Who needs Wembley? This weekend sees us travel down to the South Coast to play our ‘cup final’. However if we win, we won’t get a trophy or European qualification, we get the satisfaction of finishing in 8th place in the Premier League. In fact, we don’t even get that as Southampton could still overtake us during the remaining six matches, so this match really isn’t the ‘cup final’ that Alan Pardew and John Carver are suggesting.
We were awful on Tuesday night as we saw how far ahead Everton were in front of us, which is a worry considering we were streets ahead of them during the 2011/12 season. It’s incredible how far we have fallen in two years and most of the blame has to fall at the feet of Mike Ashley and Alan Pardew. The team should have received more investment over the past two windows, however the set of players at the club should be performing at a better, more consistent level, therefore Pardew also has to take some of the blame for our current woes on the pitch.
In reality, the poor performance on Tuesday should not be repeated this weekend, as the players will want to improve considerably, however the team have been shocking for the past three matches, so Saturday will probably be another frustrating day as a Newcastle fan.
Alan Pardew will be back in the stadium after serving his three game stadium ban, however he will now serve a four game touchline ban. This will mean his participation will still be limited as he can’t take his place on the touchline, but he can take pre-match, half time and post-match team talks. He will also have a better view of the game as he won’t be restricted to watching on television. Although people are talking about Pardew’s return to the stadium being a positive, I doubt it will have much of an impact.
We are currently one point above Southampton in 8th place, but they are far more consistent than we are, and we will have to improve massively to ensure we stay above them. They have a few injury concerns, however their side isn’t reliant on individuals like ours, so it will be a tough game regardless of the side they play. All of their players know their role in the team’s philosophy. The Saints have received a lot of praise for their style of play and academy this season, but they have a precarious summer now they are without Nicola Cortese. There are fears that the likes of Adam Lallana, Luke Shaw and Morgan Schneiderlin will leave in the summer, as some people doubt Liebherr’s ambitions for the club.
Since their return to the Premier League, we have had mixed fortunes against Southampton. We have won one, drew one and lost one. In the corresponding fixture last season, Southampton came out on top winning the game 2-0 with goals from Adam Lallana and Gaston Ramirez. The home side were engaged in a relegation battle at the time and we will be facing a completely different team this weekend. In the previous meeting this season, we drew 1-1 with Yoan Gouffran opening the scoring, before Jay Rodriguez equalised. Continue reading