Southampton will be looking for their first home win of the campaign when bottom of the table Newcastle United make the trip down south to St. Mary’s on Saturday.
Manager Mark Hughes, however, has warned his side not to underestimate their upcoming opponents, suggesting their poor run of form has mainly been down to who they have had to play against since the season started back in August.
“It’s an important game as it’s the next one and it’s one we want to get maximum points from,” Hughes told reporters (via the Shields Gazette) ahead of Saturday’s clash.
“I think there is a danger that people underestimate Newcastle at this moment in time. I think the fixture computer hasn’t been very kind to them. If you look at the games they’ve faced – Man United, Man City, Tottenham, Arsenal and Chelsea as well – not one of those clubs have beaten them by more than one clear goal and that suggests they are accomplished side.
“They’ve gone to Old Trafford and taken a 2-0 lead so you see they’ve got good potential in the side and that’s really the message I’ve been laying back to the players.”
Hughes is certainly right to highlight the entire context of Newcastle’s season heading into Saturday’s game. It is certainly one of those instances where the team in question are better than what their current league standing suggests.
Having to play Tottenham, Chelsea, Manchester City, Arsenal and Manchester United in such quick succession would have left most other teams in a similar position to Newcastle.
That being said, Rafael Benitez’s side have also been poor in matches versus Brighton, Leicester City, Cardiff City and Crystal Palace.
With that in mind, Saturday’s game really should be one that Southampton are winning. Yet Hughes’ comments on people underestimating Newcastle, as well as it appearing to be a warning to his players, also looks like the Welshman getting his excuses in early ahead of what could be another disastrous home result for the Saints.