Southampton v Newcastle United: Master to defeat the apprentice

Rafa Benitez is one of Newcastle's greatest assets
Rafa Benitez is one of Newcastle's greatest assets

Two old friends do battle this weekend, and Kevin Hatchard believes it'll be the more experienced of the two managers who comes out on top...

"Newcastle have scored just once on their travels, while Saints have failed to score in all but one of their home games."

Back Under 2.5 Goals at 1.84/5

Southampton v Newcastle United
Sunday October 15, 16:00
Live on Sky Sports Main Event

Struggling Saints in need of a boost

Southampton have built up a fine reputation in recent years for prudence. They have been astute in their acquisition of managers, with Mauricio Pochettino and Ronald Koeman both proving to be successful before moving on to pastures new. An excellent youth system has produced a steady stream of saleable assets, and there has been a general feeling that this is a club on the up.

However, there is growing concern that the decision to jettison French boss Claude Puel after just one season may have proved a touch hasty. After all, he led Saints to a Wembley final and a perfectly respectable eighth position in the Premier League. A decline in his relationship with his players ultimately cost Puel, but his replacement Mauricio Pellegrino is finding life tough on the south coast.

Southampton have won just twice all season in the league, and one of those victories was against rock-bottom Crystal Palace. The goals have dried up, with Saints scoring just twice in their last six matches in all competitions. The goalscoring issues have been particularly acute at St Mary's - Pellegrino's side have played five home games in all competitions this term, and have drawn a blank in four of them.

At least former Alaves boss Pellegrino has some good news on the injury front. No-one was injured on international duty, and striker Shane Long has been passed fit.

Magpies a quarter of the way to heaven

Newcastle United fans are sometimes accused of having delusions of grandeur, of believing that their beloved club has a greater stature than it actually does. However, even the most ardent of Magpies supporters will have one goal in mind for this season, and that's retaining Premier League status.

On that basis, Newcastle have already made 25% of their progress towards the magic 40-point mark. After a horrible start that saw them lose their first two Premier League games and tumble out of the League Cup to Nottingham Forest, the Magpies have spread their wings and slowed their drop. A run of three straight wins sent them soaring up the standings, and they dug in well to claim a 1-1 draw against Liverpool before the international break.

The agreement of a new deal with skipper Jamaal Lascelles and the permanent signing of promising young midfielder Mikel Merino has further improved the mood, although boss Rafa Benitez has sounded a note of caution. His opposite number Pellegrino played for him at Valencia and Liverpool, and was part of his coaching staff at Anfield and Inter Milan. Benitez says that means Pellegrino essentially has inside information, but of course that works both ways.

Hosts too short in what should be tight contest

Southampton have only won once at home, and that was a 3-2 victory over West Ham that saw them labour past ten men with a last-gasp penalty. Although Newcastle have lost two of their three away games, and both defeats came against fellow newly-promoted sides, they have recovered well from a shaky start and have a bit of momentum.

I can't get on board with backing Saints to win at 1.865/6, and in fact that's a price I'd happily take on.

Don't expect a south coast spectacular

Saints are barely scoring at home, and Newcastle have scored just one goal on their travels. Both managers are defensive and cautious by nature, and know each other inside out.

Under 2.5 Goals is trading at 1.84/5, and quite frankly I thought it would be shorter than that.

Back a blank scoresheet at the break

All three of Newcastle's Premier League away games this term have been goalless at half time. Given Saints' problems in front of goal, especially on home soil, I don't think it'd be unreasonable to back 0-0 in the Half Time Score market at 2.226/5.

Recommended Bets

Back Under 2.5 Goals at 1.84/5
Lay Southampton at 1.865/6

Kevin Hatchard 2017-18 Premier League P/L

Points Staked: 11

Points Returned: 12.48

P/L: +1.48 points

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