Newcastle are set to take on Southampton after an impressive performance against a weakened Crystal Palace side that saw them dominate multiple facets of the match, but ultimately still lose the match.
Newcastle outperformed Crystal Palace on paper, as they should have won the match by at least a goal according to xG. The issue is that they didn’t. They lost due to what could be described as a ‘temporary lapse of focus’ during a ten-minute stretch in which Palace converted two chances. The bigger issue for Newcastle is that despite dominating possession, they were not able to create clear cut chances, especially when Palace sat back and held their shape/ Newcastle have not fared well when dominating possession under Bruce, so it was honestly not surprising that the team struggled to create chances when Palace sat back against them. As Chris Waugh pointed out in his piece regarding Newcastle’s relationship with possession, Newcastle only won once last season when dominating possession. This season they have won twice when dominating possession, but still have lost or drawn 2/3rds of the time they have had more possession than the opposition. The unfortunate thing for Newcastle is that it seems as if they struggle against teams who press effectively and teams who sit back against them. This is a literal nightmare scenario for Bruce, as he is taking on a heavily injured Southampton side that is capable of pressing effectively or sitting back in an organized shape.
Southampton enter this match after one of the most embarrassing matches in Southampton’s history since well... the last time they lost 9-0. Southampton’s troubles may not be as bad as the previous scoreline entails, but they are not in a good situation either. They went into the Manchester United match dealing with a massive injury crisis that meant the majority of their bench was made up of academy players. Like Newcastle, they only have one win in their last 5 Premier League matches, have lost 3 straight matches, and just have not looked like the Southampton that dominated the early facets of this season. The two red cards aside, it never looked as if Southampton was going to pick up any points against Manchester United.
Last 5 Matches
Newcastle 1-2 Crystal Palace
Everton 0-2 Newcastle
Newcastle 1-2 Leeds
Aston Villa 2-0 Newcast;e
Arsenal 3-0 Newcastle (FA Cup)
Manchester United 9-0 Southampton
Southampton 0-1 Aston Villa
Southampton 1-3 Arsenal
Southampton 1-0 Arsenal (FA Cup)
Southampton 2-0 Shrewsbury (FA Cup)
It’s fair to say Newcastle and Southampton have both been bitten by the injury bug. Both clubs are also desperate to give their loan signings a debut. This is the perfect match to do so, and honestly with all the defenders out this is an ideal debut environment for any attack-minded player.
Newcastle will definitely be without Lascelles, Fernandez, and Dummett once again. The big news going into this match was that it is also possible that Newcastle could be without Jamal Lewis who picked up a hamstring injury this week in training, and Ciaran Clark who could be missing this match due to the birth of his child. This of course creates a tricky scenario on the back-line as Newcastle would be missing a starting full-back, and potentially only have one center-back available. It would be rude of me not to mention that Newcaste did just allow a full-back who was playing regularly leave, and have a center-back who is performing well in Spain still out on loan. The good news for Newcastle is that Allan Saint-Maximin should be good to play a full 90 and that Joe Willock could likely make his debut. In other news, Christian Atsu has been added to the 25 man roster for Newcastle ahead of Henri Saivet.
Southampton have a lot of bad news regarding availability for this match, but they did receive a sliver of good news ahead of this match that could alleviate at least some of their concerns. Takumi Minamino is likely going to make his debut for Southampton which will certainly offer something different in attack for the side. The Japanese international is an effective presser who can play centrally, on the right, or on the left. Southampton defender Jan Bednarek had his red card overturned and will be available to play against Newcastle. Romeu, Walker-Peters, and Vestergaard have reportedly returned to training as well, but it is doubtful they are fit enough to start. The bad news for Southampton is that despite gaining some bodies back, they still have a myriad of people who are going to miss this match. Jankewitz is missing this match due to the red he picked up against Manchester United. Theo Walcott, Stuart Armstrong, William Smallbone, Nathan Tella, Michael Obafemi, Mohammed Salisu, and Ibrahima Diallo are all definitely missing the match. Salisu and Tella both returned to training Friday, but it is highly doubtful they play in the Newcastle match. Again, there is a possibility we see Walker-Peters, Vestergaard, and potentially Romeu in this match.
This is going to be tricky with all of the injuries and both managers trying to be as secretive as possible. Steve Bruce has once again hinted at the fact Saint-Maximin could start and has mentioned Willock would make an appearance. For Ralph Hasenhüttl it seems like each day he has revealed even more injury issues, which could mean that he bites the bullet and starts some players before they are ready to return.
With Newcastle’s lineup, I wanted to go with the worst possible scenario of Clark and Lewis missing out, and I once again wanted to stress that Dubravka should be starting at this point.
Newcastle Projected XI (4-3-3/4-4-2 Diamond): Dubravka; Ritchie, Hayden, Schar, Manquillo, Hendrick, Shelvey, Willock, Almirón, Saint-Maximin, Wilson.
For Southampton it is all a bit tricky, but if there was one player of the 3 that could return that would play the full 90 I think it could be Walker-Peters. It seems as if he was back in training before the other two, and Southampton have the least depth right now at the full-back position. The other issue is that with Jankewitz out, I have no idea what Southampton are going to do in the midfield. I would imagine they might opt to go with a traditional 4-4-2 instead of a 4-2-2-2 and stick Minamino in as a box to box midfielder. It is a risky strategy, but it is also risky throwing out an academy product to debut as a starter in a potential 6 pointer
Southampton Projected XI (4-4-2): McCarthy, Walker-Peters, Bednarek, Ramsay, Redmond, Ward-Prowse, Minamino, Djenepo, Adams, Ings
Newcastle are going to have a full-strength attack against a very weak Southampton defense that just had 9 put past them. I am sure they are going to be angry and want to retaliate, but the fact of the matter is that they are still weak in defense right now and they were not looking good as a defensive unit before the Manchester United match. Losing Vestergaard has been crucial as he is clearly their best out-and-out defender, and Jack Stephens has not been able to fill his shoes effectively. This is partially due to the fact that Stephens of course has had to play with a much worse back-line full of mostly reserve players, but he also is nowhere near the aerial threat Vestergaard has been at Southampton. I think he will struggle with the physicality Wilson brings to the table as well as the speed tof both ASM and Miggy.
I think Newcastle have some trouble with Southampton early on, but eventually score 2 goals in the first half or early in the second half to ride out a win against a heavily injured side.
Final score Newcastle 2-1 Southampton