Saints soar to the Premier League summit

By SFC Media time Fri 06 Nov Saints v Newcastle United
Photo by Matt Watson
Fri 06 Nov 8PM
Premier League
Southampton
2
Newcastle United
0
Adams [7'] Armstrong [82']
goal
Romeu (27')
yellow card
Fernández (43') Longstaff (90')
Referee: Peter Bankes | Venue: St Mary's Stadium | Attendance: 0

It’s been a long time in the making, 32 years in fact, but Southampton have finally reached the summit of the Premier League following an impressive 2-0 win over Newcastle United at St Mary’s.

Ché Adams scored the game’s opening goal, assisted by the energetic Theo Walcott, who was making his top-flight debut at St Mary’s, having last represented Saints in the Championship on home soil.

Stuart Armstrong scored his 50th career goal in the second half to secure the points, with no reply from Steve Bruce’s Newcastle, as Saints assumed top spot in fine fashion.

In truth, the hosts dominated the majority of the tie and were their usual spirited selves, in spite of the loss of Danny Ings, as side-kick Adams once again came to the fore.

And just over a year since one of Saints' darkest days in recent history, Ralph Hasenhüttl's side now top the pile, having never enjoyed a better start to a Premier League campaign. The last time Saints were in such position was 1988, before the formation of the Premier League, back when the club called The Dell home.

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 06: Stuart Armstrong of Southampton celebrates after making it 2-0 during the Premier League match between Southampton and Newcastle United at St Mary's Stadium on November 06, 2020 in Southampton, England. Sporting stadiums around the UK remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Matt Watson/Southampton FC via Getty Images)
Stu Armstrong celebrates clinching the points for Saints 

Glancing at the form guide, many may have been forgiven for having Saints down as marginal favourites ahead of kick-off. Indeed, Saints entered the tie with the best form record of any team within the current top six, boasting four wins and a draw from their last five – a tally no other side could better.

Manager Hasenhüttl and striker Adams had this week been recognised for their contributions to Saints’ recent success with inclusion in October’s Premier League awards nominations, while wins on the road were beginning to be matched by consistency on home turf, having triumphed in four of the previous six at St Mary’s (D1, L1).

Newcastle condemned Everton to a second successive loss last time out, in similar vein to Saints' showing the week prior, and began the evening only two shy of the hosts' points total (13), but six places adrift.

The only dampener to Saints' otherwise high spirits concerned the loss of top scorer Ings, confirmed midweek, as the striker tackles a 4-6 week spell on the sidelines nursing a knee injury.

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 06: Che Adams(centre) of Southampton celebrates after opening the scoring during the Premier League match between Southampton and Newcastle United at St Mary's Stadium on November 06, 2020 in Southampton, England. Sporting stadiums around the UK remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Matt Watson/Southampton FC via Getty Images)
Ché Adams celebrates the game's first goal, with provider Theo Walcott

Consequently, Walcott was thrust into a central role, partnering Adams up top, while Moussa Djenepo came into midfield, filling the void left by the Everton loanee. Jack Stephens also stepped into defence.

Confidence had been the conductor of many of Saints’ recent displays, but none more so than in the opening ten minutes of Friday night's fixture. The hosts raced onto the front foot, leaving the Magpies in their wake.

Adams was first to test Karl Darlow, who met the challenge of the striker’s fierce shot, before another burgeoning Saints partnership came to fruition. Walcott and Adams appeared, on the face of it, the most legitimate pairing in the absence of Ings, and so it proved in the seventh minute.

The dogged Kyle Walker-Peters did well in the build-up, stealing the ball off of Miguel Almíron, before allowing Walcott to takeover and find Adams. The cross was chipped towards the frontman, who had the audacity to take it on the volley, lashing beyond Darlow, with the sheer force of the shot rendering it unstoppable. Seven minutes played, Saints off the mark.

The visitors were being smothered by the sharpness of the home side. Walcott tried his luck in the 14th minute, with Oriol Romeu dictating the midfield third and releasing the forward, but the shot finished off target.

For context, the goal was Adams’s third in four games, and served as perfect illustration of why he’s been included on the Premier League’s Player of the Month shortlist.

Sean Longstaff planted a header straight down the eyeline of Alex McCarthy in the 23rd minute, following a lofted cross from Jamal Lewis, but the effort was easily saved. Luckily, the finish failed to match the quality of the delivery.

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 06: Moussa Djenepo(R) of Southampton gets passed Federico Fernandez(L) of Newcastle during the Premier League match between Southampton and Newcastle United at St Mary's Stadium on November 06, 2020 in Southampton, England. Sporting stadiums around the UK remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Matt Watson/Southampton FC via Getty Images)
Moussa Djenepo returning to the starting XI against Newcastle

Romeu picked up the first booking of the game in the proceeding phase of play, converging on Allan Saint-Maximin and illegally stopping him in his tracks. The memory of the Frenchman’s goal at St Mary’s, the last game to be played in front of a crowd, clearly weighing heavy on the mind of the Saints midfielder.

Saints were exceptionally close to a second ten minutes from the interval. Djenepo did wonderfully well to flick on Ward-Prowse’s pass, before Walcott shimmied his way into a yard of space, reversing his shooting position, but curled inches wide of the post.

A Ward-Prowse free-kick searched for the head of Jannik Vestergaard moments later, after Walcott was fouled, but wasn't quite up to the standard produced at Villa Park last weekend – a formula that produced that game’s opener.

Saints’ only frustration, come half time, would have been not entering the second period with a more commanding lead. The press was relentless, yielding plenty of opportunity, but not a second goal. As it went, Saints had the lead at the break but not yet the points wrapped up.

Walcott continued to drop deep as the second half got under way, picking the ball up in positions similar to that of Ings in previous games, acting as the link between midfield and attack. His ingenuity forced a corner in the 49th minute, taken by Ward-Prowse and met at the back post by an unmarked Vestergaard.

He elected to divert the ball back across goal, where Adams was lurking, but his strike was headed off the line, before Darlow was forced into a fingertip save from a Romeu thunderbolt.

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 06: Kyle Walker-Peters of Southampton shoots at goal during the Premier League match between Southampton and Newcastle United at St Mary's Stadium on November 06, 2020 in Southampton, England. Sporting stadiums around the UK remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Matt Watson/Southampton FC via Getty Images)
Kyle Walker-Peters providing plenty of energy down the right wing 

The Newcastle stopper flew across his line to tip the effort onto the woodwork, with Saints continuing the direction of traffic from a dominant first period. Djenepo had a claim for a penalty waved away on the hour mark, having nutmegged Jacob Murphy in the box, but the referee remained uninterested.

Another chance for a second came and went in the 62nd minute, as Jan Bednarek connected with another Ward-Prowse corner. The defender rose well, diverting his header on target, but Darlow again pawed to safety. Another home goal looked inevitable.

Murphy assessed his options 20 minutes from time, presented with a chance from a central free-kick following a handball from Armstrong, but smashed his effort in to the wall.

Nathan Redmond entered the fray in the 73rd minute, keen to make an impact. In fact, it was Walcott who went closest to making another breakthrough shortly after.

He was released by Armstrong and was preparing to unleash a shot before Lascellas dived into a tackle, getting a faint touch on the ball whilst also making contact with Walcott. What looked to be a sure-fire penalty was dismissed by both referee and VAR, but it needn't have mattered, as Saints were soon to make maximum points certain.

Longstaff's mistake was punished by Armstrong on the edge of his own box, who nipped the ball away before engineering a yard of space to slot low beyond Darlow in the 82nd minute. It was sloppy from Newcastle, who were twice penalised on the night for hesitation in and around their own box.

McCarthy sprang into action to claw away substitute Joelinton’s header in the dying stages, preserving Saints’ clean sheet and deterring Newcastle from any late revival. Saints, wracking up their fifth win in six games, closed out the game with relative ease and have now won three consecutive ties for the first time during Hasenhüttl's increasingly successful reign. 

Southampton

Head to Head Stats

Newcastle United
  • Possession (%)
    61
    comparison angle
    39
  • Shots
    15
    comparison angle
    4
  • Shots on target
    8
    comparison angle
    2
  • Corners
    7
    comparison angle
    3
  • Passes Complete
    464
    comparison angle
    270

Southampton

1
Alex McCarthy (GK)
2
Kyle Walker-Peters
35
Jan Bednarek
4
Jannik Vestergaard
5
Jack Stephens
6
Oriol Romeu yellow card
12
Moussa Djenepo
replace Nathan Redmond (74′)
8
James Ward-Prowse (C)
17
Stuart Armstrong goal
10
Che Adams goal
32
Theo Walcott
replace Shane Long (88′)
7
Shane Long
27
Ibrahima Diallo
23
Nathan Tella
44
Fraser Forster
40
Daniel N'Lundulu
31
Kayne Ramsay
11
Nathan Redmond

Newcastle United

26
Karl Darlow (GK)
15
Jamal Lewis
18
Federico Fernández yellow card
23
Jacob Murphy
replace Joelinton (79′)
6
Jamaal Lascelles (C)
5
Fabian Schär
24
Miguel Almirón
36
Sean Longstaff yellow card
16
Jeff Hendrick
replace Matthew Longstaff (61′)
10
Allan Saint-Maximin
13
Callum Wilson
replace Andy Carroll (78′)
4
Matthew Longstaff
9
Joelinton
14
Isaac Hayden
2
Ciaran Clark
19
Javier Manquillo
29
Mark Gillespie
7
Andy Carroll
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