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Southampton 0 v 1 Newcastle United
Barclays Premier League
Saturday, 7th March 2020 Kick-off 15:00
Saints V Newcastle United The Preview
Friday, 6th Mar 2020 17:25

Saints try to end a five game win less run against the Geordies, can they bounce back after the defensive debacle up in the East End last week, we look at the chances here.

I am starting to sound like a broken record these days but no one can say that I haven't been accurate in my predictions in stating that every week we will make defensive errors and in some games we will get away with it and others we won't.

That means that although we should pull clear of relegation long before the end of the season that come May we will be left ruing those lapses in concentration and individual errors.

Newcastle used to be a lucky team for us, but the last five games have seen three defeats and two draws, including our defeat on Tyneside in December when it was yet another game we dominated and yet another late goal and with yet another defensive error cost us dearly.

Ironically in the six games prior to this run, we ourselves had gone six games without losing to the Toon and had lost only one of the 8 played between our return to the Premier League and the start of our win less run.

So it is time to start redressing the balance again, but guess what it doesn't matter whow well we play, it will come down to whether we get away with a defensive error or two as to if we come out of this game with all three points.

Ralph Hasenhuttl has a decision or two to make, first up is whether to restore Angus Gunn in goal, Alex McCarthy has looked indecisive in the last month or so culminating in that missed cross last week, so is it time for change or does he get one more chance.

At right back surely we will play either Walker-Peters or Valery, we need James Ward Prowse in midfield where he can best create, we signed KWP from Spurs on loan to take a look at him, he looked reasonable in his one game so far, but we won't find out on the bench, he needs to play in this one.

In the centre despite their horror show last week there is nothing better at the club than Bednarek and Stephens, although I just have that feeling that given Newcastle's height advantage Vestergaard might just slot in as he did against Burnley, he wasn't as bad as some would have you say, but then again he didn't really convince either, if he comes in it should be Stephens who steps down this time not Bednarek.

In midfield we are struggling although I just have that sneaking decision that both Armstrong and Smallbone might be making an appearance, if not then I think although I would prefer JWP in the middle with PEH, we need to move him to the right and play Romeu alongside Hojbjerg and Djenepo on the left.

Up front Danny Ings is fit and raring to go, so do you play Shane Long, Michael Obafemi or Che Adams alongside him ? I would say Shane Long.

Sofiane Boufal should be on the bench, he hasn't produced much this season, but he is better coming off the bench when he can run at tired legs than when he starts.

This is a game we can win, this is a game we need the crowd behind us, this is a report I have written many times before this season, but the song remains the same, defensive errors cost us points hence we need the win.

Win this game and we are one win off safety and 5 points ahead of the Geordies and possibly somewhere between 7 & 10 ahead of the relegation zone and that is a big gap we need to maintain.

Newcastle don't travel well having won only 3 on the road, drawn 2 and lost 9, but they have the ability to catch us on the break and let's face it they are far from alone in that respect, we need another big game to haul us to the verge of the finishing line long before the end of the season, but even if we lose remember we still have 9 games left to get 6 points, it is a blow but far from the end of the world.

So a lot to ponder for Ralph, we all just need to kick in the same direction and create an atmosphere that we can win in.

Photo: Action Images

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LordDZLucan added 19:46 - Mar 6
Stephens stepping down in favour of Bednarek? You're having a laugh. Bednarek makes more mistakes than anyone, doesn't get any distance on his headers and never seems to know when he's got time. Jack Stephens bailed him out time and again against Villa.

saintmark1976 added 19:48 - Mar 6
Yes Nick,you do sound like a broken record and to be frank have done so for the whole season in your obsessional and continual reference to our defence. Why not consider another reason as to why we haven't won enough games in that we have only scored 35 goals in 28 Premiership matches? Added to which we have only once scored more than two goals in any game.

In regard to tomorrow. If the players turn in a performance such as they did last Saturday then there is every chance we will lose no matter what team Ralph selects. In this regard who knows what weird and wonderful choices he will make? J W P at right back again, Vestergard in for Bednarek, Ings playing less than half a game, Adams given just another ten minutes only, Berty dropped or playing on the opposite wing?

SaintPaulVW added 07:45 - Mar 7
But every defence will make mistakes if they have little to no midfield cover.

Does every attack need 28 chances to make 2 goals?

theralpholution added 09:30 - Mar 7
There are deficiencies at both ends of the team and these will inevitably contribute to defeats but to explain defeats as the result of defensive mistakes and point the finger of blame at the centre halves is too easy. For the most part we play good attacking football and have done since we swapped to four at the back. This has allowed us to have an extra midfielder and to dominate the midfield more than when we played five at the back. We create chances but only Ings shows the ability to finish chances efficiently. Long and Redmond, despite their contributions to the team, consistently miss opportunities to score which make our conversion rate terrible and this consequently puts the pressure on ings to score goals. Too often we do not put games out of the reach of opponents.
The defensive partnership has improved, they are two young centre halves that deserve time to build an understanding but defence is not just about the centre halves, it is about the whole team. The failure of players to help Ings by scoring is similar to the failure of the team to help the centre halves to defend. Yes, they will make mistakes but this happens in every team and every team will either get away with these or not on any given weekend. The critical factor for me is that the formation shift has meant that we spend more time attacking than defending but this sometimes means we are left exposed at the back. This means our ability to convert chances is vital to winning games.
That said, we are improving. Djenepo for Redmond and Adams for Long next season could well give us the additional goals needed and the defence should also continue to improve once we have a settled back four.

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