|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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Blogs 31 bloggers
When Saturday Comes #6 by wessex_exile
After over a month of absence, the U’s finally make a welcome return to the JobServe for a home league fixture. Sutton seem to have quickly got over their Covid-19/ injury crisis/ international call-up woes, fielding a team the following Tuesday that was strong enough to push Cardiff City hard in a narrow 3-2 defeat to the Championship side. But enough of that, I haven’t seen the outcome of the EFL investigation, but I don’t doubt the decision has either already been or will be rubber-stamped. Gamesmanship – maybe, but I hope at least the EFL are now a bit more alert to the fact that some might think they can treat them like chumps when it suits their purpose? Still – it’s great to be back home isn’t it!
When Saturday Comes #5 by wessex_exile
“Well, I can tell u my son was stood nearer the back of the Holker Street end and although he couldn't see who was responsible, he was disgusted and was very clear in telling me that the 'N' word was used by someone stood directly behind the goal nearer the front. I'm sick of hearing this, no one but the player being abused heard anything so maybe he was mistaken crap. This shite still exists despite everything that the authorities try to do because unfortunately there are still racists in every, city, town, village and hamlet in this country. [SwearFilter] scum of the earth.”
When Saturday Comes #4 by wessex_exile
I start with an apology for the no-show last weekend, but for all the right reasons. My nephew and his fiancé finally managed to tie the knot on Friday, at the fifth time of asking (previous four attempts falling foul of covid restrictions unfortunately). It was a fantastic afternoon and evening over in Essex, but meant it just wasn’t possible to get a blog produced. A significant proportion of the wedding party were U’s supporters, including the groom, but any thought of live-streaming the Rochdale game at the evening celebration might have resulted in the fastest divorce on record, so we contented ourselves with surreptitious glances at the BBC Sports updates – and what an own goal it was! Different circumstances, but I was (painfully) reminded of Aidan and Kevin’s howler at Blackburn – golden rule, never, ever pass the ball directly towards your own goal.
When Saturday Comes #3 by wessex_exile
The goalless U’s have eventually got that monkey off their backs, with the Frank and Freddie show combining to win a somewhat dubious penalty, in the 5th minute of injury time, allowing Freddie to get his new goal account at the U’s off and running (all in all he now has 37 goals, five of them penalties). It was tight though, and on another day the goalkeeper would have got a hand to it, but they all count, whether it’s a 25 yard peach or one off the arse. Everyone has rightly said that without doubt Mansfield were the best side we’ve faced so far – I’ll go so far as to say they’ll probably be one of the best sides we face all season. Though it wasn’t comfortable viewing at the time, some of their passing and movement, particularly on the break, was breath-taking at times. But enough of the love-in, however good they were, the U’s stood up to them, kept them out for the most part, and eventually got the point we deserved.
When Saturday Comes #2 by wessex_exile
Two games into the season, and although still goalless, it has been a reasonably promising start for the U’s. A tough opening day fixture away at Carlisle, and in front of a bumper crowd which delayed kick-off by 15 minutes, the U’s were largely resolute in defence, whilst still creating enough chances to have won the game if our finishing had been sharper. To be fair though, were it not for prodigal son Shamal George making his return to Brunton Park, we could just have easily lost – a performance which rightly earned him the Man of the Match award. Midweek at Championship club Birmingham City in the Carabao Cup was an even more spirited performance, and one which really should have seen the U’s victorious, but if you don’t take your chances you will get punished, and we did in the 75th minute. Much has been said about the opposition being a second (third?) string side, and with players taking the field with squad numbers in the 50s, that can’t be disputed. But, when you’re facing a team that actually has squad numbers in the 50s, you realise just how big a club our opposition was.
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