The fun continues with this series as we shift our focus to Southampton. The Saints currently sit in the middle of the Premier League table at 10th. With four games remaining, Southampton could finish as high as eighth or as low as 16th because of how close every team outside the top seven is in points. Well except Sunderland of course.
With one of the better keepers in the Premier League in Fraser Forster and a solid backline featuring Virgil van Dijk and Ryan Bertrand, Southampton have been solid defensively. They’ve allowed the eighth fewest goals in the league this season and have the fourth most clean sheets on the year at 13. This team is not easy to score against on a regular basis.
Where the Saints struggle is at the attacking end. Charlie Austin and Nathan Redmond lead the club with six goals each. As a team, Southampton have scored only 39 goals in 34 matches, tied for sixth fewest in England this year. This group also loves to cross the ball, with the most crosses of any team in the Premier League this season. Newcastle could struggle against a team who likes to cross due to the relatively poor play of Paul Dummett at left back.
While the Toon only managed to secure one point against Southampton last season in the Premier League, I could see Newcastle coming away with two draws against Southampton. The Saints do not score much and defend well. Newcastle score a lot but the defense is a little more shaky. I could see Dwight Gayle beating Forster to put Newcastle ahead before Austin responds after latching on to a Redmond cross. A 1-1 draw at St. James’ Park seems a fitting result between these two sides.
Traveling to Southampton could find it tougher for the Magpies to break through. Van Dijk is powerful enough to neutralize Aleksander Mitrović for the majority of the match. DeAndre Yedlin is quick enough to prevent too many crosses coming in from the left while the pair of Ciaran Clark and Jamaal Lascelles can contend with either Austin or Jay Rodriguez in the middle. Southampton have held much better offensive clubs than Newcastle scoreless this year, so a goalless draw away would be a solid result for the Magpies.
It might just be two points, but from a middle of the table club like Southampton, two points is a solid result for a team that lacks talent at attacking midfield and left back. Not to mention the rash of injuries Newcastle has had to the rest of the backline. Overall, I think Newcastle can walk away happy to take two draws from the Saints.