Looking at the last decade, your beloved Magpies were entering their third season in England’s top-flight division ahead of the 2012-13 season. They were coming off their best finish in the Premier League (5th place) since they matched that position all the way back in 2004.
Southampton arrived in August 2013 having completed the rare feat of achieving back-to-back promotions from League One to the Championship and then to the EPL in time for the 2012-13 campaign.
Both teams finished that season close, Newcastle in 16th position and Southampton in 14th but with the same 41-point tally. Their fortunes changed from that point on, though, with Newcastle going on a downward trajectory ending in relegation (18th in 2016) and Southampton finishing between 8th and 6th in the following four seasons only to go all the way down to a near-relegation-bound 17th place in 2018.
That season, 2017-18, marked the return of Newcastle to the Premier League after spending one year in the Championship. From that point on, mediocrity has defined both NUFC and Soton.
The Magpies have finished 10th, 13th, 13th, 12th, and 11th in the past five seasons. Southampton has earned finishes in the 17th, 16th, 11th, 15th, and 15th. Talk about doing a whole lot of nothing.
Things have totally changed this year, though.
Newcastle and Southampton can’t be (virtually) more separated than they are in the table—NUFC sitting in third (pretty much the highest position any club not from Mars can aim to) and the Saints a dreadful 20th.
Newcastle have not finished a year in the dead-last place in their history since the Premier League became a thing. In fact, the Magpies have never finished a season lower than 18th. Southampton have only finished 20th once, all the way back in 2005 under the guidance of Harry Redknapp, and they went on to spend the following five campaigns down in the second level after finishing 2nd in 2012 to achieve promotion once and for all and never since then going down again. Things, though, look like they are about to change.
The Saints, simply put, need a miracle to avoid getting relegated this season.
Southampton are in 20th with 24 points and 33 games played. Nott Forest, the first team outside of the relegation zone, have 30 points and 34 games played. Considering Soton won’t be sniffing a single point today, that makes it a six-point gap between Southampton and Nott Forest with 34 games played each. No bueno.
The Saints need to get at least six points to escape the relegation zone even without considering whatever the rest of the teams fighting for survival do. That’s going to be insanely hard for Southampton to pull off. They can, in fact, get relegated two weeks from now if results don’t go their way.
The easiest path toward finishing 18th is beating Nott Forest on May 8, and go from there. But losing today would leave Southampton looking at four games (12 points max), a head-to-head against Nott Forest, and three more games (nine points) left. For you math wiz, that’s a potential maximum of 36 points through their remaining five games (again, they’ll lose against Newcastle today), so they have to hope at least two between Forest, Leeds (30pts), Leicester (29), and Everton (28) don’t get more than eight points through the next five games (four in the case of Forest, which have played 34 games already).
TLDR: See you in a few seasons when you come back up to the EPL from the Championship, Southampton. Thanks for the memories.
Howe took to the microphones and addressed the most pressing questions by the media on Thursday, following the win against Everton and right before returning to St James’ Park for the game against Southampton on Sunday, April 30th.
You can read everything Howe had to say here, as part of our pre-match coverage.
FotMob.com predictions at the upcoming Starting XIs from the Magpies and the Saints are in, so let’s go through what could be coming from Newcastle’s Eddie Howe.
- Not Available: Krafth (knee), Saint-Maximin (hamstring)
- Doubtful: —
- Clean bill of health (barring the already-known absences of Krafth and ASM) for Eddie Howe when it comes to banged-up lads in the squad. This means... no rotations unless someone can barely walk.
- That said, we have to at least give Howe a chance. Speaking after the game against Everton—when he actually rotated some of the members making it to the XI—Howe said that from this point of the year on he’ll just play whoever is the most fit among those eligible and capable of manning each position on the pitch. You can forget about watching an entirely new XI, though, because that won’t just happen.
- Of course, Nick Pope is going nowhere. Neither is Kieran Trippier—though he got to watch the odd cameo by Javi Manquillo against Tottenham, somehow—nor Sven Botman.
- Matt Targett finally started against Everton after not doing so against Tottenham. Fabian Schar might be the next casualty in the XI, though there’s not a clear-cut option to replace him without losing talent as the man tasked with giving him relief would be Jamaal Lascelles. Give me Lascelles and the return of Dan Burn.
- The midfield trio seems to be completely set in stone no matter the fitness of Sean Longstaff, Bruno, and Joe Willock. There is a chance Anthony Gordon and/or Elliot Anderson start somewhere in replacement of one of those three, but it’s hard to see it happening with Howe at the helm. Yes, even against bottom-dwellers Southampton...
- The forward line deployed against the Spurs featured Joelinton, Alexander Isak, and Jacob Murphy. The most recent one from midweek’s clash at Everton had Joelinton, Callum Wilson, and the returning Miguel Almiron in it. I guess Joelinton is going nowhere unless he drops to one of the three midfield positions.
- That might open the left wing for Anthony Gordon to start there, or maybe even Alexander Isak with Callum Wilson at the top. If the latter is the case, though, forget about a 4-4-2 because it’d still be Howe’s preferred 4-3-3 with Isak on the wing and Wilson as the lone striker.
- With Isak getting only 15 minutes off the pine last Thursday and Jacob Murphy barely 25 getting in and sending Miggy to the bench midway through the second half, I think both will start this game. So let’s say it’s going to be Joelinton on the left wing, Murphy on the right, and Isak leading the team.
CHN Predicted Lineup
DEF Trippier - Lascelles - Botman - Burn
MID Longstaff - Bruno - Willock
WNG Murphy - Joelinton
- Date: Sunday, April 30th
- Kick-off: 14:00 BST / 9:00 EST
- Location: St James’ Park, Newcastle (England)
- Broadcasts: fuboTV (CAN) — Peacock (USA) — N/A (UK)
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Howay the Lads!