Dec 13, 2013, 12:01 PM EDT
- Newcastle in PL’s best form (5W-0D-1L)
- Saints have just one point from four matches since electric start
- NUFC’s Cabaye suspended for yellow card accumulation
(Watch live and online at 10am ET Saturday via NBC Sports Live Extra)
The last time these two teams met at St. James Park, both teams were staring at relegation and produced a six-goal bonanza.
The goals may still come and the table place battle is still exciting, but fortunes have changed for both Alan Pardew‘s and Mauricio Pochettino‘s sides. Newcastle’s 26 points have them two points out of Europe while Southampton sits just three points behind.
The Magpies are decidedly hotter. Winners of five of six matches, the stretch boasts victories over Chelsea, Tottenham and Manchester United, the latter two away from St. James Park. Meanwhile, the Saints impressive start has cooled a bit with just one point from their last four fixtures.
Southampton is coming off a 1-1 home draw against Manchester City and is sure to feel its fortunes on the rise as they look to avenge a 4-2 loss up North in February. It was a brilliant day for goals, as Newcastle avenged 1-0 and 2-0 deficits before a penalty and own goal spurred them to all three points.
Newcastle will be wary of Adam Lallana, as Pardew admitted his admiration and fear of the English international he tried to bring to Newcastle. Lallana has drawn a team-high 33 fouls to go with his three goals and two assists.
The Saints haven’t won at Newcastle since 1997, with the Magpies outscoring them 24-8 in the top flight. That doesn’t include a 1-0 FA Cup ouster in 2006.
While the two teams have played just twice since, splitting last year’s points, goals have long been a part of the pairing. Of the last 28 matches between the two sides, there have been only 10 clean sheets.
What They’re Saying
Newcastle manager Alan Pardew on facing the side that axed him: “It does add spice because I felt it was an injustice losing my job there but I won’t be the first manager to say that. I’m looking forward to seeing my old players because I loved working with them. I’m over the moon they have done so well but on a personal level, this is a match I really want to win.”
Southampton’s Jay Rodriguez on visiting St. James Park: “The table reflects how well you’re doing, so fair play to Newcastle, they’re there on credit which is what we’re looking at and what we’re looking forward to and hopefully we can get the three points from up there. It’s an amazing stadium. The atmosphere is great as well, so it’s a great place to go and visit. It’s that experience which may help us and hopefully it does, but it’s one to look forward to.”
Newcastle has been in fine form and Pardew is always riled up to face the team that sacked him after a 4-0 win, which as fate had it preceded his appointment to the NUFC gig after Chris Hughton was stripped of managerial duties. The absence of Cabaye will cause some problems in the engine room and the Saints should capitalize. Look for more goals and a 2-2 draw.
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