Saints aiming to spoil Pardew’s stadium return
Newcastle travel the length of the country to Southampton, with Alan Pardew allowed back into the stadium
The former Southampton boss will have to settle for a seat in the director’s box, so it should at least be a relief to referee Andre Marriner who will have no reason to be accused of mistaken identity for the second week running. He accidentally sent off Kieran Gibbs, rather than Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain against Chelsea.
Southampton are 4/6 odds on favourites for the match with Coral, while Newcastle are 9/2.
Rob Elliot is expected to deputise in goal for Tim Krul who joins Loic Remy on the treatment table for the away side, though Davide Santon has returned to full fitness.
All of a sudden, the Saints have a worrying list of personnel concerns. Top scorer Jay Rodriguez, Steven Davis, Victor Wanyama, and Morgan Schneiderlin are all doubtful, while Nathaniel Clyne and keeper Kelvin Davis will definitely be absent. Defender Maya Yoshida is ruled out for the rest of the season.
Southampton trail their guests in the Premier League by one point and one position, and are currently in ninth place on a tally of 45.
Europa League qualification is the best both teams can hope for this season, and Newcastle will already have an idea of the players they can attract in the summer, if they can offer European football.
After succumbing 3-0 to Everton last time out, a drastic improvement is needed while Southampton started promisingly against Tottenham, despite losing 3-2.
Saints centre-half Jose Fonte, though, is out to prove a point, and is 8/1 to score at anytime. He told the club’s website, that determination to finish above Newcastle will provide motivation to take victory.
“This is a massive game because we know if we win we go above them and it’s going to be a very good game I think,” said the Portuguese defender.
“We’ll give everything to get the three points because coming off the disappointment of last Sunday where we thought we could have easily won the game, we need to bounce back and St Mary’s is the only place to do that.”
With Newcastle struggling for goals, boss Pardew is confident that January loan signing Luuk de Jong has the quality to come good.
“Luuk is coming from a situation where it’s not gone well for him in Germany, and he’s finding his feet and finding his confidence,” said Pardew.
“I’m trying to introduce him, trying to give him games where I think he can regain his confidence.
“I think he’s had some good displays for us, but I think there’s more to come and I hope between now and the end of the year that he shows that to our fans because we know, at this club, that we need strikers.
“I’m hoping that he can tick a box for us between now and the end of the season.”
De Jong is 8/1 to score first with Coral. Southampton’s best hope is Rickie Lambert at 9/2.