Southampton - Newcastle United: Benitez searches for elusive first win

Rafa Benitez takes his Newcastle side to face a strong Southampton side, knowing defeat could be costly.

Southampton - Newcastle United: Benitez searches for elusive first win
Cisse and Wijnaldum were the heroes last time out | Photo: Getty Images

Newcastle United fans that made the long trip south to Carrow Road last weekend will probably be wishing they'd stayed at home instead. A Martin Olsson goal in the 93rd minute gave Norwich City a vital win, which leaves them six points ahead of the Magpies

Can Newcastle get the better of Southampton and finally win under Rafael Benitez

The facts and figures

Newcastle need to stop the rot when it comes to away game defeats; They have lost eight matches in a row when playing away from St. James' Park. If they lose again today, it will match their longest ever losing spell away from home, which dates back to 1977.

The history of this tie will not give fans much hope. Southampton are unbeaten against Newcastle in the last five clashes between the two. To add to this, the Saints have won 14 times against Newcastle, which is more than they have beaten any other team in the league. They have also scored more goals against them than any other opponent.

Southampton are pushing for a European footballing spot for next season and their home form suggests they might just gain one. Ronald Koeman's men have won five of their last seven home games.

Newcastle defenders aren't exactly the tallest and that may prove costly today. The statistics show Chancel Mbemba and Fabricio Coloccini have a very low percentage of headers won this season, whilst Southampton have scored more headed goals than any other side this season.

A defeat for Newcastle

The late defeat last week may prove fateful, as Newcastle now have a mountain to climb. If Norwich travel to Crystal Palace and pick up yet another win, it would mean Newcastle could potentially be nine points adrift from safety with six games to go. 

That may be much of a gap to plug back before the end of the season and it may mean Newcastle fans must be resigned to the fact that Benitez may not be in charge next season.

Can Wijnaldum be the savoir again? | Photo Getty
Can Wijnaldum be the savoir again? | Photo Getty

Keep on believing

Benitez certainly isn't giving up the fight when it comes to reaching Premier League safety. The experienced manager has shrugged off reports he may be in line to take the Spanish national team job after Euro 2016 and has stated he is still committed to his role on Tyneside.

There is also good reason to keep believing surviving is possible. This time last year Leicester City sat rock bottom of the league, seven points from safety. They went on to survive comfortably and are now unbelievably on the cusp of winning the league. Newcastle to be crowned Premier League champions next year, who knows?