Back Newcastle to halt Saints’ march

SOUTHAMPTON have been this season’s surprise package and the Saints are a short price to slay Newcastle on Saturday.

Ronald Koeman’s men can be backed at no bigger than 13/10 to take all three points on Tyneside.

But I’ve a feeling the Toon can upset the form book here. Backing the hosts, at 23/10 with Betway, is a far more tempting option.

It is has been an up and down opening half to the campaign for them, and their form hasn’t been good in John Carver’s three games in the hot seat since Alan Pardew’s departure.

They were beaten 2-0 at Chelsea last time out, following an FA Cup loss at Leicester, and a 3-3 draw with Burnley in their most recent home game on New Year’s Day.

However, the Newcastle players looked like they were really playing for the caretaker boss against Chelsea last time out.

This could also be a good time to face Southampton. The South Coast side were in action mid-week against Ipswich in an FA Cup third round replay and only just sneaked past them with a 1-0 win.

And the victory came at a cost, with influential midfielder Victor Wanyama suffering a hamstring injury that looks set to rule him out for at least a month.

The Kenyan has been a key cog in Koeman’s machine. He’s not the only important player missing either, with fellow first-teamers Morgan Schneiderlin and Toby Alderweireld, as well as £10m summer signing Sadio Mane, all sidelined.

While Newcastle have also suffered with injuries, the return of Tim Krul is a major boost.

I’m willing to overlook the Geordies’ lapses in the last two runnings of this contest.

Southampton won 4-0 at St Mary’s in September and recorded the same scoreline at the same venue towards the end of last season.

When looking at head-to-heads in the North East you have to go back to March 1997, when Matt Le Tissier netted the only goal of the game, to find the Saints’ last win.

During the interim there have been two 1-1 draws and nine home wins in all competitions that have produced a 26-8 aggregate score in Newcastle’s favour.

Given that those 11 encounters have mustered an average 3.09 goals-per-game, I would advise buying total goals at 2.65 with Sporting Index.

■ Pointers…
Newcastle at 23/10 with Betway
Buy total goals at 2.65 with Sporting Index