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Newcastle United will be presented with a golden opportunity to steer themselves out of the relegation zone this weekend, when they face fellow strugglers Southampton at St. James’ Park.
The Magpies, currently sitting 16th in the Premier League table, could find themselves five points clear of the drop zone, should they manage to beat Southampton, while the other results go their way.
The Saints, on the other hand, have found it difficult to find any sort of rhythm this season and will be desperate for a win against Newcastle, as they aim to survive relegation under Mauricio Pellegrino.
While the fate of West Brom is almost sealed, there are about seven teams still fighting to survive the two available relegation spots. The fact that 17th-placed Southampton trail Newcastle only by one goal will make this clash a six-pointer.
Newcastle United will be without the services of key midfielder Jonjo Shelvey, who has remained on the sidelines for the last couple of matches while star striker Islam Slimani is also out with an injury. Slimani’s injury will definitely be a huge blow for the Magpies. Meanwhile, experienced defender Jesus Gamez will be the final absentee for the hosts this weekend.
After implementing the five-man defensive backline, Rafa Benitez is likely to revert to his customary 4-4-1-1 shape this weekend, meaning Paul Dummett, who featured on as a central defender in the game against Liverpool last week, will once again shift to his familiar left back position.
Coach: Rafael Benitez
Martin Dubravka (GK)
Martin Dubravka will retain his place in between the sticks for Newcastle United this weekend. The Slovak has been Newcastle’s first choice keeper since making his move from Slavia Prague earlier this year. However, he may not have the busiest day in the office, coming up against a toothless Southampton attack.
DeAndre Yedlin (RB)
After being deployed as a right wing-back against Liverpool, DeAndre Yedlin will revert to a deeper position on the right-hand side of the defence. His pace and tenacity will be useful for the Magpies as they look to catch their opposition on the break.
Jamaal Lascelles (CB)
One of the most impressive Newcastle defenders this season, Jamaal Lascelles’ impressive performances have attracted attention from a few Premier League clubs. His leadership will be important as Newcastle look to keep the Southampton attack at bay this weekend.
Florian Lejeune (CB)
Jamaal Lascelles will be partnered by French defender Florian Lejeune. Both the defenders have formed a solid partnership this season and will be looking to keep their strength intact against the Saints.
Paul Dummett (LB)
Paul Dummett was deployed as a centre-back in the game against Liverpool but is expected to shift to his much more familiar left-back position. The 26-year-old has been an ever-present figure in the Newcastle backline this season.
Matt Ritchie (RM)
Matt Ritchie has been Rafa Benitez’s weapon-in-chief in the attacking department this campaign. The Bournemouth star has already chipped in with six assists this term. His dynamism and ability to make something happen will prove to be useful for the Magpies in the final third.
Isaac Hayden (RCM)
Isaac Hayden will replace the injured Jonjo Shelvey in the centre of the midfield. The 22-year-old definitely needs to up his ante, in order to thrive against Southampton’s dynamic midfielders Mario Lemina and Dusan Tadic.
Mohamed Diame (LCM)
Mohamed Diame’s strong physical presence in midfield will be key as Newcastle will be looking to dominate their opposition this weekend. It will be interesting to see how he copes with the challenge of overcoming Oriol Romeu in the centre of the park.
Kenedy has proven to be a handy player for the Magpies this year. The Brazilian youngster, on loan from Chelsea, has featured in all of Newcastle’s games, since joining the club earlier this year. His versatility and flair will be useful for the home side.
Ayoze Perez (CAM)
Spanish attacker Ayoze Perez will be deployed just behind the main striker Dwight Gayle. Ayoze’s ability to create chances will be crucial, especially against Southampton this weekend.
Dwight Gayle (ST)
Dwight Gayle will lead the attack for Newcastle. The English attacker will once again get the nod ahead of Joselu in the centre-forward position.