Fantastic Southampton looking for a top four place but face tough Newcastle test
Southampton 1-1 Newcastle
Southampton and Newcastle have both quietly improved their performances and results since the early part of the season, with the two teams coming into this game in fine form.
The Saints are unbeaten across their past five matches in the league, while Newcastle have faced just a single defeat during that time, where admittedly they went down poorly 4-1 to Manchester United.
Danny Ings has been fantastic for Southampton, continuing his wonderful form from last season in front of goal, propelling The Saints into joint-fourth with Everton, who topped the table not too long ago.
It was indeed Everton who were beaten by Newcastle last weekend, The Magpies showing great resilience at the back and efficiency in front of goal.
However, with Danny Ings out injured for Southampton, they will have to turn to others for goals and therefore their chances of winning this game could be reduced.
Form Guide (all comps): WWDWW
Reasons to be cheerful:
Fabulous form coming into this match
Four wins out of their last five is as good as any team in the league
Reasons to be fearful:
Are sure to struggle without Danny Ings who needs knee surgery
Newcastle’s attackers are likewise in great form
Ralph Hasenhuttl has done a terrific job at Southampton.
When you consider that after losing 9-0 to Leicester just over a year ago, he was considered almost a certainty for the sack, he has inspired some great performances out of his players, none less than Danny Ings, who is one short of 30 goals since the start of last season.
With Ings now out for the next month or so, The Saints will have to find a way of replacing his goals which will be no easy achievement.
Che Adams has impressed alongside Ings this season, scoring twice, while James Ward-Prowse showed his continued ability from free-kick positions with two goals last weekend. Theo Walcott could come into the side.
Southampton have conceded 12 goals, which is the second-highest in the top half of the table – they let in 3 against Villa last weekend and Newcastle’s attack will see that as cause for optimism.
Star Man – Che Adams
Has worked well with Danny Ings so far, but now needs to be the main man
Form Guide (all comps): WWLDW
Reasons to be cheerful
Callum Wilson is in red hot form this season
Only one defeat in five represents improvement over early part of season
Reasons to be fearful
Southampton’s intense style of play will cause them problems
Without a clean sheet since Gameweek 1
Manager Steve Bruce seems to divide opinion wherever he operates, but his side’s performances so far this season have been testament to how he has set up his team to be solid, while also being efficient in attack.
Bringing in Callum Wilson looks to be one of the signings of the season so far – his two goals to sink Everton were taken with the confidence of a striker at the peak of his powers.
His contribution to Newcastle is similar to that of Southampton’s Danny Ings, so the fact that the Saints’ star is injured is a massive boost to The Magpies.
Bruce will want a tighter defence, not having kept a clean sheet since the first match of the season, and even though Ings is injured, Southampton will still threaten.
Star Man – Callum Wilson
Six goals this season – many teams will be jealous of the quality of Newcastle’s striker
Ings’ absence will be a big blow to Southampton’s hopes
However, The Saints will still play the same way
Newcastle will give up possession and look to counter quickly
This should be an entertaining game.
Southampton’s position should surprise no one, considering the way in which they play football and the quality which their forward players possess.
No doubt about it, Ings will be a huge miss and as good as Che Adams and others are, Newcastle will see it as a bonus. It could go either way, but both sides would be happy with a point here.
Southampton 1-1 Newcastle