The FourFourTwo Preview: Southampton vs Newcastle
Transfer window saints versus sinners.
- West Ham 1-3 So’ton (Prem)
- Millwall 0-2 So’ton (LC)
- So’ton 0-0 WBA (Prem)
- Liverpool 2-1 So’ton (Prem)
- So'ton 0-1 Leverkusen (F)
- Newcastle 3-3 Palace (Prem)
- Gillingham 0-1 Newcastle (LC)
- Villa 0-0 Newcastle (Prem)
- Newcastle 0-2 Man City (Prem)
- Newcastle 1-0 Real Sociedad (F)
Crisis? What crisis? Southampton supporters had good reason to fear the worst earlier in the summer after an upheaval which saw manager Mauricio Pochettino decamp to Tottenham and Messrs Lallana, Lambert, Lovren, Shaw and Chambers depart for, arguably, bigger and better things. But at the same time it could be debated that the south coast club’s squad is in a better state now than it was in May.
Although a loan move for Inter Milan’s Saphir Taider didn’t work out, incoming coach Ronald Koeman appears to have recruited tidily in Fraser Forster, Dusan Tadic and Toby Alderweireld.
Keeping key cog Morgan Schneiderlin is probably by far the best piece of business, as witnessed in the emphatic 3-1 win at West Ham last time out as the Frenchman bagged a brace.
After an encouraging, if fruitless, opening-day display at Liverpool was followed by a stalemate with West Brom, Koeman will hope his men are now beginning to click into gear after successive away wins against Millwall and the Hammers – both of which saw another new addition, Graziano Pelle, find the net.
And then there’s Newcastle. Their own summer recruitment drive had initially looked to be going satisfactorily; bringing in Remy Cabella to replace the craft of Yohan Cabaye, with Siem de Jong and Emmanuel Riviere adding the finishing touches.
But as deadline day neared the deals dried up, incoming ones at least, and a transfer window that at one stage had promised much ended in dismay with the last-minute removals of defender Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa to Roma and fans’ favourite Hatem Ben Arfa to Hull. With De Jong crocked for several months and Riviere yet to hit his straps, the Toon look lightweight up top and threadbare in the centre of defence.
Alan Pardew had long been feeling the wrath of a tired and frustrated fanbase before shipping out the one player in Ben Arfa that they craved seeing flashes of French brilliance from, so a win at the Londoner’s former stomping ground would offer a welcome, albeit very brief, respite.
The trouble is, United have lost 15 of their last 23 Premier League games, won none of their previous six away trips and don’t really do clean sheets against the Saints. The Magpies have managed just one in the last 14 top-flight meetings and last stopped Southampton scoring on the south coast back in 1969, 25 games ago.
Happy thoughts, Alan…
De Jong (thigh) joins knee-knacked trio Ryan Taylor, Papiss Cisse and Davide Santon on the treatment table, while Rolando Aarons has a hamstring injury. Jack Colback is said to have recovered from the calf problem that prevented him featuring for England and Cheick Tiote is set to return to the squad.
Southampton can boast their own batch of knee sufferers in Jay Rodriguez, Sam Gallagher and Lloyd Isgrove with only the latter in line to recover in time to take on the Magpies. Sadio Mane may not be ready for his debut having jetted off for Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers straight after signing.
Player to watch: Toby Alderweireld (Saints)
The 25-year-old Belgium international, in on a season-long loan from La Liga champions Atletico Madrid, has a point to prove having struggled to cement a first-team place at the Vicente Calderon in 2013/14.
Alderweireld, who can operate in the centre of defence or at full-back, made just 18 starts in all competitions last term but stood out in the home victory over Espanyol, completing 9 clearances on top of 4 successful tackles on the right flank. And his eagerness to get forward was on display during the World Cup.
In Belgium’s last 16 success against the United States, Alderweireld set up 4 chances for team-mates and attempted 6 crosses, while in the quarter-final defeat to Argentina, the former Ajax man topped the chart for attacking third passes (13/19) ahead of Lionel Messi.
“I have four years in a row in the Champions League and have played in the World Cup - I know what excellence means,” he said confidently. “I hope to accrue games weekly in a top competition like the Premier League. Not that I have bad memories of Atletico, I became more mature and could play in the Champions League, but in the centre of defence the team was already there from the year before, so it was difficult.”
LAST FIVE MEETINGS
- Saints 4-0 N'castle (PL, Mar 12)
- N'castle 1-1 Saints (PL, Dec 13)
- N'castle 4-2 Saints (PL, Feb 13)
- Saints 2-0 N'castle (PL, Nov 12)
- N'castle 1-0 Saints (FAC, Feb 06)
Pardew spent just over a year in charge at St Mary’s, winning 34 of his 64 games and lifting the Football League Trophy in 2010 before being sacked just five matches into the new League One campaign.
His two visits to the south coast since have resulted in defeats without managing a single goal, suffering a chastening four-goal gubbing in March after a 2-0 reversal back in November 2012.
Pardew’s one and only success as a visiting manager at St Mary’s came courtesy of an injury-time Chris Iwelumo goal for 10-man Charlton in November 2007.
“Of all the matches in my managerial career this win has got to be in my top five,” he jubilated at the time.
Unlike Pardew, Koeman has no previous experience managing the opposition, but he will be reunited with one of his Feyenoord charges from last season in Daryl Janmaat.
“It’s nice for me to come up against him,” said Janmaat. “He’s a good trainer. It’ll be nice to see him in the Premier League and I’m looking forward to playing against him. He's going to do well at Southampton.”
Facts and figures
- Saints have won 10 and lost just 1 of 14 previous Premier League home games against Newcastle (D3).
- Sadio Mane scored 2 and assisted 4 in just 4 Austrian Bundesliga appearances this season. Last term, he scored 13 and assisted 12 in 33 games.
- 2 of Newcastle's goals in their last Premier League match were scored by Englishmen (Aarons and Williamson), more than in the whole of 2013/14 (1).
More FFT Stats Zone facts
Another sorry return south for Pards. 2-0 Saints.