Newcastle United v Southampton: Hasenhuttl can take a point to increase Bruce pressure

Newcastle United v Southampton: Hasenhuttl can take a point to increase Bruce pressure

Lack of transfer activity and points a worry for Bruce

A bottom three position for Newcastle alongside Norwich and Arsenal is less than an ideal start for Steve Bruce – a manager who constantly seems to face calls to be axed. Coupled with a lack of transfer activity, it points to a 2.588/5 price in the relegation market on the Betfair Exchange.

This week’s Carabao Cup exit at the hands of Burnley was the second time in three years they’ve gone early in the competition and they are still without a point from their two Premier League games, which has happened now in four of the last six seasons, but haven’t lost each of their first three to a league campaign since 1999-00 under Ruud Gullit. Their third league game of that campaign was also against Southampton.

Tyneside legend Chris Waddle made an excellent point this week, suggesting you can name nine of the starting 11 every game due to the lack of competition. The caller to BBC 5 Live is unlikely to find solace either, saying he “will not accept another season of mediocrity”. At the moment, with just one signing of Joe Willock, it seems to be heading that way.

Their defensive frailties from last term reared their ugly head again following the opening day 2-4 hammering by West Ham. That probably says a lot about the Londoners and their ascent currently under Moyes, but sloppy mistakes are still there and the backline is crying out for a mobile defender. The 60-year-old Bruce also needs a holding midfielder as they are far too open when teams get at them.

Hasenhuttl pleased with United response

Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl gave a little fist pump following last weekend’s 1-1 home draw against Manchester United, an excellent response from his team following their opening 3-1 loss at Everton.

One point from two games matches up with Newcastle’s record almost, but they’ve been better than the Magpies. At Goodison, Adam Armstrong showed why he can cut it at this level (and a former Toon man) following his £15m arrival and he linked with well with Che Adams and the Saints went for some goals in quite an attacking and open first-half.

Defensively again they collapsed slightly in the second 45, but there were enough positives in the first half for some hope.

Hasenhuttl Celebrating 1280.jpg

They could have won the game against Manchester United with Armstrong spurning a guilt-edged chance, but it was a step forward according to the manager.

Hasenhuttl raided Everton to sign highly-promising teenager Thierry Small this week, although fellow new capture Lycano from Torino is unlikely to feature this Saturday.

However, the best nugget of transfer business appears to be 18-year-old defender Tino Livramento at right-back. He has looked superb down the flanks, both defensively and as an attacking force in both of his games so far. A real gem.

With Newcastle in a perpetual state of doom and gloom, a market price of 2.68/5 as the favourites in the Match Odds represents quite poor value in my opinion.

Those odds might be influenced by their fantastic record historically according to Opta stats; as Newcastle have lost just one of their last 16 home Premier League games against Southampton (W12 D3), going down 2-1 in January 2015. The Magpies have won their last four home Premier League matches against Saints. So perhaps that’s why, but it isn’t a bet or a price I can entertain. Not at all.

Southampton played so well last weekend, my initial thought was that they could be a bet. But the 2.942/1 price is a little short, and my golden rule in betting is not to take something you think should be bigger. I would want at least 3.211/5, which might happen In-Play, as Hasenhuttl’s men have dropped 62 points since he took charge from winning positions – 12 more than any other term. There could be a fancy trade to lay 2.942/1 and back at a bigger price during the game.

Saints have also lost 11 of their last 12 Premier League away games (W1), including each of the last six in a row. They last lost seven consecutive away league games between November 2004 and February 2005, in the season they were relegated from the Premier League. That’s another Opta stat to keep us away from the 2.942/1, and they were dreadful away from home after Boxing Day last term – winning just once against Sheffield United and failing to score in eight games in that sequence post Christmas.

I would rather play the draw at 3.55 considering the head-to-head (plus I fancy neither team outright). They have 16 wins apiece, have scored 65 to 63 goals and only one clean sheet separates the duo in their tussles (seven against eight). Bruce can’t afford to lose a home game at the moment and will be happy to take a point, while Southampton’s away worries need to be shored up.

The back of the draw also gives us an option to trade out at around 35 minutes

If Newcastle play as openly at times as they did against the Hammers, we could have some goals on our hands. Hasenhuttl is wary of the hosts and their attacking front three of Callum Wilson, Allan Saint-Maximim and Matt Ritchie. ASM caused Southampton all sorts of problems in the 3-2 win last season, while Ritchie has created nine chances in the Premier League this term – only Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold has bettered that with 10.

Backing the Draw and an Anytime Assist from Saint-Maximim is a huge price on the Betbuilder double at just over 16/1. Throwing in the option of a Ritchie assist and the Draw, that’s even bigger at 29/1. I think both bets could give us a run for our money at split stakes.

If we have the fireworks from last season’s game at St James’ Park, backing the 3-2 is priced at 32.031/1 on the Correct Score market, and a couple of early goals will give a chance to trade out to garner a green book.