Date: Sunday, 25th November.
Kick off: 3:00pm
Referee: Martin Atkinson.
UK TV: None.
This game will see our own Silver Supremo squaring up to his Southampton Silver Supremo successor, Nigel Adkins.
Adkins did what Pardew couldn’t quite manage, get the South coast side promoted from League One and then taking them thorugh to the Premiership the following year. And so we face them this afternoon.
To be fair to Pardew though, he was hobbled by a 10 point deduction through administration, though he did have significant financial backing from new owner, Markus Liebherr, and they didn’t even make the League One playoffs, coming seventh. Pardew did make alot of signings who are still mainstays of the current Southampton Premiership side however, with top goalscorer Rickie Lambert, as well as José Fonte, Adam Lallana and Jason Puncheon all being signed by Pardew before he was fired under mysterious circumstances by Saints Chairman, Nicola Cortese.
Adkins’ usually reticent predecessor had this to say on the imbroglio in a rare interview:
“I was quite happy about getting sacked, if I’m honest. I thought I’d done a good job. And it was proving to be very very difficult to work with the owner. It was a difficult period working with Mr Cortese. We just didn’t see eye to eye. There was no nastiness in there, he just didn’t want me as his manager and I think that was obviously coming through to me.”
Blowing his own trumpet with a hearty blast, he then continued:
“I had a great relationship with the fans and our performances were strong bearing in mind we had minus ten points and didn’t really have a starting XI when I arrived. but the most overriding factor for me was the players I left behind – I’m talking Fonte, Lallana, Calvin, Lambert, Puncheon, who I took to the club. They are all in the first team and I am very very proud of that because they are all terrific lads and have all done really, really well. And I think they have improved this year, probably enough for the club to stay in the Premier League.”
On the other side though, his Saints successor had this to say:
“I don’t think I owe him any debt at all. Whatever situation arose, he moved on. I am the manager of Southampton Football Club. We’ve just had back-to-back promotions, we’re doing ever so well in our forward progression. We’re trying to make sure the youngsters come through the system here at Southampton. To have James Ward-Prowse, Ben Reeves and now Luke Shaw into the first-team is very rewarding.
“I am sure Brendan Rodgers at this moment in time is delighted that he has got Steven Gerrard playing for him, you know? I think at the end of the day you talk about players moving on at football clubs so will the managers. It is very difficult to change a full 11 in a short space of time. We’ve got exceptionally good football players here and some have been with us from the start. Some have moved on but everyone has had a part to play in the journey of Southampton Football Club.”
Wooh, get her!
Moving on from from the silver haired squabbling though, let’s take a look at the current form and previous results between the two sides.
|Premiership form this season (most recent first)|
|14th||Newcastle United||L|L|D|W|D|L|D|W|D|D|L|W||14 pts|
As you can see, we may be five places and six points ahead in the table, but scarily, our form over our last six games is the same, with both teams having picked up only five points. Over a whole season, that would give the give the Magpies only 31-32 points, which is two or three points than we had (34) when the club was relegated in 2009! On that bombshell, let move on to previous results at their place.
As we have moved on different circles since 2005, they won’t be highly relevant to today, but let’s have a look anyway!
Southampton’s old ground until 2001, the “Dell,” used to be the worst of the worst bogey grounds for us, so much so that they should have kept it just for playing us! I had to go back as far as 1972 to find a victory there, with 15 games from then until the grounds closure all ending up winless for the Magpies. Of those, four were draws and no less than eleven were losses. Since the Saints’ move to their new ground though, you can see for yourself below that the results have make far more pleasant reading for the Geordie.
|Southampton v Newcastle United at St Marys|
|19/09/04||Premier League||Southampton 1 (Svensson 53), Newcastle United 2 (Prutton (OG) 45, Carr 57)|
|12/05/04||Premier League||Southampton 3 (Beattie 19, Bramble (OG) 39, Griffit 88), Newcastle United 3 (Ameobi 7, Bowyer 35, Ambrose 90)|
|03/01/04||FA Cup||Southampton 0, Newcastle United 3 (Dyer 24, 67, Robert 39)|
|14/12/02||Premier League||Southampton 1 (Marsden 52), Newcastle United 1 (Bellamy 50)|
|11/05/02||Premier League||Southampton 3 (Svensson 18, Beattie 22, Telfer 90), Newcastle United 1 (Shearer 54)|
Squads, suggested line ups tactics etc…
Southampton’s second Silver Supremo plays a decidedly different game to his predecessor at St Mary’s. Whereas Pardew seems to prefer a long ball game this season, soaking up pressure in his own half, trying to dispossess his opponents and try to hit them on the break with big hoofs towards the strikers, Adkins likes to play with a high line, pressing forward into the opponents half as much as possible and playing a crisp, short passing game.
His most common formation seems to be a 4-1-4-1, hence that is what I have gone for in the image above. However, I certainly wouldn’t completely discount a 4-4-2 or 4-1-4-1, which he can bring out for special occaisions. Though 4-1-4-1 can be a defensive formation, it is in the defence where Southampton’s weakness may lie. They are somewhat light in the tackle, preferring to pick up balls through swift interceptions rather than getting stuck in Tiote style. Schneiderlin on his own as the defensive midfield “1″ in this setup is a very hardworking midfielder who can sometimes find himself run ragged in games trying to chase balls down to intercept. Indeed, he must be just about the hardest running player in the Premiership at the moment.
Another weakness seems to be Adkins’ lack of a “plan B” when things go against him, and looking at the table you can see that things have gone against him quite alot now he is playing at the very highest level. When it doesn’t though they can be a fairly potent, free scoring force in attack with Adam Lallana being a bit of a creative force cutting in from the left flank. He should be a good match for Simpson though, with his style of shepherding attacking players out of harms way rather than going in for the big one and leaving players sprawling on the deck.
Finally, we can also expect quite a few through balls for top goalscorer (5 Premiership goals so far) Rickie Lambert on his own up front. Apart from his goals, many of Southampton’s other goals seem to have come from the midfield and defence from the abovementioned Schneiderlin, along with defenders such as José Fonte, Danny Fox, Nathaniel Clyne and several of the midfielders all contributing with a goal or two each.
On the Pardew side it’s actually quite hard to know what to expect as he is certainly under at least some pressure to change his approach after what has been a disappointing start to the season, though a very full injury list may limit his options somewhat too. If he does deviate, he may well start with a 4-3-3 like last time, possibly with Marveaux playing a role after the odd suggestion in the media, but I really wouldn’t be too sure about that. Of course, there is more to it than merely changing shape too. The side need to cut down on their reliance on long balls and keep possession more if they are to flourish. One exception to this has been the creative play of Ben Arfa, but neither he nor Cabaye will be available this time, so I would expect Anita, a defensive player who is also very good on the ball to make a start in the middle of the park this time.
Team news / Squads.
Southampton FC: Paulo Gazzaniga (G), Kelvin Davis (G), Artur Boruc (G), Luke Shaw (D), Maya Yoshida (D), José Fonte (D), Nathaniel Clyne (D), Danny Fox (D), Jos Hooiveld (D), Danny Butterfield (D), Jack Stephens (D), Morgan Schneiderlin (M), Jack Cork (M), Gastón Ramírez (M), Adam Lallana (M), Jason Puncheon (M), Steven Davis (M), James Ward-Prowse (M), Steve De Ridder (M), Rickie Lambert (F), Jay Rodriguez (F), Tadanari Lee (F), Mayuka Guilherme do Prado (F).
Injured: Frazer Richardson (thigh).
Doubtful: Richard Chaplow (knock).
In news which spread shock and horror throughout Tyneside, Hatem Ben Arfa’s hamstring was plucked on Thursday. Being thankful for small mercies though, he should only be out for a game or two. The same is also the case with Shola Ameobi (groin). Gabriel Obertan will be out with his toe, Adam Campbell with his knee, and even Papiss Cisse (thigh) will be a doubtful. Sadly, Yohan Cabaye has joined the “knee three” of Dan Gosling, Ryan Taylor and Haris Vuckic on the long term list as he requites groin surgery, though James Perch (thigh) should be on the eve of making a return to being in contention now,
Though banned from Thursday evening’s Europa clash with the mighty Maritimo, Cheick Tiote will be available for the game. On the other hand, Captain Coloccini, who was of course available on Thursday will have to serve out the last game of his three game Premiership suspension
Newcastle United: Tim Krul (G), Steve Harper (G), Rob Elliot (G), Danny Simpson (D), Davide Santon (D), Steven Taylor (D), Mike Williamson (D), James Tavernier (D), Shane Ferguson (D, M), James Perch (D, M), Vurnon Anita (D, M), Cheick Tiote (M), Gael Bigirimana (M), Jonas Gutierrez (M), Sylvain Marveaux (M), Romain Amalfitano (M), Mehdi Abeid (M), Sammy Ameobi (M, F), Demba Ba (F) Papiss Cisse (F), Nile Ranger (F).
Injured: Hatem Ben Arfa (hanstring), Shola Ameobi (groin), Yohan Cabaye (groin), Gabriel Obertan (toe), Dan Gosling, Ryan Taylor, Haris Vuckic and Adam Campbell (all knee).
Doubtful: Papiss Cisse (thigh), James Perch (thigh).
Suspended: Fabricio Coloccini (last of three).