|Newcastle United 2 v 2 Southampton|
Barclays Premier League
Saturday, 28th August 2021 Kick-off 15:00
Southampton At Newcastle United The Preview
Friday, 27th Aug 2021 10:00
Saints hit 8 goals at Newport County but all that will mean nothing if they lose at St James Park on Saturday, they go into the game with confidence high whilst the Toon Army is revolting after another poor start to the season for the Mags, can Saints win up there for the first time in a while.
Saints have lost the last 4 visits to St James Park and we have to go back to the opening game of 2015/16 for our last point there when a 79th minute Shane Long goal earned us a 2-2 draw, the pervious season was the last time that we took all 3 points when two goals from loanee Eljera Elia gave us a 2-1 win.
Before that it was season 96/97 for our previous last win when Matt Le Tissier scored the only goal of the game, so that makes it only two wins plus 3 draws in our last 16 outings.
Last season we really should have won when they firstly went down to 10 men and then 9 for the final portion of the game after running out of substitutes, but we just couldn't break down the staunch rear guard action after handing them all three goals and went down by the odd goal in 5.
But this season should hopefully be different, Ralph Hasenhuttl has virtually a full squad to call on and more importantly a bench full of both experience and a hunger to succeed.
Last season our bench had 6 virtually untried youngsters on it and only one of them, Nathan Tella has broken through. Compare that to November when we beat Newcastle comprehensively at St Mary's to go top of the Premier League.
So the time for excuses is over, we have revamped the squad, we are no longer reliant on putting 17 year old's on the bench to fill the space and we have no real injury issues, at least ones we can't deal with.
The time is here for our squad and manager to show that they are up to the job in keeping us in the mid table of the Premier league and then building on that to push us up towards the top 10.
To do that we need to be going to places like Newcastle and winning or at least not losing year in year out, this is an opportunity to put an early distance between us and a team that will be our rivals for a place in the Premier League.
We go there with the confidence that a draw against Manchester united and routing Newport County can give us whereas with Steve Bruce whinging in the press about the frailties of his squad, morale is low on Tyneside both in the dressing room and the stands.
Defeats to West Ham and Aston Villa in the opening two games were not a disgrace, but it leaves them needing to beat the lower sides if they are to avoid yet another relegation battle, if you want to finish comfortably mid table then these are two sides you need to be picking up points against.
So the job for Saints is to put the right team out there to compete.
The first question is again about the goalkeeper, Alex McCarthy didn't distinguish himself either at Everton or Manchester United and although it wasn't a direct error for any of the 4 goals conceded in those games, at least 3 of them he should have done better on.
Fraser Forster played against Newport County, but didn't have a shot on target to save, he could do nothing to further his cause to be back in the team, I could probably have played in goal and we would still have won, I might even have kept a clean sheet such was our dominance.
So that is the first question for Ralph.
The second is the defence, does he keep with the back 4 of the first half against United and if so he needs to bring back Jan Bednarek but who for, or does he opt to play a central three with wing backs and again that offers options and therefore problems of who to play.
There is also the question of whether new signing Lyanco is ready to slot straight into the starting line up, if Ralph opts for a back three I would not be surprised if he came in,
Personally if he goes with a back 4 I would play Kyle Walker Peter at right back. Bednarek & Salisu with Perraud at left back, square pegs in square holes.
If he opts for the latter and plays Stephens, Bednarek & Salisu then he has a few things to consider.
Who plays right wing back, here he is blessed with either KWP or Livramento and it is probably the latter who he will go with, on the left side although he could opt to play KWP, again square pegs in square holes and for me Perraud has to play.
I think though we will go for a back four and if we go with my preferred four than in midfield Livramento has to play on the right, JWP & Romeu in the middle and then the question is who plays left ?
There are several options here, he could go for Moi Elyounoussi, Moussa Djenepo, Nathan Redmond or even Theo Walcott, my money would be on Djenepo who was decent against both Everton & United.
Up front it is Che Adams and Adam Armstrong who are forming a good complimentary partnership and there contrasting styles work well together.
But attacking wide we are going to have some good options off the bench and I would be surprised if Armando Broja is not on the bench.
Last season was one of two halves, the first we showed what we can achieve and pushed ourselves into the fringes of the top 6, the second saw us fall away for reasons beyond our control , but now we are back to an even playing field.
Saints can now move forward with some confidence, they have a better & more importantly bigger squad than last season with only Danny Ings likely to be a big loss and questions about how well he will be replaced still to be answered .
But this is one of those games that will define the season, win it and we have made a solid start, a draw would not be a disaster, but defeat would be a big knock to the confidence.
Last season we should have won at St James Park, this season we have perhaps our best chance in many seasons to do so, we have to take it.
Photo: Action Images
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When Saturday Comes #16 by wessex_exile
When Saturday Comes, and this time instead of an international break we played yesterday evening, and now have the luxury of sitting back and seeing what’s going to happen around us in the league table. A gritty display last night saw the U’s fight back from a being a goal down, with Freddy netting his 8th of the season, helped in no small measure by an inch-perfect through ball from Alan Judge. Whisper it, but with (at least) 30 competitive matches to go to the end of the season, Freddy’s average of 0.4 goals per game would actually see him reach that mythical ’20 goals per season’ figure – not bad for an Ipswich reject 😊.
When Saturday Comes #15 by wessex_exile
When Saturday Comes, and finally the U’s return to the league programme after what seems an age as a result of our international break. The Forest Green match has been rearranged for 21st December, the last Tuesday before Xmas, and it will no doubt be a chilly night on top of the hill overlooking Nailsworth. Originally billed as a 7pm kick-off, it seems to have been pushed back to 7.45pm now – better make sure before I set off on the short drive for that one. Talking of short drives, bravo to our U18s winning 2-0 at Swindon in the FA Youth Cup midweek, to set up a mouth-watering home tie against Arsenal in the 3rd Round.
When Saturday Comes #14 by wessex_exile
This week, When Saturday Comes the U’s find themselves on an international break and a weekend off for the WAGs to get in some Christmas shopping. Just as well too, given the U’s have inconsiderately eased past AFC Sudbury to deny them the customary FA Cup Second Round break in December to do likewise. We wait to hear who our opponent will be at the JobServe – it’ll be either top of League One Wigan Athletic or Cameron Coxe’s National League parent club Solihull Moors, who replay at Damson Park on Tuesday evening. Incidentally, Solihull Moors may be part of history being made today, with their match at Meadow Lane already expected to easily top 10,000, and may break the record attendance for that league, which currently stands at 11,083 when Bristol Rovers faced Alfreton Town in 2015.
When Saturday Comes #13 by wessex_exile
When Saturday Comes…will we still be in the FA Cup? I heard somewhere during the week that the U’s have been eliminated from the FA Cup by non-league opposition more times than any other league club! Remarkable really when you consider that many non-U’s associate Colchester United with the greatest FA Cup giant-killing of all time. Following tonight, we travel to Portman Road on Tuesday night to see if we can stay in the Pizza Slice Trophy. Regardless that it is a much-maligned competition these days, surely that’s motivation enough for our tractor boy contingent?
When Saturday Comes #12 by wessex_exile
A relegation six-pointer already, seriously! Grim news so early in a season which had such promise, but that may well turn out to be the reality when the dust settles in May. On the eve of All-Hallows Eve, I’m wondering whether the U’s will have served up Trick or Treat by 5pm this afternoon. Plenty has been written over the last week by supporters, the press, even the Chairman about the protests during and after the Sutton United rocky horror football show, and whilst everyone has the right to voice their opinion on the club’s fortunes on and off the pitch, that doesn’t give anyone (even the Chairman) the right to be abusive – it’s not big, it’s not clever, and if anything it undermines the validity of that opinion.
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