Southampton-Newcastle United Preview

The Associated Press
SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 15: Mario Lemina of Southampton FC (18) clears the ball away from Isaac Hayden of Newcastle United (14) during the Premier League match between Southampton and Newcastle United at St.Mary's Stadium on October 15, 2017, in Southampton, England. (Photo by Serena Taylor/Newcastle United via Getty Images)

Southampton-Newcastle United Preview

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 15: Mario Lemina of Southampton FC (18) clears the ball away from Isaac Hayden of Newcastle United (14) during the Premier League match between Southampton and Newcastle United at St.Mary's Stadium on October 15, 2017, in Southampton, England. (Photo by Serena Taylor/Newcastle United via Getty Images)

A pair of struggling sides will do battle to stay out of the relegation fight Saturday as Newcastle United welcome Southampton to St. James' Park.

While both sides are not in the bottom three at the moment, Newcastle (7-8-14) are in 16th place on 29 points, two clear of 18th-place Crystal Palace at the top of the Premier League drop. Southampton (5-13-11) are in real danger, just one point clear of Palace and one place below Newcastle.

Rafa Benitez's Magpies saw their four-match unbeaten run (1-3-0) come to an end last week in a 2-0 loss to Benitez's former employer, Liverpool. Newcastle kept only 34 percent of the ball and made three-times fewer passes on the day.

"We were playing against a dangerous team," Benitez said. "We know they have pace up front. We managed 40 minutes, then it was a mistake. We had to go for it in the second half and then were more open.

"You have to keep the balance to be stronger in the defence and create chances in the attack. We are learning, but we are still making mistakes against teams. We are improving but this team has to get points."

If the Magpies are to get something, the attack will likely fall on the shoulders of Joselu, who has accounted for 33 percent of his team's output at home in league play. He's scored four of Newcastle's 12 goals this season.

Despite their position, Southampton have just one loss in their last seven league matches (1-5-1). Last time out, the Saints claimed a point in a scoreless draw against Stoke City as Mauricio Pellegrino's side controlled play for long stretches of the game and fired six attempts on frame.

Southampton will be a bit short handed this weekend as midfielder Maya Yoshida will miss out due to a knee injury, while Steven Davis is out with a hamstring and striker Charlie Austin remains out long-term as he works his way back from a hamstring problem.

Newcastle are targeting their first victory in eight Premier League matches against Southampton, with their last win over the Saints coming in February 2013.

These sides played out a 2-2 draw in the reverse fixture back in October. Manolo Gabbiadini netted twice for Southampton, while Isaac Hayden and Ayoze Perez scored for Newcastle.

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