Can Southampton continue their promising start to the season by taking three points from the visit of Newcastle to St Mary’s on Friday (8pm, live on Sky Sports)?
Saints finished 11th last season but had a top-six record through the second half of the campaign and have carried that form into the new season. Thirteen points from four wins, one draw and two defeats have them up in fifth in the still nascent Premier League table.
The latest of those victories came in a 4-3 win away to Aston Villa last weekend. Three goals from set pieces, the first a Jannik Vestergaard header, and the second and third a pair of direct free-kick strikes from birthday boy James Ward-Prowse, had Southampton three up at the interval. Danny Ings then added a fourth before the hour mark.
Saints pretty much stopped attacking at that point. Villa got one back quickly but despite a barrage of shots it took them until an injury time penalty to get another. A further late strike caused a flutter of panic in the Southampton ranks but they held out to take a deserved three points.
Ralph Hasenhuttl has done very good work since taking charge, in December 2018, of a side then placed 18th in the table. Progress has been steady but he has clearly now crafted a very solid side capable of suppressing opposition shot volume with an aggressive high press whilst creating just about enough themselves to get points on the board.
After losing their opening two matches of the season, Saints are now unbeaten in five and are starting to emerge as a potential European contender, although it is worth noting that their underlying numbers haven’t been quite as impressive as top-line results. They are also quite reliant on the goals of Danny Ings, scorer of two goals every three matches over the last season and a bit. He could miss Friday’s match with a knee injury picked up against Villa.
Opponents Newcastle also have a solid points haul to their credit, having taken 11 from three wins, two draws and two defeats. Last weekend’s home win over Everton lifted them to 11th in the table.
Newcastle created the one clear-cut chance of the first half and then went ahead early into the second as Callum Wilson converted from the penalty spot after being clumsily upended inside the area. Shots were pretty evenly shared thereafter, until Wilson added a second from a deflected Ryan Fraser cross. Everton got one back in injury time but the three points was already Newcastle’s.
Steve Bruce’s side defied league-worst metrics to finish in a comfortable 13th last season, 10 points clear of the drop zone. The way they have started the new campaign suggests they might just be able to pull it off again this time around. Their metrics have been similarly bad, but they’ve still managed to accumulate good points from the early running.
Some of that is down to things that are unlikely to be repeatable. Newcastle have been awarded three penalties, all converted, in seven matches, a rate that will probably not persist. They have also scored the first goal of the match on four occasions, far above their rate of once every two and a half fixtures or so last season. It is difficult to see a team who give up over twice as many shots as they take continuing to win so many points.
Could Friday be the point at which things start to turn for the worse for Newcastle? Maybe not. They did, after all, defeat Southampton both home and away last season. The second of those victories came at St Mary’s during the second half of the campaign, when Saints were at their strongest.
Set pieces aside, Southampton are not the most potent attacking force, and Newcastle may fancy their chances of grabbing a goal and then defending their lead from there. They are unfavoured enough with the predominant online sports betting sites to allow a degree of hedging on the ‘draw no bet’ market and on that basis represent a solid pick to come away with all three points. So this preview’s Southampton vs Newcastle betting tips conclusion is to have a punt on this eventuality:
- Back Newcastle to win on the ‘draw no bet’ market @ 11/5 with Betfred.