Premier League Preview and Prediction: Newcastle United vs Southampton

Newcastle United welcome Southampton to St James’ Park on Saturday evening as the Toon Army look to make amends for their 4-0 thrashing in the reverse fixture at St Mary’s back in September.

Newcastle have slowly slipped down to 10th position in the table since they had dragged themselves up to 5th after they beat QPR in late November in a run of five straight wins.

Since then, a run of nine games with five defeats, two draws and just two wins, as well as the departure of manager Alan Pardew, has left them in a strange period of transition that can’t be allowed to go on for too long otherwise they’ll start looking over their shoulder at the relegation zone.

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The Magpies are currently eight points above 18th placed Hull City, so it isn’t a desperate situation just yet, but they will still be keen to continue picking up points in order to maintain their distance.

Newcastle United’s home record: Played 10 – Won 5 – Drawn 3 – Lost 2

As for Southampton, they will be bubbling with confidence after their magnificent 1-0 victory against Manchester United at Old Trafford last weekend which has lifted them to third in the table.

It extends their unbeaten run in the Premier League to five games despite a tricky run of fixtures which has seen them face Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United consecutively.

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They also continued their good domestic form in midweek with a narrow FA Cup third round replay win over Ipswich Town at Portman Road thanks to a goal from Shane Long.

The Saints are certainly staking a huge claim to show that they’re capable of qualifying for Champions League football this season and if people weren’t taking them seriously before, they most definitely will be now.

Southampton’s away record: Played 10 – Won 5 – Drawn 1 – Lost 4

With the best defence in the division and the fourth highest scoring attack, Southampton will be tipped as favourites for the win, but Newcastle is always a tough place to go, so it makes for a fascinating contest.

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Newcastle will be without numerous players through injury, suspension and African Cup of Nations duty, namely Papiss Demba Cisse and Cheick Tiote while Southampton are without Toby Alderweireld (hamstring), Sadio Mane (calf), Morgan Schneiderlin (thigh) and Maya Yoshida (international duty).

Newcastle United’s last five: L/L/W/D/L

Southampton’s last five: W/W/D/W/W

Key stat: Southampton haven’t lost a Premier League game in which they’ve scored the first goal this season.

Key player: Dušan Tadić – The Serbian has been a revelation this season and Newcastle must stop his creativity if they’re to take anything from the game.

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Score prediction: Newcastle United 1 – 1 Southampton

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Premier League Preview and Prediction: Manchester United vs Southampton

Manchester United welcome the high-flying Southampton to Old Trafford on Sunday afternoon for arguably the game of the weekend in the Premier League.

If you had said in August that this fixture will play a crucial part in who qualifies for Champions League football come the end of the season, many Saints fans would have laughed at you. But that is very much the situation that presents itself in this game.

United haven’t set the world alight with their performances but Louis Van Gaal won’t mind that in the slightest as they are still getting results, which is something they used to do so well under the great Sir Alex Ferguson in years gone by.

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They are now unbeaten in their last ten games in the Premier League and have suffered just one league defeat in the last 15.

Manchester United’s home record: Played 10 – Won 8 – Drawn 1 – Lost 1

Talking of Sir Alex Ferguson, Southampton have a great manager themselves in the shape of Ronald Koeman. The Dutchman has been a revelation for the South Coast side and any fears surrounding the club at the start of the season following the departure of Mauricio Pochettino have well and truly been washed away.

Since a minor blip that saw them go on a four-game losing streak, Southampton have picked things up again by going four without a loss, winning three and drawing one.

Southampton’s away record: Played 9 – Won 4 – Drawn 1 – Lost 4

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This clash promises to be an entertaining affair and is a tough one to call as so much depends on how both sides approach the game.

Southampton boast the best defence in the Premier League this season, and you’d expect them to be a tough nut to crack for Man United. And for all United’s firepower going forward, they still haven’t managed to outscore the Saints this season – both sides have scored 34 goals.

The hosts will be without Ashley Young who has a hamstring injury, while Southampton are without Maya Yoshida (international duty) and the impressive Sadio Mane (calf).

Manchester United’s last five: W/D/W/D/D

Southampton’s last five: L/W/W/D/W

Key stat: Manchester United are undefeated in their last nine Premier League home games (Won 8, Drawn 1).

Key player: Fraser Forster – the Southampton goalkeeper has been one of this season’s outstanding performers and is likely to be called upon to save his team once again.

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Score prediction: Manchester United 2 – 1 Southampton

Southampton suffering second successive winter meltdown

Southampton enjoyed an extremely good start to this Premier League season, as they managed to keep pace with leaders Chelsea and were above title holders Manchester City.

Many have said they could be pushing for European football next season, whether in the Europa League or even Champions League – something which is still a possibility but they need a turnaround. Fast.

They are repeating last season’s winter meltdown as they won just once in nine games over the Christmas period in the 2013/14 season, with a real dip in form starting after November 23.

This year it’s started to go wrong a day later, on November 24. The Saints have not won since then and are facing four more tricky games in a similar nine-game run over Christmas this year.

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After a summer of mass exodus, seeing top players like Adam Lallana, Luke Shaw and Dejan Lovren leave for big money, as well as manager Mauricio Pochettino, it would have been easy to predict a demise on what was a good season last term.

And although they defied all odds under Ronald Koeman to begin with, they haven’t won in their last five games in the Premier League, four of which were defeats. Until as recently as 24 November the highflying Saints were just six points behind the leaders, and still ahead of City.

League table on November 24:

Pos Club P W D L GF GA GD PTS
1 Chelsea 12 10 2 0 30 11 19 32
2 Southampton 12 8 2 2 24 6 18 26
3 Manchester City 12 7 3 2 24 13 11 24
4 Manchester United 12 5 4 3 19 15 4 19

Current table on December 15:

Pos Club P W D L GF GA GD PTS
1 Chelsea 16 12 3 1 36 13 23 39
2 Manchester City 16 11 3 2 33 14 19 36
3 Manchester United 16 9 4 3 29 17 12 31
4 West Ham United 16 8 4 4 27 19 8 28
5 Southampton 16 8 2 6 25 13 12 26

We can see the differences between how they had been performing compared to now in the space of around three weeks.

Southampton did have a tough three game period, playing Manchester City, Arsenal and Manchester United. But their most surprising recent result was this weekends – an away defeat to Burnley.

Southampton’s winless streak:

Aston Villa 1-1 Southampton (24/11/14)

Southampton 0-3 Manchester City (30/11/14)

Arsenal 1-0 Southampton (03/12/14)

Southampton 1-2 Manchester United (08/12/14)

Burnley 1-0 Southampton (13/12/14)

It would appear they have just lost their confidence, and perhaps their emphatic start to the season is catching up with them. The free flowing play and goalscoring has been lacking and defensive mistakes have crept in.

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Koeman will be disappointed with his side’s performances of late and needs a good result this weekend against Everton to get things back on track.

The Saints travel to Bramall Lane to take on Sheffield United in the League Cup this week and the Blades have been in solid form, so it’s a game Koeman’s men could possibly do without.

Will Southampton recover their form and finish in a European place at the end of the season?