Saints host Newcastle at St Mary's on Sunday afternoon looking for a winning return to Premier League action...
WHAT’S AT STAKE?
Having impressed despite defeat against Manchester United three weeks ago, Southampton will have been disappointed with the nature of the loss at Stoke that followed.
The visit of Newcastle this weekend however on the other side of the international break, represents the perfect opportunity for Mauricio Pellegrino’s men to begin climbing the table as 12th meets 9th at St.Mary’s.
Saints have won more Premier League games in total (15) and at home (12) against Newcastle than they have against any other side in the competition.
After three straight losses had Newcastle fans fearing the worst in August, the Magpies bounced back to collect 10 points from their last five games to find themselves comfortably in mid-table.
Consecutive wins over West Ham, Swansea and Stoke and a hard-fought draw with Liverpool demonstrated what Rafa Benitez’s outfit are capable of so Saints will need to be at their very best to get back on track on Sunday.
Newcastle have picked up just five points from a possible 42 in the top flight, their solitary win in that time coming last month at Swansea.
Saints’ Shane Long was ruled out of Republic of Ireland’s decisive World Cup qualifying clash with Wales on Monday night. The striker looks set however to win his fitness battle and feature in the match day squad on Sunday.
Matt Targett remains Southampton’s only other injury concern, with all of Mauricio Pellegrino's international stars returning safely from their duties.
Newcastle are hoping to welcome back Christian Atsu as the Ghanaian winger recovers from a knock.
Should Atsu return, Paul Dummett and Masadio Haïdara will be the away side’s only absentees.
Southampton’s previous five:
Stoke City (a) L 1-2
Manchester United (h) L 0-1
Crystal Palace (a) W 1-0
Watford (h) L 0-2
Huddersfield Town (a) D 0-0
Newcastle’s previous five:
Liverpool (h) D 1-1
Brighton (a) L 0-1
Stoke City (h) W 2-1
Swansea City (a) W 1-0
West Ham (h) W 3-0
ONE TO WATCH
The lack of transfer activity coming out of St.James’ Park over the summer led boss Benitez to air his frustrations in public.
Fast forward two months and it is one of the Magpies’ Championship recruits of last year – Matt Ritchie - who has been making them tick so far this season.
The former Bournemouth winger’s set-piece delivery, work rate and intensity has drawn the praise of the home fans of late, not least for his man-of-the- match performance against Liverpool last time out.
Jamaal Lascelles meanwhile – the youngest captain in Premier League history - was a nominee for the Premier League Player of the Month award, the defender scoring twice and keeping one clean sheet in a productive month for the Magpies.
PREVIOUS FOUR MEETINGS
April 2016: Saints 3-1 Newcastle
August 2015: Newcastle 2-2 Saints
January 2015: Newcastle 1-2 Saints
September 2014: Saints 4-0 Newcastle
DID YOU KNOW?
Rafael Benitez has failed to collect a single point in his three previous Premier League trips to St.Mary’s – all with different times. The Spaniard lost here with Liverpool in January 2005, Chelsea in March 2013 and Newcastle in April 2016.
What’s more, Sunday’s visitors haven’t kept a clean sheet in the top-flight against Southampton for 26 games, since a 0-0 draw in February 1969.
HOW TO FOLLOW
Can't make it to St.Mary's? Our interactive match centre at southamptonfc.com will have all the build-up, as well as in-game updates and free live audio commentary for you to enjoy.
Additionally, be sure to follow us on our various social channel for behind-the-scenes access and further updates.