Southampton v Newcastle United: Resurgent Magpies can worry Saints

A midweek trip south for Newcastle as they face Southampton as St Mary's. Ben Steele fancies the visitors to edge an entertaining tie...

New year - Newcastle

When Eddie Howe took over at Newcastle in early November the team had five points and had not won a game all season. His first few weeks saw him steady the ship a little, with a few creditable draws and the club's first win, before a Covid interrupted December saw the Magpies comfortably beaten by Leicester, Manchester City and Liverpool.

However, since the turn of the year, the league form has improved dramatically. Newcastle are unbeaten in the Premier League in 2022, picking up 17 points from an available 21 and, crucially, propelling themselves to the relative safety of 14th in the table - a full seven points clear of the drop zone.

While the January signings, understandable, got a lot of attention Howe has done well to improve a number of players who were already in the squad when he arrived. The much maligned Joelinton has been a revelation since dropping into midfield, Ryan Fraser has found his shooting boots (scoring two in his last four) and Joe Willock has rediscovered his form from the back end of last season in recent weeks.

Southampton have also been on a good run in recent weeks, Ralph Hassenhuttl has been talked up as a potential next Manchester United manager and, like their manager, a number of Saints players are garnering admiring glances from bigger clubs.

Unfortunately, their good run came to a juddering halt last weekend when they were hammered 4-0 by a Philippe Coutinho inspired Aston Villa. I expect the game to be tight and backing Newcastle in the Draw No Bet market @ 7/4 is provides a decent safety net. However I will be back Newcastle to secure their third consecutive victory @ 3.85 on the Exchange.

Ward-Prowse the main threat for Hassenhuttl

If Newcastle are to keep their winning run going the key part of their gameplan will be shutting down Ralph Hassenhuttl's main man. Chelsea loanee Armando Broja has made quite the name for himself this season with six league goals (nine in all competitions) but star of the show is, undoubtedly, James Ward-Prowse.

The England international has been superb again this term, scoring six times and providing four assists as well as a constant set piece threat. Arguably the best free-kick taker in the league, Ward-Prowse has scored in his last two games against Newcastle and is 7/1 to open the scoring.

However, it is his set piece prowess that makes him a real threat to Eddie Howe's side. The last three goals Newcastle have conceded have all come from set pieces, one was a Jamaal Lascelles own goal but add to that the goals scored by West Ham's Craig Dawson and Brighton's Lewis Dunk and that will interest Ward-Prowse and his teammates.

All three goals seemed to come from defensive confusion and with the likes of Mohammed Salisu and Jan Bednarek providing a target for their captain a James Ward-Prowse anytime assist is well priced at 11/4.

Expect goals on the South Coast

With the likes of Broja, Ward-Prowse and Che Adams will posing a threat for Southampton the travelling Newcastle fans will be hoping their team can keep up their recent impressive scoring run against Southampton. The last 10 games between the two sides have seen the newly minted North East club fail to score in just two, and that goal threat has seen them have a surprising level of success.

Registering five wins and three draws in their last 10 games against the Saints, Newcastle appear to have their opponents number to an extent. With Bruno Guimaraes edging closer to his first Newcastle start and fan favourite Allan Saint-Maximin approaching full fitness, United will fancy their chances of continuing their good run in a high scoring encounter.

The last two games between the two sides have produced a total of nine goals with the match between the sides earlier this season seeing two scored in injury time to close out an end to end tie. I'm expecting more of the same and backing Over 3.5 goals @ 2/1 to land on the South Coast.

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