Southampton 2-0 Newcastle
- Goals: Che Adams (£5.9m), Stuart Armstrong (£5.5m)
- Assists: Theo Walcott (£5.8m)
- Bonus points: Kyle Walker-Peters x3 (£4.5m), Armstrong x2, Jack Stephens x1 (£4.8m)
NEXT BIG INGS?
Che Adams (£5.9m) made a positive start to life in a Southampton team without the injured Danny Ings (£8.4m).
It only took a few minutes for the former Birmingham City man to get on the scoresheet against Newcastle on Friday night, sweeping home Theo Walcott‘s (£5.8m) cross with tremendous aplomb.
That was Adams’ sixth attacking return of 2020/21 and his fifth in the last four matches. That certainly represents promising form even with clashes against Wolves (away), Manchester United (home), Brighton (away) and Sheffield United (home) in the next four Gameweeks.
There had been some concern that Adams would suffer without Ings as the spearhead, whose five goals, two assists and incessant high-press have made him such an important part of Ralph Hasenhüttl’s style.
Instead, the Southampton manager chose to use Adams as his Ings replacement, so to speak, asking his number 10 to shoulder more responsibility for shots on goal, using Walcott to fill in as the more mobile second-striker.
Together, the two players caused Newcastle all sorts of problems, combining for the opening goal, before Walcott went close to bending an effort in from the edge of the box shortly after.
“(Walcott was) very good, I think, especially when he can turn on the ball. He has good technique. He had two good chances where the finish, we need to work on. But what he invests for us is amazing.” – Ralph Hasenhüttl
Since conceding five times in a Gameweek 2 defeat to Spurs, Southampton’s defence has become one of the most reliable in Premier League home matches.
They have now gone three St. Mary’s Stadium outings without conceding, helping Alex McCarthy (£4.5m) to claim the top spot for points-per-million spent among goalkeepers this season (7.3).
Kyle Walker-Peters (£4.5m) was the chief beneficiary in the latest round of action though, as he claimed all three bonus points in the 2-0 win over Newcastle.
Keeping a clean sheet on Friday night was made more impressive by recent injury developments at Southampton.
Ryan Bertrand (£5.0m) missed the game with a hamstring injury, the lack of options forcing Hasenhüttl into deploying centre-back Jack Stephens (£4.8m) on the left-hand side of his four-man defence.
Whether Southampton can continue this run of solid defensive form perhaps depends if they can shore themselves up on the road.
For all their solidity at home, the Saints have conceded three times in each of their last two away encounters and they face trips to Wolves (Gameweek 9) and Brighton (Gameweek 11) soon.
As much as Southampton were deserving of praise for the way they managed this game, it must be said that Newcastle put in one of their worst performances of the season.
The combination of Allan Saint-Maximin‘s (£5.3m) pace and Callum Wilson‘s (£6.6m) poacher’s instinct has proven fruitful in recent weeks but, for an unknown reason, Steve Bruce elected not to deploy the Frenchman in wide areas on Friday night.
Stationed alongside Wilson in a central role on paper, Saint-Maximin struggled to get on the ball and, with Newcastle’s midfielders repeatedly losing the ball in key areas, their striker was completely starved of service.
“The best team won. We weren’t anywhere near the side that beat Everton. We gave the ball away far too often and we should look after it better.” – Steve Bruce
“That’s the difficulty we have. We go up and down too much. In the 15 months I’ve been here, we have a string of good performances and then we have games like tonight when we’re not ourselves.” – Steve Bruce
Whether Wilson can continue to reward his ownership in upcoming favourable matches against Aston Villa (away), West Bromwich Albion (home), Leeds (away) and Fulham (home), is now dependent on two factors.
Firstly, can Newcastle get back to the sort of performance they showed against Everton in Gameweek 7, characterised by pace in wide areas rather than through the middle.
And, secondly, it also hinges upon whether or not Wilson can recover from a hamstring injury sustained in the closing stages of Friday night. The striker does have the international break to recover, although the severity of the issue is not yet known.
“We’ll not know how bad it is until we get him scanned. We hope that it’s not too bad but we’ll see. It was a hamstring injury.” – Steve Bruce
Southampton XI (4-4-2): A McCarthy; J Stephens, Vestergaard, Bednarek, Walker-Peters; Djenepo (Redmond 74′), Ward-Prowse, Romeu, Armstrong; Walcott (S Long 88′), Adams.
Newcastle United XI (5-3-2): Darlow; Lewis, Fernández, Lascelles, Schär, Murphy (Joelinton 79′); Almirón, Hendrick (M Longstaff 61′), S Longstaff; Saint-Maximin, Wilson (Carroll 78′).
Lessons Learned from FPL Gameweek 8
- Brighton and Hove Albion 0-0 Burnley
- Southampton 2-0 Newcastle United
- Everton 1-3 Manchester United
- Crystal Palace 4-1 Leeds United
- Chelsea 4-1 Sheffield United
- West Ham United 1-0 Fulham
- West Bromwich Albion 0-1 Tottenham Hotspur
- Leicester City 1-0 Wolves
- Manchester City 1-1 Liverpool
- Arsenal 0-3 Aston Villa