Must-win games in October are the domain of teams staring down a long tunnel towrd relegation. Can Saints get a much-needed win against the Magpies, a team against which they have a great home record. Mercurial Mike Allott takes a look ahead at this weekend’s match…
After a respectable performance and draw against Bournemouth last Saturday, thoughts turn to Saturday and the visit of the Toon army, it’s near on the end of October and already we hear “a must win game” “a relegation 6 pointer” coming from the mouths of many Saints fans as we look to finally get our season underway.
Newcastle are currently bottom of the league with only 2 draws to show for their endeavours, 7 defeats in 9 league games, and like Saints scoring 6 and conceding 14 goals, this is hardly the recipe for a free flowing high scoring game that will be first on Match of the Day on Saturday night for the viewing public to enjoy, if ever there was a game that had a nil nil bore draw written all over it this is the one.
Having said that Saints have a good record against Newcastle at home, whether we it be Matt Le Tissier’s sublime finish at the Dell in 1993 or Graziano Pelle scoring a brace in the 4 nil destruction of the Geordies in 2014, we always seem to score against them which is something we must do this Saturday.
Scoring is our problem right now, we haven’t scored a Premier League goal in over a month, and to be honest in both the Liverpool away and Chelsea at home games we didn’t look like scoring, it’s not doom and gloom as we could’ve and probably should’ve scored twice against the blue rinsers last Saturday, alas it wasn’t to be and we had to settle for a nil nil bore draw.
The positives from the Bournemouth game was of course the clean sheet, the defence look solid enough to prevent a free scoring gaining the advantage, so will the manager change it? I don’t he will, barring any injuries I expect him to name the same back four, of Cedric, Hoedt, Stephens and Bertrand.
I’ve seen on social media this week, some Saints fans questioning why Oriol Romeu isn’t being given the chance to play in the middle of the park? I think it’s because, if we wanted a player to hold and sit in front of the back four at the same time then Romeu is your man, if we want a player in the middle who holds but is a tad better going forward then Lemina is the man to do that, alongside the impressive Pierre-Emile Højbjerg who’s form of late is something else and who’s name should be first on the team sheet.
Many have said that Nathan Redmond has been our best player, however I disagree, yes he’s playing far better than last season but with no goals or no assists (although his cross for Gabbi last week should have converted) this season the record speaks for itself, hopefully this is the game for him break one or both of those statistics.
I know Newcastle will try their best to park the bus early doors and attempt to smother Saints, with our scoring record it will be a hard job to break them down, but break them down we must, so I’m going for Saints to start with two upfront, I would dearly love to see Ings and Gabbi start together for this game, I just think given time these will hit it off, no they’re not speed kings but they football brains, which is half the battle when your up against a team like Newcastle.
I expect as always with when the Toon army come to town the away fans will be very vocal in their support of their team, so it’s so important for Saints to get at them from the first whistle, we need the Toon army to turn their attention to their second favourite pastime of calling for the removal of Mike Ashley, the sooner they do that the better it will be for Saints, I know we have our issues with the regime at Saints and some fans would like the clubs hierarchy out of the door as soon as possible, but imagine being a Newcastle fan, how and why they turn up in their droves each week is beyond me.
So with the need for us to attack from the get go, I’m plumping for 4-4-2 set up this week with McCarthy in goal, a back four of Cedric, Hoedt, Stephens and Bertrand, in the middle I’m going for Redmond, PEH, Lemina and Elyounoussi, with Ings and Gabbi up front. Yes I know the team will look nothing like this and Sparky will probably start with Long and Ings up front, Romeu in the middle instead of Lemina but whatever is selected one things for sure, three points is a must, a must for Hughes, a must for the players, but most of all a must for the fans, because we need it.
Enjoy the game.