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Southampton will look to take advantage of an injury-hit Newcastle United when the teams meet at St Mary's Stadium in the Premier League. The Saints have had a disastrous season so far and are 19th, with only eight points from 12 games. However, they come into this game on the back of a morale-boosting win at fellow strugglers QPR. Newcastle, meanwhile, had a profitable midweek Europa League home game against Portuguese side Maritimo. Alan Pardew's men may have been held to a 1-1 draw but the result means the Magpies have qualified for the knock-out stages of the competition.
Where to Watch Live
Kick-off is set for 3pm GMT. Watch highlights of the game on Match of the Day on BBC One and BBC One HD at 10.25pm GMT.
Southampton ended a miserable winless strea, stretching back to a Capital One Cup game against Sheffield Wednesday in September, with a fine 3-1 defeat of QPR at Loftus Road. A battle of the two basement teams in the Premier League, the Saints won with goals from Rickie Lambert, Jason Puncheon and Anton Ferdinand (own goal) to secure a second league win of the campaign.
That Nigel Adkins has had a difficult start to the season is an understatement, but if his club can retain even a measure of the form and confidence they displayed in their last match, they may just be able to turn the corner and salvage their season. Three points against the Magpies would go a long way towards starting the push out of the relegation zone, with Reading and Aston Villa their immediate targets; the Royals are 17th and the Villans 18th, both one point above the Saints.
Newcastle manager Pardew has not been having an easy time either. The Tyneside club may be celebrating progress to the knock-out stages of the Europa League but the truth is their league form has been poor... or at least not up to the standards they set last season, when they were challenging for a Champions League berth.
Newcastle's last league game was a 1-2 home defeat to Swansea City and the club have not won a league match since the 2-1 defeat of high-flying West Brom at St James' Park. Like the Saints were before last week, the Magpies are winless in recent games (five, to be precise) and, most importantly, are dismal on the road. Pardew's men have played five away games in the Premier League and are yet to register a win.
If three points for Southampton could help re-start a relegation-threatened season, three for Newcastle could push them to the dizzying height of eighth (depending on other results) and maybe spark a revival of their own.
- Last Five (all competitions, most recent first): W D L L L
- Last Result: Queens Park Rangers 1 - 3 Southampton
- Last Five (all competitions, most recent first): D L L D D
- Last Result: Newcastle United 1 - 1 Maritimo
Adkins' biggest joy ahead of this game is that he has few selection headaches; Southampton have nearly a full squad for Newcastle's visit, so it is likely they will name the same side that so convincingly beat QPR. The only absentees are midfielder Richard Chaplow and right back Frazer Richardson.
Expect Lambert to be the key man up front, as the 30-year-old looks to continue an excellent goal-scoring start to the season. The Englishman has five goals in 12 appearances so far, with three assists to boot. Also keep an eye on summer signing Gaston Ramirez. Southampton pulled off a massive transfer coup by snatching the Uruguayan from the likes of Liverpool and Tottenham for a club record £12m and although he has shown sparks of intent, the South American has yet to truly shine for his new club.
Probable Line-Up: Gazzaniga; Clyne, Fonte, Yoshida, Shaw; Schneiderlin; Puncheon, Cork, Ramirez, Lallana; Lambert
Newcastle, unfortunately, have a string of players absent... and all are key first team members. The biggest loss will probably be club captain and centre back Fabricio Colocccini, who serves the last of a three-match suspension. Injuries have ruled out French midfielder Hatem Ben Arfa and striker Shola Ameobi. Meanwhile, another Frenchman, Gabriel Obertan, is also a doubt and right back James Perch is definitely out for at least another month. And all this is just recent news. Long-term absentees are Dan Gosling, Ryan Taylor and Haris Vuckic. The good news, though, is Senegal striker Papiss Cisse will probably be fit to play, despite pulling a thigh muscle in the midweek game.
Probable Line-Up: Krul; Simpson, S Taylor, Wiliamson, Santon; Marveaux, Tiote, Guttierez; Sammy Ameobi, Demba Ba, Papiss Cisse