Two sides that have moved further away from the relegation zone in recent weeks clash on Saturday in the prime time match of the English Premier League weekend as Newcastle host Southampton.
St James Park, Newcastle, England
Key Stat: Newcastle are unbeaten (2D, 1W) against Southampton in the last three matches after they went six winless prior to that against the Saints.
Expert Verdict: Two sides that look like they are just about safe now clash here, with the opportunity to pull further clear of the mess toward the bottom here. Given the way the sides have seen an uptick in form, it makes it harder to forecast. For that very reason, though, siding with the home team is the best bet. Southampton do come off a nice win, but that was at home. The Magpies are inconsistent, sure, but they can be buoyed on by their fans and cross the 40 point threshold.
Rafa Benitez remains without center back Florian Lejuene and young but brilliant midfielder Sean Longstaff for this fixture but otherwise has a full side as he and his charges look to get across the 40-point line.
Ayoze Perez has looked like a changed man since February, and that helped them get a win to turn around a three game winless streak last weekend. His goal, his seventh of the season, was the fourth he has scored since the aforementioned month, showing he has much more freedom and confidence about him. Matt Ritchie is the man that supplied him the ball, underlining the threat he has become from left wing back this season. It was his fifth assist in the league already and could prove decisive in the final reckoning.
Newcastle have two wins, two losses, and a draw in their last five matches:
0-1 win at Leicester
0-1 home loss vs Crystal Palace
2-0 loss at Arsenal
2-2 draw at Bournemouth
3-2 home win vs Everton
Defenders:Yedlin, Schar, Lascelles, Dummett, Ritchie
Midfielders:Perez, Hayden, Ki, Almiron
Ralph Hasenhuttl will be forced to make do without midfielder Mario Lemina and forward Michael Obafemi but otherwise has a full side to pick from as they also seek to get closer to the 40 points they need to assure safety.
It was yet another fine day for Saints winger/forward Nathan Redmond last weekend as he scored twice in the opening 30 minutes to give his side a lead from which they wouldn’t ever give up. The Englishman had looked poor for the better part of two seasons up until the arrival of his new manager but not looks reinvigorated and like the match winner he’s always been capable of being. In midfield, look for James Ward-Prowse to play a key role. Newcastle like to get forward a lot on the counter, so it will be interesting to see if he can get his foot on the ball and kill that off from the get-go.
Southampton have three wins and two losses in their last five matches:
3-1 home win vs Wolves
1-3 home loss vs Liverpool
0-1 win at Brighton
2-1 home win vs Tottenham
3-2 loss at Manchester United
Defenders:Bednarek, Yoshida, Vestergaard
Midfielders:Valery, Ward-Prowse, Hojbjerg, Bertrand
Forwards:Sims, Redmond, Ings
Southampton have the chance to even up the score against Newcastle in this, the 62nd match of the series. So far, Newcastle edge it with 23 wins, 17 draws, and 22 losses.
Here's a look at the last five results:
Oct 27, 2018: Southampton 0-0 Newcastle
Mar 10, 2018: Newcastle 3-0 Southampton
Oct 15, 2017: Southampton 2-2 Newcastle
Apr 9, 2016: Southampton 3-1 Newcastle
Aug 9, 2015: Newcastle 2-2 Southampton
Bet365 have the following odds available for this match:
Newcastle are at 7/5 to win, a draw is at 11/5, and a Southampton win is at 2/1.
Newcastle enter this weekend in 15th place from the opening 34 games of the season having earned 38 points so far. Typically, the target for teams to stay up is 40, so they are very much close to grabbing that here. Even if they don’t, they have a couple of good chances to get those points, even though it looks like they might not even need them in the end. In their last five matches, they have had a mixed bag with two wins and a draw.
Remaining Fixtures: vs Southampton, @ Brighton, vs Liverpool, @ Fulham
Southampton are in a similar spot as Newcastle, though they are two points behind the pace of their hosts here. They are just a little closer to the bottom, but they still don’t have a huge worry just yet. They can just about get home with a win here, but they still have some very good shots to get there if this one doesn’t work out now. They have three wins from their last five matches, showing that they are in fairly good form at the moment.
Remaining Fixtures: @ Newcastle, @ Watford, vs Bournemouth, @ West Ham, vs Huddersfield
The Magpies have enjoyed a hit or miss type of season in the league this term. On the surface, it doesn’t look that great with 22 points coming from 17 matches. They have seven wins, a single draws, and nine losses. And they have scored just 19 goals, but it hasn’t held them back since they have surged of late to win four of their last five and taking 12 points from the last 15 on offer at St. James’.
The Saints have had less than a point earned per away match, totaling up to just 15 from 16 outings. That puts them in 14th as the table currently sits, but it has just about been enough to ensure their safety in the top flight. They only have four away wins, but two of them have came in their last five away trips, with seven points coming. This means they are going to carry a threat in this encounter for sure.
Ladbrokes have no for both teams scoring at 4/5.
Perez to score anytime, via Betfair, is at 3.75.
Newcastle are looking to finish off the season in fine style, and this home clash is the ideal time for them to put their troubles to bed. They do so with a fine showing from Perez and co. to silence the doubters for a few months.