Two sides coming off the back of disappointing defeats meet at St James' Park on Saturday, as Newcastle welcome Southampton
After both sides suffered defeat in midweek, Newcastle host Southampton at St James’ Park on Saturday afternoon, hoping to extend the Saints’ recent miserable run.
If Southampton fans were sick of their 9-0 defeat to Leicester being mentioned every time they played a game since, they really could have done without repeating the score line at Old Trafford on Tuesday night. While that mauling was being handed out, Newcastle were blowing a 1-0 lead to lose 2-1 at home to Crystal Palace, ensuring no one goes into this game full of confidence.
As well as having no confidence right now, Ralph Hassenhuttl has barely any players to choose from. The defeat in Manchester was largely down to having no fewer than 11 players out through injury, forcing the Austrian to turn to his academy graduates. It didn’t go well.
Steve Bruce didn’t have such an obvious excuse after Gary Cahill’s header earned Palace a win at St James’ Park, and instead must look at where things went wrong after taking the lead inside 90 seconds. 61% possession and 21 shots suggests a lack of cutting edge, despite a much improved performance.
As they toiled to find an equaliser, Bruce introduced Allan Saint-Maximin to liven things up, and the Frenchman is expected to start his first game since November when Southampton make the long trip North. Defender Achraf Lazaar was released on Thursday, after spending four and a half years as a Newcastle player, making just four league appearances during that time.
Matt Ritchie could return to the squad after missing out last time as Bruce gave the winger time to mentally refocus after a January transfer to Bournemouth fell through. The Geordies have three definite absentees for the game, with captain Jamaal Lascelles and fellow defenders Federico Fernandez and Jamal Lewis ruled out.
It’s an injury list Hassenhuttl would give an arm to have, as he continues to struggle to get a team together. Alex Jankewitz and Jan Bednarek were both sent off against Man United but the Polish defender’s dismissal has been overturned after an appeal, so he’ll be available.
That means there’s holes in both Southampton’s midfield and defence, with Jannik Vestergaard not yet back from a knee injury, and Oriol Romeu still out as well. New loan signing Takumi Minamino is likely to start as a result, as Hassenhuttl tries to patch a team together.
Mohamed Salisu, Nathan Tella, Will Smallbone, Kyle Walker-Peters, Michael Obafemi, Theo Walcott and Ibrahima Diallo are all injured.
With Brighton picking up back-to-back wins recently, Newcastle need the points to go back above the Seagulls this weekend, while Saints need to pick up a victory to stop their run of four straight defeats since beating Premier League champions Liverpool back at the start of January.
Newcastle take on Southampton at St James’ Park on Saturday, February 6th. Kick-off is at 3pm