Why Remy Cabella could be key to disrupting free-flowing Saints
After a turbulent and inconsistent beginning to his Newcastle career, summer signing Remy Cabella looked outstanding against Chelsea last weekend, adding a creativity and drive on the wing that the Magpies have been craving all season.
In Ligue 1 last season he amassed 14 goals and 5 assists, averaging 2.2 key passes per match. Newcastle have finally now seen glimpses of this ability.
Cabella's pace terrorised Chelsea in last weekend's fixture; it was a stark contrast from the kind of performances Newcastle fans had come to expect, as exemplified in the reverse fixture back in December.
Only time will tell if his display was indicative of a true talent; we will get a firmer impression of his capabilities after his head-to-head with Ryan Bertrand, one of the best left-backs in the division.
These Stats Zone screens highlight the variation in Cabella's game; his dribbling skills come to the fore when played from the wing (left, green stars), but his creativity is more fully unleashed when fielded in a No.10 role (right).
Of course, the quality of France's top division is inferior to the Premier League, particularly in terms of speed and defensive pressure. As such, Cabella will find it difficult to hit the heights of his Montpellier spell, especially now that – following his eye-catching display at Stamford Bridge – opposition managers will be watching him keenly.
Southampton, and Bertrand in particular, will almost certainly approach Cabella more warily than they would have done a week ago.
The most intriguing battle of Saturday evening's match at St James' Park may well be the face-off between these two; will Bertrand be forced into a more defensive role than usual, or will he continue to roam forward freely, and rely upon a central midfielder such as Jack Cork to deal with Cabella?
It should be here, on the Tadic/Cabella touchline that serves as the focal point of both teams' attacks, that this game will be won or lost.