Southampton v Newcastle: Magpies can build on cup form

Newcastle manager Steve Bruce
Newcastle boss Steve Bruce has more options in attack now

Andrew Atherley says the odds might underestimate Newcastle in Saturday's match at St Mary's...

"Newcastle have won away in the last two rounds of the FA Cup and their front three clicked at West Brom on Tuesday with Almiron's two goals assisted by Saint-Maximin and Joelinton. Perhaps that is the spark their attackers needed."

Recommended Bet
Back Newcastle off 0 on Asian handicap at 4.31

Southampton v Newcastle
Saturday 7 March, 15:00

Defensive questions

After losing the reverse fixture 2-1 in early December, Southampton were third-bottom of the Premier League but within a fortnight their remarkable transformation had kicked in and now they lie in a much more comfortable 13th, seven points clear of the drop zone.

Their form has stalled, however, with three defeats in their last four league matches, most recently a 3-1 loss at West Ham.

Ralph Hasenhuttl was far from happy with his defence last week, switching from a back three to five during the match, and he might make changes here.

James Ward-Prowse has been stationed at right-back in recent matches but could go back to midfield now, with Kyle Walker-Peters and Yan Valery both available to slot into defence.

Key attacking midfielder Nathan Redmond remains out with a muscle injury. Moussa Djenepo, who played well in the 2-0 win over Aston Villa in the last home match, could return after missing West Ham on compassionate grounds.

Michael Obafemi scored at West Ham after being given a starting place ahead of Danny Ings but the Saints' top scorer looks set to return here.

Options in attack

Newcastle are one place and two points below Southampton and have failed to score in four consecutive Premier League games (two goalless home draws and two away defeats).

Their last league win was six games ago, 1-0 at home to Chelsea on January 18, but they will take encouragement from their run to the FA Cup quarter-finals, which continued on Tuesday night with a 3-2 win at Championship leaders West Brom.

A shortening injury list gives Steve Bruce more options, especially in attack. Allan Saint-Maximin, Joelinton, Miguel Almiron and Valentino Lazaro started the FA Cup game but Bruce can also call on Dwight Gayle and Matt Ritchie.

Nabil Bentaleb also performed well in midfield against West Brom.

Southampton short for the win

Much of Southampton's improvement has been on the road (12 points away, seven points at home since their winning run started) but they beat Aston Villa 2-0 in their last match at St Mary's.

Hasenhuttl's side still sit bottom of the Premier League home table, however, with a W4 D2 L8 record, although it has improved a little to W2 D1 L2 since their improvement started.

The teams who have beaten them at home during that recent run (Wolves and Burnley) are both in the top 10 away sides, whereas Newcastle are 15th in that ranking.

The Saints are W4 D0 L3 against sides in the bottom 10 on away form, which indicates a reasonable chance of success here but with some doubt given the short odds of 1.75/7.

Newcastle are winless on the road since their 2-0 victory at high-flying Sheffield United on December 5 (W0 D2 L4 since then) but they have won away in the last two rounds of the FA Cup and their front three clicked at West Brom on Tuesday with Almiron's two goals assisted by Saint-Maximin and Joelinton.

Perhaps that is the spark their attackers needed and they will be dangerous on the break in that form.

Given that Southampton are a poor price as favourites, Newcastle look worth chancing for an upset - 5.79/2 in the Match Odds, with the Draw at 4.1 - and they are attractive enough off 0 on the Asian handicap at 4.31, which is the same as draw no bet.

Saints high for goals

Southampton rank fifth for matches with over 2.5 goals (64%) but Newcastle are at the opposite end, ranking joint-fourth-bottom on 43%.

The Saints show no variation home or away, but Newcastle's figure rises slightly to 50% on the road.

Much comes down to whether Newcastle score and, if they do, over 2.5 goals seems likely at 1.9210/11. In that event, however, a Newcastle win would become more viable and the odds on that are much bigger.

Opta Stat

Only Liverpool (8) and Manchester City (5) have won more Premier League games so far in 2020 than Southampton (4). However, only West Ham and Bournemouth (5 each) have lost more games this calendar year than Saints (4). Newcastle are 5.79/2 to inflict another defeat here.

Recommended Bet
Back Newcastle off 0 on Asian handicap at 4.27

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