Mauricio Pellegrino believes that Saints are in a strong position to deliver a positive result at St James’ Park on Saturday afternoon.
Following the disappointment of last weekend’s 0-0 draw with Stoke City at St Mary’s, the Argentinian is keen to see a stronger away performance from his side against Newcastle, who have won just once at home since October.
“We are prepared to compete in what will be a really difficult game. Newcastle away in their stadium is a tough test; they defend well, they are strong on the counter-attack and on set plays. My feeling right now is that our spirit is good, togetherness is higher and we are ready.”
Pellegrino’s men will look to add a second victory to what is currently the second longest active away unbeaten run (four) in the Premier League and the Saints coach has been pleased with his players’ preparations, which have been shared between Staplewood Campus and St Mary’s for the second consecutive week.
“I think we are well prepared, the environment in training sessions was good this week,” he said. “Everybody is conscious of what we need in this moment and how we have to approach the game. Our feeling now is positive.”
Part of those plans have been identifying the positives of the stalemate with Stoke while acknowledging that his team will need to raise their performance levels against the Magpies in front of a partisan home crowd.
“We have to encourage them in a positive way for what the team did well the other day. It is difficult to comment to the fans that we deserve to win again when the result goes against us because it is like we are repeating the same movie every weekend but I have to be honest with my players.
“This week we have analysed and criticised ourselves in certain aspects; we need to be braver and more clinical and read moments of the game better.
“I think we have to be stronger on the road than we are at home. When you travel, a lot of things are against you; the opposition fans, sometimes the referee because everybody pushes him and in this moment we have to be supportive inside and outside the pitch to make sure we overturn them."
A sold-out travelling support high above the field at St James’ will be a welcome sight then for Saints in the first of four crucial away fixtures in the Premier League and FA Cup in the coming weeks.
“Our fans will be behind us so we have to show that we want to win the game and give our best for them. Hopefully it will be a nice game for us.”