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Southamton V Newcastle United The Preview
Sunday, 6th Nov 2022 09:10

The game against the newly minted Newcastle has taken on extra urgency for Saints after they dropped into the bottom three following Saturday's fixtures, in simple terms it means if Saints are to stay out of the relegation zone during the World Cup break they have to win this one.

After starting this article on a bleak note i would clarify the situation by saying that it doesn't matter a hoot if we are in the bottom three, as older Saints supporters know from the 1990's the only table that matters is the final one.

Over the past few weeks we have been missing some of our best players, in the New Year we will have a full squad for the first time and hopefully with the signing of a striker we can quickly pull clear of the danger zone.

But first we have to try and do that by beating an in form Newcastle side, we have done that before against the odds and we can do it again.

The Toon Army will be hoping to cheer their team on to a victory that will cement their position in the Champion 's League places and perhaps push themselves up to third.

For our part we could move up to as high as 13th with a win, although a draw would be enough to get us out of the zone as we would rise above Bournemouth on goal difference.

The good news is that Romeo Lavia and Armel Bella-Kotchap are fit again and back in contention, Lavia has got time under his belt in the B team and should be ready to slot back into the side and although Bella-Kotchap hasn't played in 3 weeks, he should still be fit due to the fact that he will have been able to run and keep his fitness up due to his injury being his shoulder that although has restricted physical contact, wont have affected his movement.

With their hopeful return to the starting line up that will give Saints a more balanced look and will hopefully release James Ward Prowse to have a more attacking influence.

So the big question is whether the manager will go for a back three or a four.

I suspect we may go for 3 at the back, Bella-Kotchap, Caleta-Car & Salisu is a strong line up, that would see two wing backs, perhaps Romain Perraud & Ainsley Maitland-Niles in this role, with a central trio of Lavia, JWP and Joe Aribo, with a striking duo of Che Adams and for my money playing Adam Armstong alongside him in a striking role.

But this won't be an easy game Newcastle have quietly got on with the job of moving up the table and have lost just once this season, this being a 2-1 defeat at Liverpool at the end of August.

But although they have turned into a side that is hard to beat, they aren't yet ready to take on the big boys just yet, of the other 12 games they have won just 6 and of course drawn the other 6, but the worrying trend is that 5 of those victories have come in the last 6 games, their only failure to take a point being a 0-0 draw at Old Trafford.

So Saints task is both a simple and a hard one, the simple part is that they now have some focus and know exactly what they need to do, they have the motivation of the League table to spur them on, but the hard part is that they face a Newcastle side high on confidence and on a roll.

Newcastle under Eddie How are a well drilled side and have put together a good solid run, but they are not a side packed with World Class players, they are slowly building up momentum and will buy again in January to reinforce the side and try to get it, if not in the top four but definitely the top 6 and Europe.

This is a winnable game, next season it will be even less, but they are not where they want to be just yet and will have games they come unstuck.

But all good runs have to come to an end and this is a good time for Saints to come good and in doing so take the pressure off.

As I said at the start it would be good to have the psychological advantage of being out of the bottom three for the World Cup Break, but I am not concerned if we are, but the reality is that if we are going to stay out we have to get out later today, going to Anfield and getting even a point would be a tough ask.

Photo: Action Images

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Ali_Diarea added 09:19 - Nov 6
I really hope you have some inside information about this proven striker that we’re buying in January because it seems that our whole season hinges on it.

Call me a cynic, but I’d be surprised if there was a proven striker out there who would be willing to join a relegation battle and that their club would be willing to sell.

I think we have to look to the squad of players we have for answers to our lack of goals, a hero needs to step forward, and soon.

SaintNick added 09:32 - Nov 6
I do have some inside information for you Ali, you don't have to find a club willing to sell and buy a striker, you can get them on loan.

Not that I think he is right for us, but Chris Wood at Newcastle barely gets a game now, just one start and that back in August, he just gets brought on to run the clock down,

wessexman added 09:46 - Nov 6
The galling thing is we all knew we needed a proven striker last summer. Ralph knew that. Whether he has any say in transfer policy is another matter but surely he must have had his say? Come next transfer window we shall see how serious our new owners are. Also...during this WC break are they going to assess Ralph's position? My humble opinion is he is not the man to guide us away from danger...he has failed to improve us. Yes, we have had injuries but so has every other team.

Block8 added 10:32 - Nov 6
We know we need a striker & have done for a while but we do have plenty of pace. Adam Armstrong is one of the fastest players in the PL & makes some very good moves, albeit from a wide position but we build up so slowly that it is very rarely utilised. He is not our only speedy player either.
The goal against Arsenal is proof that we can score if we move the ball quickly but we play a very risk averse style, similar to Man City & Arsenal, without the final punchline. Until we get that final piece of our puzzle lets drop, clever, balls in behind turn their defence and use our pace to cause problems. We really don't need to push our defence, particularly full backs, far up the pitch all the time and leave ourselves short at the back for the counter. If we move it a bit quicker we can retain our shape better and that is beneficial in terms of keeping teams out isn't it?

NigD added 11:13 - Nov 6
A combination of shooting ourselves in the foot by not securing a proven striker and loss of our most committed players through injury has combined to see us in this lowly position. IMO with Lavia playing in some of the recent 1 goal defeats we would have obtained more points and not have this feeling of desperation.
The second half performance against Arsenal is what is needed today to give us any chance against a well drilled form team.
Am not sure any Manager could have done much more to help this situation, but suspect if we succumb to a couple of defeats then Ralph’s days with us might be numbered?
Whoever is in charge late December will hopefully have the injured players back and fit and ‘pray to God’ we get at least one Striker. The on loan suggestion is more than likely. It is all about getting us away from the bottom 3. I believe we are more than capable of achieving this. Keeping all fingers crossed.

highfield49 added 11:29 - Nov 6
Fair enough Nick, but I am concerned if we're in the bottom three for the World Cup Break. Trying to attract quality new signings when finances are limited is always more difficult but doing so when you're in a relegation spot isn't going to help. We are going to be competing for the illusive goalscorer with at least six other clubs in January and league position could be a vital factor in securing the right player.

StAnt added 11:38 - Nov 6
If anyone seriously thinks we'll zoom up the table simply by signing a good striker in January they are deluding themselves. Haaland would struggle for goals the way this team is coached and set up to play sterile football. We can blame Adams all we want and he does miss some chances but so does Haaland. The difference is the chances Adams get have to be converted because we create so little. Strikers in other clubs can get away with missing because their teams typically create far more chances than we do. A new striker is needed but don't expect him to convert every chance because it wont happen. Our biggest problem right now is not creating enough as we don't play swift, attacking football and get men forward in support.

davidargyll added 11:50 - Nov 6
To me we had a choice in the close season: spend on the defence or (probably a great deal more) on a striker. But we clearly couldn’t afford both. There is no doubt the the best teams are built on not letting in goals rather than the old Kevin Keagan approach - “you score three and we’ll score four”. So yes, a striker in January would be great and fingers crossed; but if people think by not getting one three months ago and in effect saying sod the defence was where we went wrong, you’re on cloud 9…

Ifonly added 11:55 - Nov 6
Totally agree with Block8 and StAnt. We don't play in a way that suits the players we have. We are too risk averse, too slow and the the spaces have closed by the time we finally get the ball to the strikers. It's rare that we get a proper chance when we build from the back. Most chances are when we win the ball high up the pitch and the opposition don't have time to get in shape (as happened with Che's best chance last week).

Although we supposedly had loads of shots last week, we only had 2 proper chances. Expecting Che to always take the 1 or 2 decent chances we get in a match is too much. No one does that.

Boris1977 added 13:28 - Nov 6
Theo Walcott - and it's raining ffs

Boris1977 added 13:54 - Nov 6
The beer in Nellie's nob is decent at least

JoeEgg added 16:11 - Nov 6
Cant wait to read how you guys defend this disgraceful afternoon!

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