 3 ChelseaEverton 1 – 1 Saints – 3-4 on Penalties (League Cup)
Wolves 2 – 0 Saints
Liverpool 3 – 0 Saints
Newcastle:
Newcastle 0 – 1 Brighton
Man United 3 – 2 Newcastle
Newcastle 0 – 2 Leicester
Crystal Palace 0 – 0 Newcastle
Newcastle  1 – 2 Arsenal

Without doubt, the result of this fixture will have a massive impact on the feeling neighbouring both clubs. For Mark Hughes, nothing less than the three points will lift the scrutiny off the Welshman. Being unable to win key games within a season has haunted Saints for a couple of years now and with Newcastle even more fragile than the hosts, they have the perfect opportunity to win on  home turf. The win would put to a halt a dire record at St Mary’s in 2018, having only won once in that time.

Benitez, Hughes, Newcastle, Southampton, Premier League, Lemina

Prediction:

I see this as a scruffy, tense game, where Southampton need to break the visitors down and stay mentally and physically strong for 90 minutes in order to come away with the three points. Sadly, In a tense affair, my best bet is a draw.
Southampton 1 – 1 Newcastle

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