Yes, you read that correctly. Newcastle United and top four are being used in the same sentence.
As crazy as it might sound, Newcastle United will shoot up to third place in the Premier League table if they manage to defeat Southampton at St. Mary’s Stadium on Friday. A win would increase the Magpies’ overall tally to 14 points through eight weeks of action.
Steve Bruce’s men are feeling confident heading into this clash after taking four points in two difficult games against Wolverhampton (1-1) and Everton (2-1), but Southampton will present the Toon with a unique challenge. The Saints are one of the most in-form teams at the moment, but the game will be there for the taking, especially if Danny Ings is officially ruled out with a knee injury.
Regardless of who suits up for Southampton, Bruce needs to deploy a strong lineup to give Newcastle United the best chance to win two consecutive games for the first time this season. That being said, here is the lineup that is most capable of defeating Southampton.
Best Possible XI
Steve Bruce will have a lineup dilemma in some areas of the pitch, but Karl Darlow, Federico Fernandez, Jamaal Lascelles, and Jamal Lewis are all guaranteed starters at the moment. The first major dilemma comes at the wing-back slot on the right side. Will it be Javier Manquillo or Jacob Murphy?
Manquillo was seen as the primary option for that role until Murphy began to earn the praises of Bruce, and Murphy should get the nod once again as he offers more for the Toon when they attack. In midfield, Allan Saint-Maximin will be the first name on the team sheet, and joining him on the opposite flank should be Ryan Fraser.
The Scottish international provides Newcastle United with instant offense, and his assist to Callum Wilson last time out needs to be rewarded with a start. The duo in the center should consist of Isaac Hayden and Sean Longstaff. Longstaff put in a good performance against Everton, and Hayden will offer more stability and composure on the ball, which is something Jeff Hendrick needs to work on.
Playing in front of them, and slightly off of the primary striker, should be Miguel Almiron. The Paraguayan has worked tirelessly for the squad on both ends of the pitch, and fans will be hoping to see him get on the score sheet for the first time this season.
Callum Wilson is on fire this season with six goals in seven games, and he will be leading the front line with the aim of adding to his impressive tally. So long as the service is there, Wilson could, once again, carry Newcastle United over the line.
Darlow; Murphy, Fernandez, Lascelles, Lewis; Saint-Maximin, Hayden, Longstaff, Fraser; Almiron, Wilson.