By 90Min
October 14, 2017

Southampton host Newcastle on Sunday in a battle of north versus south, and both teams are sitting relatively comfortably in mid-table after seven matches.

Mauricio Pellegrino's men have struggled somewhat for goals, but have been solid enough at the back which has see them be able win a couple of games.

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Rafa Benitez and Newcastle have probably made a better start than most anticipated after a fairly shambolic summer where transfers were concerned - the Magpies lie ninth on ten points, and another win could see them sitting pretty in a Europa League place.

The Saints have lost their last two and will be keen to stop their run from spiralling, and Newcastle are also hoping to get back to winning ways after their respectable draw with Liverpool before the international break.

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The Toon Army have a squad full of niggling injuries at the time of writing, and so it could well be that Benitez has to field a somewhat make-shift starting XI, and Southampton may eye their wounded opponents as potential for points - factor in the visitors' poor record at St. Mary's, and it starts to become a very tough trip indeed for Newcastle.


Classic Encounter


Southampton 3-1 Newcastle (April 2016)


The Saints easily defeated their opponents in the sides' last encounter at St. Mary's and the result went a long way in relegating Newcastle to the Championship.

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Shane Long took just four minutes to open the scoring against a hapless United defence, and further goals from Graziano Pelle and Victor Wanyama were enough to mean Andros Townsend's screamer was nothing but a consolation.


Key Battles


Manolo Gabbiadini vs Jamaal Lascelles

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Gabbiadini, if Pellegrino knows what's good, should be brought back into the starting XI. Southampton are struggling for goals and Shane Long hasn't scored since February. He is a terrific finishers as he demonstrate in flashes last season, and could given Lascelles one or two problems at St. Mary's with his clever movement.

Joselu vs Virgil van Dijk

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Spanish striker Joselu is still finding his feet with Newcastle and has managed two goals so far, but it could have been a lot more. Another man trying to re-find his feet is Virgil van Dijk - the Dutchman was poor against Stoke before the international break and will need to be back on his game against Joselu on Sunday.

DeAndre Yedlin vs Ryan Bertrand

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This could be a particularly interesting battle. Both players, particularly Yedlin, have pace in abundance and both are keen to bomb forward on the overlap of their wingers. It might come down to who defends better on the day as to who gets the better of who.


Team News


Southampton

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Pellegrino doesn't have too many injury concerns going into the game - only Matt Targett (ankle) and Shane Long (hip) are doubts leading up to the game.

Newcastle


The Magpies have a number of injury doubts leading up to the game - Paul Dummett and Massadio Haidara are long term absentees. Matt Ritchie has been struggling with a thigh injury and will be given ever chance to place, and Christian Atsu withdrew from the Ghana national squad over the international break with a knee problem. Jonjo Shelvey has a hand injury but is more likely to play than the aforementioned.


Predicted Line Ups

Southampton(4-2-3-1): Forster; Soares, van Dijk, Yoshida, Bertrand; Lemina, Romeu; Tadic, Davis, Redmond; Gabbiadini.

Newcastle (4-2-3-1): Elliot; Yedlin, Clark, Lascelles, Manquillo; Hayden, Diame; Ritchie, Merino, Perez; Joselu.

Prediction

Newcastle have work to do to get their players fit for the game, but even then they may struggle against Southampton who have a very good home record against the Magpies. If the Saints catch the visitor's cold, then Pellegrino's men could steal the points and leapfrog their opponents in the table.


PREDICTED SCORE: Newcastle 1-0 Southampton

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