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Newcastle v Southampton: Match Preview
Newcastle and Southampton’s Premier League safety is almost secure after important wins over Leicester and Wolves respectively.
However, Cardiff City’s 2-0 victory over relegation-threatened Brighton on Monday night means that there’s plenty to play for under the lights at St. James’ Park on Saturday evening.
The Magpies currently sit in 15th, seven points above the relegation and two points ahead of their visitors from the South Coast.
They’ve played one game more than the Saints and a win for Hasenhüttl’s side would see them leapfrog their hosts.
Newcastle took a big step towards retaining their Premier League status with a 1-0 victory over a resurgent Leicester last time out.
Ayoze Perez scored his first away league goal of the season with a glancing first half header and the Magpies held firm to secure all three points in a model away performance.
The Spaniard has been directly involved in four of their last six league goals (three goals, one assist), scoring three of their last five.
But it’s the diminutive frontman’s forward partner who has impressed for the Toon this season.
On loan West Bromwich Albion striker Salomon Rondon has been a revelation since his move from the Black Country in August, scoring nine Premier League goals – 10 in all competitions – as well as providing five assists from 26 starts.
Doubts remain over whether Newcastle can meet the £16.5m release clause in the summer – a figure that could rise to £20m if West Brom are promoted – but what’s for certain is that the Venezuelan has become the heartbeat of Benitez’s Newcastle team.
Newcastle will be confident of picking up requisite points to ensure survival against Southampton, Brighton, Liverpool and already-relegated Fulham, but they can’t afford to rest on their laurels on 38 points.
Newcastle have a good record against Southampton, having only lost one of their last 13 Premier League home games against Saturday’s opponents, and with one win set to all but guarantee survival, they will be targeting another three points against the Saints.
Southampton have been revitalised under Hasenhüttl since the former RB Leipzig manager was appointed to replace Mark Hughes in December.
When he took over just before the festive period, Southampton were 18th with only nine points from 15 games.
Since then, the Austrian has guided the Saints to wins over Arsenal and Tottenham and a 3-1 victory over Wolves last time out pulled them further clear of the drop zone.
In fact, Southampton have won eight of their 18 Premier League games under Hasenhuttl, as many as they’d won in 52 games under their two previous permanent managers combined.
Nathan Redmond scored twice against a misfiring Wolves at St. Mary’s and substitute Shane Long scored a third after the break in an impressive display against the beaten FA Cup semi-finalists.
The winger has been in fine form since the turn of the year and his double against Wolves was just his second Premier League brace, and his first since March 2017 against Watford.
Hasenhuttl has been compared to Liverpool boss Jürgen Klopp and although his adaptation of the ‘gegenpress’ has resulted in an upturn in form, they are still four points adrift of the 40-point mark.
Speaking after the victory over the Wolves he said “I can guarantee we will do everything we can to get to 40 points.”
Newcastle and Southampton can see the light at the end of the tunnel, but both can ill-afford a slip up at the final hurdle.
Newcastle v Southampton: The Managers
Newcastle manager Benitez: "I said 38 points (would be enough) a long time ago. Cardiff have won a couple of games before that, and now it’s even more important for us to win another game, be sure everything is fine and then we can start thinking about how high we can go in the table.
“We played a very good game and everyone could see that. Southampton are also coming into this game with a lot of confidence, so I think it will be an interesting game.
“I think it will be very similar to the Palace game, but hopefully the result will be different. Both teams are similar – they are very good on the counter attack, aggressive, and they have pace up front. We know we can’t make the same mistakes.
"Today, I was talking to some players and said we just have to concentrate on what we have to do. We are professionals and have to do our job in the best way possible. I think the players know that.
"Each one is different and have their own ways to approach the situation. We need to make sure we can get three points in the next game and try to go as high as possible in the table.
“It depends on us, first of all, but also Southampton, Brighton and Cardiff. It's very tight but I’m sure if we win this game, then that will be enough. We have to be sure we don’t approach the game with complacency. We have to be really focussed – like they will be.”
Southampton manager Hasenhuttl: "For sure we need more than 36 points," Hasenhuttl said as he prepared the squad for Saturday's trip to Newcastle.
"We are five points clear of Cardiff, three points clear of Brighton. But you see the result on Tuesday shows nobody gives up, there is no knockout for Cardiff, they are still alive.
"I expect them to fight very hard until the end. We have to do the same, and I can guarantee we will do.
"We have been speaking about the 40 points and therefore we need four more."
Newcastle v Southampton: Team News
The Toon will be without long term absentees Sean Longstaff and Florian Lejeune, both of whom are recovering from serious knee injuries that will keep them sidelined for the remainder of the season.
Other than that, Benitez can afford to call upon a full squad for the visit of in-form Southampton.
Southampton centre-back Jannik Vestergaard has been suffering with a slight problem since last weekend's win over Wolves and is doubtful, although Hasenhüttl was optimistic he would return to training ahead of the game.
Alex McCarthy and Matt Targett suffered minor issues in training this week, but might still be available, while Mario Lemina is now close to a return and Yan Valery is fit after picking up a knock last Saturday.
Newcastle v Southampton: Head-to-head
Southampton have only lost one of their most recent nine Premier League games with Newcastle (W4 D4), though that defeat came in this exact fixture last season (0- 3).
Previous five meetings:
|27/10/2018||Premier League||Southampton 0-0 Newcastle|
|10/03/2018||Premier League||Newcastle 3-0 Southampton||Kenedy (2), Ritchie|
|15/10/2017||Premier League||Southampton 2-2 Newcastle||Gabbiadini (2); Hayden, Perez|
|09/04/2016||Premier League||Southampton 3-1 Newcastle||Long, Pelle, Wanyama; Townsend|
|17/01/2015||Premier League||Newcastle 1-2 Southampton||Gouffran; Elia (2)|
Newcastle v Southampton: Key Stats
Only at home to Spurs (12), Everton (13) and Aston Villa (14) have Newcastle won more Premier League games at St. James’ Park than they have against Southampton (11).
Newcastle have only lost one of their last 13 Premier League home games against Southampton (W9 D3), losing 1-2 in January 2015.
Newcastle’s defeat against Crystal Palace in their last home match ended a run of five consecutive victories at St James’ Park. They last lost consecutive home league games in December (vs West Ham and Wolves).
Southampton have won four of their last six Premier League games (L2), as many as they had in their previous 23 in the competition (W4 D8 L11).
Southampton are looking to secure consecutive away wins in the Premier League for the first time since March 2017, having won at Brighton in their last game on the road.
70% of Newcastle’s Premier League victories this season have been by a one-goal margin (7/10) – only Brighton have won a higher percentage of their Premier League games by one goal this term.
Southampton have won as many Premier League games in 18 matches manager Ralph Hasenhüttl (W8 D3 L7) as they had in 52 games under their last two permanent managers combined (Mark Hughes and Mauricio Pellegrino; W8 D21 L23).
Ayoze Pérez has been involved in five goals in his last six home league games for Newcastle, scoring four and assisting another.
- Southampton striker Shane Long has scored in his last two Premier League games – he’s never scored in three in a row in the competition before.
Newcastle v Southampton: Match Odds
Odds correct at time of writing, courtesy of Bet 365.