Two big changes Rafa Benitez must make to his Newcastle XI vs Southampton

Newcastle United know that they can take a step closer to Premier League survival when they host fellow strugglers Southampton in a potentially season-defining clash at St James’ Park on Saturday, on the back of a 2-0 defeat against Liverpool at Anfield last weekend.

Considering the form the Reds and their formidable front three were in the match was something of a free hit for the Magpies, with results elsewhere ensuring they stayed two points clear of the drop zone even though they were beaten.

The clash against Saints, which will be refereed by Andre Marriner, is the opposite of a free hit though, with their opponents lying one place and one point below them in the top flight standings.

With 18th-placed Crystal Palace facing Chelsea and 19th-placed Stoke City hosting Manchester City at the Britannia Stadium, Rafa Benitez’s men look to have the chance to give themselves some much-needed breathing space between them and the bottom three in the bid to stay up – as long as they can beat Mauricio Pellegrino’s side.

The south coast outfit have only won two of their 13 Premier League matches on the road this term, and the hosts will certainly take some solace in that fact considering they have the third worst record on their own patch during the current campaign – only Southampton’s and bottom club West Bromwich Albion’s are worse.

Benitez will be considering making some changes to the XI that lost at Anfield as the Spaniard’s 5-4-1 experiment failed to pay off, and he will regret it if he fails to make a couple of important alterations to his team.

Here are two big changes the 57-year-old must make to his Newcastle side when they host Southampton…