Boosted by the Europa League triumph over Metalist, Newcastle aim to continue the rich vein of form and finally climb to a safe distance from the relegation zone. Southampton hope to build on the impressive victory over reigning champions Manchester City and get at least one point from St James Park.
Newcastle continue to improve
Club’s controversial decision to hand Alan Pardew an eight-year contract soon came back to haunt them as the team had a very disappointing start to the season, but the experienced manager managed to get the Magpies back on track. Club board proved they are 100% behind their manager by handing him a big transfer kitty for the January transfer window and Pardew in turn used the money to seriously reinforce the squad. January signings have helped Newcastle turn this season around, with back to back wins over Aston Villa and Chelsea acting as a huge boost. The Magpies were somewhat unfortunate to lose to Tottenham, but they then eliminated very good Metalist side from Europa League to restore some of the lost confidence. With their showings significantly improved over the last few weeks and a big squad helping Pardew cope with the busy schedule, I can see Newcastle extending their excellent run and making another step towards Premiership survival.
Cheick Tiote and Davide Santon are set to return, but keeper Tim Krul is doubtful with an ankle problem.
First win for Pochettino
It is fair to say the entire England was shocked when Southampton chiefs decided to sack coach Nigel Adkins after he has done so well to keep the Saints above the relegation zone. At the same time, people were wondering whether former Espanyol boss Mauricio Pochettino would be able to win over the players and fans alike, but it appears that this controversial change did not damage team’s chances of staying alive. The Argentine coach quickly got to grips with his new job and Southampton went on to produce several very good performances, picking up 5 points from 4 very difficult fixtures. Even so, Southampton don’t seem to have enough quality and experience to continue this promising run for much longer, and I expect them to face an extremely difficult task at St James Park, given their opponents are starting to look like the team that narrowly missed out on a top 4 finish last term.
Luke Shaw and Gaston Ramirez are both back to the side, but Guly do Prado is doubtful and Jose Fonte is out injured.
As much as Southampton have raised their game over the last few weeks, I am pretty sure the outcome of the match will mostly depend on Newcastle’s performance. The Magpies are again playing with a lot of confidence, and after seeing off Chelsea in their last home fixture, they can be trusted to do the same against the Saints.
Top pick: Home win 2.25 (5/4) @ BetVictor
Alternative pick 1: Over 2.5 goals 1.80 (4/5) @ Ladbrokes
Alternative pick 2: Newcastle to score two or more 1.75 (3/4) @ Sportingbet
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