Newcastle United head to St Mary’s Stadium this weekend to take on Southampton in what might already be considered something of a relegation six-pointer despite it still being so early in the season.
The Magpies are currently at the foot of the Premier League table without a win to their name and with just two points on the board. Saints, meanwhile, are barely better off in 16th, though, they have tasted victory once already this season.
Neither side come into this one with a good record in front of goal, but keeping a clean sheet will be vital for both teams. The Newcastle boss, Rafa Benitez, has a wonderful reputation for producing solid and well organised teams and he needs to live up to that this weekend.
[brid autoplay=”true” video=”310054″ player=”12034″ title=”Rafa’s Pub Facts Fake Madrid & Ross Barkley Emulates… David Ngog”]
Selection will be a key factor in this, and Benitez has half of his job done for him in terms of picking his centre-backs. Club captain and talisman, Jamaal Lascelles, is the Magpies’ best, most consistent, reliable and authoritative defender and is a certainty to play from the start if fit.
The matter of Lascelles’ partner in the heart of defence, though, is far less certain. Federico Fernandez and Ciaran Clark have rotated in and out of this role so far this season, whilst summer signing Fabian Schar is also available for selection.
Given Newcastle’s defensive woes, the time may have come for Benitez to shake things up at the back and bring either Schar or Clark back into the starting XI.
What do you think, Newcastle fans – who should partner Lascelles at centre-back against Southampton?