At the start of the season it was hard to imagine Newcastle and Southampton being separated by goal difference going into March. A year ago Alan Pardew’s men were comfortably in the top-six and well on their way to a fifth placed finish that ended their European exile. This term the Magpies have struggled to hit top gear but an accomplished performance in Kharkiv on Thursday ensured their continental adventure continues. This weekend its back to the bread and butter of the Premier League and the significance of beating the Saints at St James’ Park has risen considerably. Pardew’s new French contingent has improved the outlook on Tyneside but will need to guard against tiredness after their continental exertions on Thursday. But if Moussa Sissoko et al are firing on all cylinders Newcastle should have enough in the tank to beat the Saints.
With just one defeat in their last nine Premier League games the South Coast club have given themselves every chance of avoiding an immediate return to the Championship. A well deserved win over Manchester City a fortnight ago was Mauricio Pochettino’s first since arriving at St Mary’s and he’ll be hoping to continue where Nigel Adkins left off by completing the double over Newcastle. A win would go along way to ensuring their top-flight status next season.
Tim Krul faces five weeks out after picking up an ankle injury meaning Rob Elliot will deputise in goal.Davide Santon (ankle) and Cheick Tiote (illness) are both available.
Gaston Ramirez and Luke Shaw are back in contention for Southampton but Guly do Prado is a doubt for the trip to Tyneside.
What the managers said…
“It’s going to be dear to my heart to win this game, trust me, so I won’t be pulling any punches in my dressing room. But that’s easier said than done. Southampton have definitely picked up and they play a high pressing game which we are going to have to combat. He [new Saints boss Mauricio Pochettino] has had a good start. There are some good players there and I am looking forward to seeing them. They got the result over us the last time and they thoroughly deserved it, so we need to perform a lot better than we did at their place.” Alan Pardew admits Sunday’s game with Southampton carries a special meaning for him (Sky Sports)
Pre-Match Statistic: Southampton’s 2-0 victory over Newcastle in November was their first over the Magpies in any competition in 11 years.
Prediction: Newcastle United 2-0 Southampton