Southampton, who are on a seven-match unbeaten run, can consolidate their top four Premier League position with a positive result at Newcastle (17:30 GMT Saturday, live on Sky Sports).
Newcastle come into the match without a permanent head coach and with just one win in their last eight matches in all competitions. They are 10th in the Premier League table, with 27 points from seven wins, six draws and eight defeats.
Caretaker manager John Carver led the team to a 2-0 defeat away to Chelsea last weekend. Newcastle had the better of the first half, with both Moussa Sissoko and Remy Cabella impressing, but they were unable to make the most of their chances. Chelsea went ahead just before the interval and then doubled their lead on the hour mark to take the three points.
Best Match Betting Odds
13/10 Southampton (Coral, BetVictor, Stan James, Paddy Power, Boylesports)
12/5 Draw (BetVictor, Betfred, Ladbrokes, Betfair Sportsbook, Boylesports)
12/5 Newcastle (Coral, BetVictor, SkyBet, Betfred, William Hill, Boylesports)
Newcastle are in the midst of a search for a new head coach following the departure of Alan Pardew to Crystal Palace at the start of the month. Talks have been held with the former Lyon coach Remi Garde and other names have been mentioned but for now the squad remains in the hands of Carver, who is keen to take on the job full time. Indeed the bookies make him second favourite in the next permanent Newcastle manager odds.
The Magpies are in the same position in which they finished last season, with a solid cushion over the relegation places but with little chance of moving up to challenge the top six. They have a decent enough squad, including players with the potential to perform better than they are currently doing, but a lack of ambition seems to be stifling the club.
Carver will be unable to call on the injured Gabriel Obertan (thigh), Mehdi Abeid (toe), Siem de Jong (thigh) and Steven Taylor (achilles) for this game, while Cheikh Tiote and Papiss Demba Cisse are both away on Africa Cup of Nations duty. Jak Alnwick (shoulder), Rolando Aarons (hamstring), Robert Elliot (thigh) and Ryan Taylor (knee) are doubtful.
Southampton travel north having successfully traversed the hectic Christmas period with a seven-match unbeaten run that has extended well into the New Year. They are third in the Premier League table, with 39 points from 12 wins, three draws and six defeats.
Ronald Koeman’s (pictured) side progressed to the fourth round of the FA Cup with a 1-0 victory away to Ipswich on Wednesday. Shane Long gave them an early lead with an excellent finish from inside the area, and they killed off the game thereafter with a professional performance in which they limited the home side to no more than half chances.
Defensive solidity has been one of the keys to Southampton’s season. They did not concede a single shot on target during their 1-0 victory away to Manchester United last weekend and are on course to concede less shots (9.2) and less shots on target (2.8) per match than any other Premier League side in the last five seasons.
Those underlying numbers back up a league-best goals conceded tally of just 15 in 21 matches – four less than any other side. Koeman’s team do, however, still carry a solid offensive threat, having scored more goals than all but three of the division’s teams. In short, they look good value for their top-four position and will be hopeful of staying there.
Koeman will be missing the injured Jay Rodriguez (knee), Morgan Schneiderlin (thigh), Sadio Mane (calf) and Toby Alderweireld (hamstring) for the trip to St James’ Park, while Emmanuel Mayuka and Maya Yoshida are both absent on international duty. Dusan Tadic (knock) and Victor Wanyama (hamstring) are doubtful but expected to take part.
Newcastle v Southampton Betting Tips
Two goals from Graziano Pelle helped Southampton to a 4-0 victory when these sides met at St Mary’s earlier this season. Saints triumphed by the same scoreline on home soil last season, following a 1-1 draw at St James’ Park. Newcastle have recorded nine wins in an 11-match unbeaten run at home to Southampton. Saints’ last victory came back in 1997.
If Carver is to stand any chance of being appointed as Newcastle’s next permanent head coach then he will have to make a strong case over the next few weeks, particularly after starting his reign with a draw and two defeats. The promise of the first-half performance against Chelsea must be converted in points against both Southampton and Hull.
That will not be an easy task on Saturday against a well-organised Southampton side who boast the best defence in the Premier League and some good attacking talent. Pelle and Dusan Tadic have each made a direction contribution (scoring or assisting) to 10 league goals, while others are also chipping in with goals or assists.
Saints are high on confidence and can be expected to solidify their top-four place by taking all three points at St James’s Park.
- Back Southampton to win @ best betting odds of 13/10 with BetVictor, Paddy Power or Coral.
- Southampton have generally looked to keep things tight in the first half of their away matches away so far this season, having conceded just four first-half goals in 10 fixtures. Newcastle have struggled to get off to a quick start at St James’s Park, with just four first-half goals to date. Back the second half to be highest scoring half @ 6/5 with Boylesports.