Southampton and Newcastle played out a tense 0-0 draw on the south coast, as two sides seriously struggling for form continued their present plights, with Rafa Benitez’s side making their worst start to a league campaign for over 120 years.
Neither side could find a breakthrough at St Mary’s, despite Mario Lemina going close with a clever flick that struck the post, but a game severely lacking in quality resulted in the sharing of the spoils as Newcastle’s winless run continued and Southampton seem simply unable to find the back of the net.
Relegation an inevitability?
Whilst the Saints and the Magpies are desperately struggling for form, collectively recording one win between them and just 12 goals in 20 Premier League games, it may be the poor form of their fellow competitors that enables both sides to remain in the division for 2019/2020.
Southampton registered 22 shots throughout the game on Saturday, with just four on target, though Danny Ings and Charlie Austin were unable to find the back of the net; if the Saints can continue to create chances in the current campaign, they may have hope of survival, but the January window may have to be visited to inject a creative spark into this struggling, goalless Southampton side.
How much longer for Rafa Benitez?
It was well documented that Newcastle United retaining the services of Rafa Benitez as they were relegated to the Championship was a remarkable coup, though the fact a world-renowned manager remains on Tyneside despite the fiasco of a regime that is being led by Mike Ashley remains a true testament to the Spaniard’s character and his respect for the Newcastle fans.
It is difficult to see Benitez remaining at St James’ Park beyond this season, though whether his time at the club comes to an end before then truly does remain to be seen. He is clearly hurting, deeply frustrated at the lack of transfer activity and 10 games without a win and scoring just six goals in the process (the same as Southampton) will be damaging Benitez to the core.
Newcastle’s next three fixtures, Watford (H) Bournemouth (H) and Burnley (A) may dictate the course of their season, but Benitez will be all too aware that his side simply must begin to gather momentum if they are to have any hope, even a chance of remaining a Premier League club.
Southampton’s barren run continues
Prior to the game, Southampton had set an unwanted record of not scoring in four consecutive league games for the first time since 1993 – the Saints continued this run and Mark Hughes will be begging for it to end as his side prepare for games against Man City (A) Watford (H) and Fulham (A) in their next three.
It is too early to call if Hughes’s side are genuine relegation contenders, but if this run continues and the likes of Austin and Ings fail to find their shooting boots, then Premier League football could be disappearing from St Mary’s in a flash; Southampton have time to turn this around, but they simply have to start scoring, and soon.
Man of the Match: Mario Lemina
Lemina, in a game that lacked quality, exhibited some fine passing, aggressive tackling and kept his side in the game whilst also going near to scoring their first goal in five games.
The Gabon international has impressed since his then club-record move from Juventus, and he may not be plying his trade on the south coast too much longer with the form and skill he is showing in 2018/19.