Can The Saints Exploit Toon Injuries?
Southampton got a much needed victory at the expense of QPR in their last league game, with Rickie Lambert and Jason Puncheon both scoring while Morgan Schneiderlin forced an Anton Ferdinand own goal.
Lambert’s goal was his fifth of the season, coming from 26 efforts at goal with exactly half on target. Lambert also has three assists to his name, meaning he has directly contributed to 8 of Southampton’s 18 goals this season
Jason Puncheon has consistently delivered the tasks requested of him as a midfielder, Puncheon has netted twice, getting 55% of 20 efforts at goal on target. He has also won 65% of tackles and completed 136 passes in the opposition half averaging one every 5 minutes and 15 seconds
Southampton followed on that result with the good news that 18 year old midfielder James Ward-Prowse has signed a new five year contract. Ward-Prowse has been a regular for the Saints making 7 appearances and covering more ground than any of his team mates in three of those, no mean feat considering Southampton top the charts for most distance covered this season.
Morgan Schneiderlin’s cross which led to Saints’ third goal was just his fourth of the season, so the resulting own goal may encourage the French midfielder to deliver more crosses. Schneiderlin has preferred to move the ball around on the floor this season, completing 211 passes in the opposition half, averaging around one every 5 minutes
Newcastle will be looking to bounce back from back to back defeats against Southampton after falling to a 2-1 defeat against Swansea in their last league outing
Demba Ba scored for Newcastle in that game, and while Newcastle haven’t necessarily had the results to show for it Ba has been in lethal form this season. His 8th goal means he is tied with Manchester United’s Robin van Persie in second place in the race for the golden boot. The goals scored column could be looking even healthier, however, if Ba sharpened up his shooting accuracy. Ba has hit just 44% of his shots on target this season
Steven Taylor has talked this week of bringing the ‘fear factor’ back to Newcastle’s opponents. After missing much of last season through injury Taylor has been on fantastic form so far this season making 17 clearances, 41 interceptions and 5 blocks
Yohan Cabaye has been a talisman for Newcastle since joining last season, but the Magpies face several weeks without him as he is due a groin operation. Cabaye has completed 178 passes in the opposition half this season and has delivered 37 crosses, joint fourth in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index with Spurs winger Gareth Bale, showing the absence that Newcastle will feel
Cheick Tiote will be expected to step up in Cabaye’s absence and improve on his current passing rate of one every 6 minutes and 3 seconds to take on play making responsibilities from Cabaye, who averaged one every 5 minutes 2 seconds so far this season