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All good things must come to an end at some point, but neither Ralph Hasenhuttl nor the Southampton faithful could have predicted a performance as dire as the one they witnessed at Villa Park, as a former Saints talisman ran his old employers ragged.
Danny Ings ended the day with a goal and two assists to his name to show his former club what they are missing, with Philippe Coutinho, Ollie Watkins and Douglas Luiz also on the scoresheet for Steven Gerrard‘s men to bring Southampton crashing back down to earth.
The Saints had managed to claim five wins from six before the journey to Villa Park – as well as holding Manchester United and Manchester City to 1-1 draws – so the manner of their capitulation against the Lions was quite the shock to the system.
However, the Saints’ strong run of form has allowed them to cement themselves in the top half of the rankings in ninth place on 35 points – although four sides are only two points behind Hasenhuttl’s men – and they will certainly welcome the return of home comforts this week.
Indeed, Southampton have lost just one Premier League game at St Mary’s this season – only Liverpool can boast a better record in that regard – and the Saints have won each of their last four on familiar territory before the visit of a resurgent Newcastle.
It would have been some story to see Newcastle ply their trade in the second tier of English football after becoming one of the richest clubs in the world, but Eddie Howe’s January acquisitions are finally bearing fruit for the in-form Magpies.
However, Howe relied on one of his old favourites to inspire his side to victory against Brighton, as ex-Bournemouth protege Ryan Fraser was in the right place at the right time to smash home the opener before his free kick found the head of Fabian Schar for Newcastle’s second.
Southampton centre-back Mohammed Salisu was absent from the Aston Villa defeat with a tight hamstring and will need to be assessed ahead of this one, but fellow defender Lyanco is definitely out.
Shane Long and Nathan Tella also remain doubts at the time of writing, while Fraser Forster is in no danger of losing his place in goal as Alex McCarthy recovers from his thigh injury.
Hasenhuttl is unlikely to consider many changes despite the Villa humbling, although Kyle Walker-Peters may very well return at left-back over Romain Perraud, and Mohamed Elyounoussi‘s place could come under threat from Nathan Redmond and Moussa Djenepo.
As for Newcastle, Isaac Hayden, Jamal Lewis, Kieran Trippier and Callum Wilson remain out for the long-term alongside Federico Fernandez, but Matt Ritchie may be able to come back from his knee issue.
Howe has no fresh concerns to report from the win over Brighton, though, and it would not be a surprise to see the visiting boss stick with the majority of that same XI if fitness levels allow him to do so.
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One change can be expected in the final third, as Jacob Murphy was replaced by Allan Saint-Maximin on the 64-minute mark against Brighton, and that alteration could be made from the first whistle here.
Southampton possible starting lineup:
Forster; Livramento, Bednarek, Stephens, Walker-Peters; S. Armstrong, Romeu, Ward-Prowse, Redmond; Adams, Broja
Newcastle United possible starting lineup:
Dubravka; Krafth, Schar, Burn, Targett; Willock, Shelvey, Joelinton; Saint-Maximin, Wood, Fraser