Saints V Newcastle United Dan's Preview
Friday, 8th Apr 2016 13:00
A trip to Southampton for Newcastle United hasn’t been something looked forward to for 40 years, one league win and a cup win in four decades for the Toon Army will hopefully be a record that won’t be improved.
With new manager Steve McClaren appointed at the beginning of the season, Newcastle would’ve hoped that they wouldn’t be a repeat of last season, where they survived relegation on the final day, but with seven games left for the Tyneside club it’s looking as if this season will be worse.
With the appointment of Rafa Benitez, following the sacking of McClaren in March, it would seem likely that hoped filled the fans of the famous club but the Spaniard has received a point out of a possible nine whilst in charge.
I personally think that the appointment of Benitez will be fantastic for the club if they stay up but the ex- Liverpool, Chelsea and Real Madrid boss has never been in a relegation battle, thus another manager may have suited the situation better. Yes, Benitez has made the team look more organized but they conceded three times against relegation rival, Norwich in their last match.
The Saints visited St. James’ Park on the opening weekend of the campaign. Goals from Graziano Pelle, Georginio Wijnaldum, Pappi Cisse and a late equaliser from Shane Long meant the points were shared as the result was 2-2. But two great chances for Sadio Mané were missed in the final moments, meaning that three points were deserved.
When Newcastle come to St. Mary’s on Saturday I think it will be tense for both teams who both have big ambitions. We want to qualify for the Europa League and they’re fighting relegation.
Neither team have started recent games very well so the opening 15 minutes may go either way. Hopefully Saints will be more dominant in the first quarter of the match and get a goal in that period. This will give confidence to push on for more. Plus, with the returns of Charlie Austin, Jay Rodriguez and hopefully Shane Long will be fit, we’ll have real firepower in the starting line-up and on the bench.
I’m predicting a 3-0 win for the Saints. We’re due a clean-sheet and to be honest I haven’t seen a player in Newcastle’s team that seems that bothered
about the club’s situation. Plus, with both first and second choice goalkeepers out with serious injuries the new keeper Newcastle played could’ve saved at least one of the goals. Finally, Rafa apparently has a release-clause on his contract so he isn’t stuck with the club if they go down and if they are relegated only the players are to blame.
With a possible five attackers in our squad I’d be surprised if Newcastle got a clean sheet. The only Newcastle player I can see scoring is Mitrovic who scored a penalty in their last match and in the Tyne-Wear derby before that. But he started on the bench last week so I don’t know whether he’ll start or not.
My Saints Line-Up: 4-3-3
Forster, Cedric, van Dijk, Fonte, Bertrand, Wanyama,
Ward- Prowse, Rodriguez, Mane, Pelle, Long
Targett didn’t do as much as I would’ve liked him to have done on Sunday when we played with five defenders, I’m a fan of him though but with the lack of attack Newcastle provide he won’t be needed. Ward-Prowse needs game time, another player I’m a fan of.
I didn’t expect Jay Rod to be in the squad last weekend but he was on the bench. He must be fit enough to start playing and we’ve missed his great ability and he bagged a hat-trick for the under-21s before the International break so he has scored since returning from injury.
Three attackers will hopefully guarantee goals and this is a must win game for us because, the way the table looks, even if we get a point on Saturday seventh will be the highest place we’ll finish and winning five consecutive games is unlikely with our inconsistent form.
If we get a win though and other results go our way (especially West Ham vs Arsenal) we could be only one point off of the top six with two winnable fixtures up next.
Photo: Action Images
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Letters from Wiltshire #45 by wessex_exile
Tonight, Colchester United face Southend United in what may not necessarily be the most important game of our respective histories (though it’s certainly very close), but is almost certainly the most important Essex derby ever. However this season pans out, by the end of it there’ll either be only one team in Essex, or worst case scenario, none at all. If the U’s win, then Southend will be 9pts behind with just three games to go, and a minimum of a -12 goal difference to overturn if they want to overtake us. Certainly mathematically possible, but that would rely on a remarkable turnaround in their form, form that they’ve shown precious little sign of achieving so far this season. The stalking horse is Grimsby, with their game in hand, who have rather belatedly shown an improvement in form, so their match against automatic promotion chasing Morecambe tonight is equally important, particularly if we want to avoid the unthinkable, with both Essex clubs dropping out of the league.
Letters from Wiltshire #44 by wessex_exile
So here we are, as the nation mourns the passing of His Royal Highness, Duke of Edinburgh, the U’s face the first of two season-defining moments, with our late kick-off match at home to Walsall. Before then, no doubt many will have been focused on events elsewhere, not least the early kick-offs for Grimsby (at home to promotion-chasing Bolton Wanderers), and particularly Essex rivals Southend United, who faced a tricky visit to Exeter City – still very much in the hunt for at least a play-off spot. As I finalise this blog, I know that Grimsby have beaten Bolton 2-1, and Southend earned a credible 0-0 draw in the West Country. More to the point, the U’s will know this too. Whilst I can’t help but feel that will ought to be to our advantage, it surely must also put additional pressure on a squad whose confidence is paper-thin. We must hope that Hayden Mullins, assisted by Paul Tisdale, get their heads right, and send the lads out this evening fired up with self-belief.
Letters from Wiltshire #43 by wessex_exile
Well, that has been a lively week for Colchester United in the press, and not least for Robbie Cowling, with not one, or two, but kind of three club announcements in rapid succession to try and put the record straight. First, we had Tribunalgate, which certainly looked very poor according to the initial press reports, but which on closer inspection when some of the ‘fact gaps’ were filled in wasn’t anywhere near the story that some would have us believe. Then of course we had the ‘leak’ that the U’s were about to go into administration, despite all the reassurances we’d been given in previous statements from Robbie. Not so said Robbie again, and particularly angry at what he believed to be the source of the story. Hence statement #3, repeating his assurances, but this time after passing through the lawyer filter to remove his thoughts on the source. To paraphrase Robbie’s conclusion to that statement, let’s hope we can all have a day off from this sort of media shenanigans and enjoy our game at Oldham tonight!
Letters from Wiltshire #42 by wessex_exile
Well, these sure are strange times at Colchester United, particularly for a club (nor a Chairman) not usually associated with the ‘managerial revolving door’ approach. With results not matching expectations or even minimum requirements, and a brief spell after being appointed Interim Head Coach, Wayne Brown has been released to return to the Jammers, for whenever their pandemic-interrupted football restarts. In comes not one, or two, but three new ‘appointments’. Hayden Mullins steps up as Head Coach to the end of the season, Joe Dunne apparently comes back to the U’s in a sort of unofficial coaching/ team-spirit sort of role, and exceptionally experienced lower-league former Exeter City manager Paul Tisdale arrives to provide Hayden with advice and support – crikey!
Letters from Wiltshire #41 by wessex_exile
This afternoon the U’s take on Bradford City in a bid to gather sufficient points to stay clear of the bottom two. It’ll be a tough gig though, even if (as I suspect) Bradford City have left it a bit too late to challenge the play-off spots. They were on a decent run of form, that is until defeats at Newport, Carlisle, Scunthorpe and a goalless draw at home to Oldham put paid to any lingering promotion hopes. For us, it’s simple, to stay out of the bottom two, for all intents and purposes we only need to gain half (or more) of the points that Grimsby or Southend do. Sounds easy, just wish I felt more confident we will…
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