Southampton-Newcastle United Preview
By TOM BENNETT
STATS European Football Writer
(AP) -- LONDON (SE) - Newcastle United welcome Southampton to St James' Park on Sunday afternoon with both sides looking to improve their Premier League survival hopes.
The teams were just four points outside the drop zone going into the last round of fixtures, but have been in strong recent form.Alan Pardew's Newcastle (5-9-12) have won two of their last three in the league, and beat Metalist Kharkiv in the Europa League in midweek to continue their 2013 resurgence.
"We have got two very important Premier League games and if we could get three, four points out of those two games, I would take that now," said manager Alan Pardew. "It would give us a good angle to go into the next phase of the Europa League.
"Southampton have definitely picked up and they play a high pressing game which we are going to have to combat. There are some good players there and I am looking forward to seeing them. They got the result over us the last time and they thoroughly deserved it, so we need to perform a lot better than we did at their place."
Southampton (6-9-11) produced one of the performances of the season with a 3-1 win over Manchester City last time out, and have been beaten just once in their last nine league games. However, midfielder Morgan Scheiderlin is still wary of the threat of Sunday's hosts.
"There have been a lot of smiles since the City game," said the 23-year-old. "We enjoyed that game and the week following it, but now that's the past. If we can get a result at Newcastle that would be even better, so the hardest part is still to come. Hopefully we can pick up some points.
"It's a huge game, but the pressure is on them. We beat them at home and this game is at their place so they have to take three points. We're going to go there and play our game so hopefully we can win - if we play at the level we have over the past couple of games then I'm sure we will."
Newcastle have doubts over Yohan Cabaye (knee), Tim Krul (ankle), Cheick Tiote (illness), Yoan Gouffran (hamstring) and Hatem Ben Arfa (hamstring), but Ryan Taylor (knee) remains out. Southampton have doubts over Danny Fox (ankle), Luke Shaw (ankle), Gaston Ramirez (hip), Guilherme do Prado (knee) and Jose Fonte (knee).
The Saints haven't won any of their last nine games at St James' Park, losing eight, and their last win on the ground was back in March 1997, when Matt Le Tissier was the lone goalscorer.
Newcastle had picked up 16 more points at this stage of last season, scoring more goals and conceding fewer. The Magpies have won just one of their last three league games at home.
Southampton won 2-0 against Newcastle at St Mary's in November, the Saints' first win in eight against the Magpies.
Updated February 22, 2013