Southampton vs Newcastle preview, betting tips and prediction: Magpies could frustrate in tight affair

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The draw @ 5/2 with Coral

Newcastle to win @ under 2.5 goals @ 15/2 with Coral

Draw HT/Southampton FT @ 7/2 with Coral

Newcastle have never done too well at Southampton, be it at the Dell or St Mary’s, and their recent memories are probably the worst. They have conceded 11 goals in the last three trips, losing each one. But they come into this weekend’s clash in much better shape than before, and arguably better shape than Southampton themselves.

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After a shaky start to the campaign under Rafa Benitez, with two defeats, the Magpies have recovered excellently with just one loss since. They have become remarkably solid at the back, keeping an organised shape that will see them pick up a good amount of points if it continues. Christian Atsu has been their player of the season so far, and he could miss out; that would be a huge blow for Benitez. The Ghanaian has been creating a lot of chances and without him Newcastle could struggle going forward. But with only five goals scored so far this term, it is Southampton who will be more worried about finding the net. Only two of Newcastle’s seven games so far this season have had more than 2.5 goals, because of the organisation Benitez instils.

The bookmakers have been rather harsh on Newcastle in this game, but that leads to good value when backing them. Statistics say it will be a low scorer, and Newcastle are a worthy bet to win with under 2.5 goals at 15/2 with Coral. Mauricio Pellegrino is yet to find the right attacking formula this season, but they will dictate the play a lot and if they can break through, then they have rightly been made favourites for this game. James Ward Prowse will be a creative force, while Charlie Austin and Manolo Gabbiadini know where the goal is when given a chance. Benitez is unlikely to leave much space in behind his defence, but against Liverpool his side showed they can get forward when given chance. They would take a draw now and in truth that seems like the most likely outcome at this point in time. If Southampton are to win it, they will need to be patient, and that is why we are backing a second half victory for them at 7/2 with Coral.

Key battle: Oriol Romeu vs Jonjo Shelvey

There had been a few fears for Newcastle when Jonjo Shelvey played alongside Mikel Merino. Both players like to control the tempo of the game and although they sit deep, neither is known for breaking up play. But against Liverpool they were more disciplined, particularly in the second half and they will need to be so again, especially because this game is away from home.

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Romeu is a similar player to Merino but it will also be his job to cut out Shelvey’s long passes. The England man can spray a ball across the pitch to unleash either a winger or a fullback or thread through for a striker, just as he showed against former club Liverpool before the international break. His presence allows Newcastle to sit deep and remain a threat because he can turn defence into attack in an instant. Keeping him quiet will go a long way to frustrating the visitors.

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