The FourFourTwo Preview: Newcastle vs Southampton
Newcastle being brought back down to earth with a bump.
What a difference four days can make. Newcastle fans may need reminding they lost 3-0 at Swansea two games ago, ending a run of four straight victories.
- Man Utd 0-1 Newcastle (Prem)
- Swansea 3-0 Newcastle (Prem)
- Newcastle 2-1 WBA (Prem)
- Newcastle 2-1 Norwich (Prem)
- Spurs 0-1 Newcastle (Prem)
- So'ton 1-1 Man City (Prem)
- So'ton 2-3 Aston Villa (Prem)
- Chelsea 3-1 So'ton (Prem)
- Arsenal 2-0 So'ton (Prem)
- So'ton 4-1 Hull (Prem)
Instead, the Toon will still be in a tizz over their 1-0 triumph at Old Trafford last weekend. Many of their supporters would never have savoured a Newcastle win away at Manchester United; the last one coming back in 1972, just a week after being humbled by Ronnie Radford & Co. in the FA Cup. You’d forgive them a few days to celebrate, and probably a little longer after that.
But they’ll be wary of such delirium spilling into the weekend as the increasingly admired Southampton – lying just a place and three points below them in the table – head north fresh from running free-scoring Manchester City close last time out.
Having cancelled out Sergio Aguero’s early strike at St Mary’s through Pablo Osvaldo’s wonder goal, skipper Adam Lallana felt the improved Saints did enough to warrant a win over the Blues.
The stalemate with City ended a run of three successive defeats for Maurico Pochettino’s men; a surprise home loss to Aston Villa following spirited but ultimately unsuccessful trips to Arsenal and Chelsea, the latter proving too powerful in the second half.
Add a League Cup loss to Sunderland into the mix and Saints have lost three away games on the spin since picking up a point at Old Trafford and all three at Anfield. That run will end sooner rather than later given their displays at the Emirates Stadium and Stamford Bridge, but Newcastle is no happy hunting ground for the south coast club.
The Toon have triumphed in each of the last six meetings in the north-east and nine of the last 10; Saints’ last win coming via the boot of Matthew Le Tissier back in 1997. In fact, Newcastle have only ever been beaten at home by Saturday’s opponents on four of the last 41 occasions since 1923. But if they can win at Old Trafford…
Southampton have been ravaged by injury in recent weeks, in particular to key quartet Artur Boruc (hand), Victor Wanyama (leg), Nathaniel Clyne (pelvis) and Morgan Schneiderlin (groin). Danny Fox, Kelvin Davis and Guly Do Prodo are also sidelined for the foreseeable future. There is some ‘good’ news in that out-of-favour attacking midfielder Gaston Ramirez is available again after recovering from illness.
In contrast, Newcastle have no fresh injury worries – other than long-term absentee Ryan Taylor – with right-back Mathieu Debuchy fit again after limping off at Old Trafford with a thigh problem. The only bad news is that last weekend's match-winner Yohan Cabaye is suspended having collected five yellow cards.
Player to watch: Cheick Tiote (Newcastle)
While Cabaye grabbed the goal to seal Newcastle’s first win at Old Trafford in more than 40 years, Ivory Coast enforcer Tiote was the real star of the show. The former Twente man did not give Man United’s midfield an inch, comfortably topping the passing charts with 66 out of 73 successful. And he was also one of the leading players defensively, making 7 ball recoveries, 4 interceptions and 5 tackles for his side.
In the absence of Victor Wanyama and Morgan Schneiderlin, Tiote will be looking to nip Southampton’s assaults in the bud, freeing up others to raid forward and pick apart Pochettino’s back-line.
LAST FIVE MEETINGS
- N'castle 4-2 So'ton (Prem, Feb 13)
- So'ton 2-0 N'castle (Prem, Nov 12)
- N'castle 1-0 So'ton (FAC, Feb 06)
- N'castle 2-1 So'ton (Prem, Jan 05)
- So'ton 1-2 N'castle (Prem, Sep 04)
Pardew once again faces the side that controversially sacked him in 2010, just three games into the League One season having led the Saints to Football League Trophy success at Wembley five months before; the club’s first silverware since 1976.
He got the better of Pochettino in the pair’s only previous meeting in February; a see-saw 4-2 victory at St James’ Park after a third-minute opener from Schneiderlin.
TIPS & TRENDS
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Facts and figures
- Only Liverpool vs Tottenham (8) has seen more own goals than Newcastle v Southampton (7) in Premier League history.
- Southampton have scored the joint-most own goals at St James' Park (4) of any team on any away ground in Premier League history (along with Liverpool at White Hart Lane and West Ham at Anfield).
- Alan Pardew’s side haven’t scored more than two goals in a Premier League game since February – in a 4-2 win against Southampton. They have netted 27 in their last 26 PL games.
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A seventh straight home win over a Saints side still missing key men in midfield. 3-1.