Eighth and ninth go head-to-head in the Barclays Premier League at St Mary’s on Saturday. Kick-off 3pm.
Saints host one of the teams they hope to leapfrog this weekend when the Magpies make the long journey down to the south coast for the first of the seven remaining fixtures for both sides.
Newcastle sit one place and one point above Southampton but with inferior goal difference to Mauricio Pochettino’s men. This is the first of four remaining matches at home for Saints, with the hosts looking to finish the season strongly here as well as bouncing back quickly from last weekend’s setback at Tottenham.
One benchmark Saints will be looking to is equalling the club’s best ever Premier League finish of eighth place and 52 points under Gordon Strachan, with Pochettino’s side currently one place and seven points shy of repeating that feat.
Saints have lost only four times on home soil, though there is little to choose between the team’s home and away record this term.
Newcastle have won seven times away from home – as many as leaders Chelsea – but have also lost more times on the road than any other team in the top nine.
It could be argued that Newcastle are a more effective team on the road, with their ability to hit teams on the counter-attack somewhat nullified when they are the team making the running at their St James’ Park home, where some of their more disappointing results have come.
Loic Remy’s fitness has been crucial to Newcastle’s results this season and with the Frenchman struggling with an injury of late, Papiss Cisse and on-loan striker Luuk De Jong may have a key role to play in a 4-4-1-1 formation.
Newcastle manager Alan Pardew has his stadium ban lifted, but will not be allowed to return to the sidelines as he makes his second visit to St Mary’s since leaving the club in 2010.
In the three games he has missed, the Magpies have lost twice and won once under the guidance of assistant coach John Carver.
One of the players who worked under Pardew at Saints, Morgan Schneiderlin is a doubt to play after missing last weekend’s defeat at Spurs, but should he come through in time to play, then he will make his 200th league appearance for the club.
Jack Cork made an earlier-than-expected comeback in the game at Tottenham, with the midfielder replacing Morgan Schneiderlin, who missed out with a knock sustained in training.
Schneiderlin, Victor Wanyama, Jay Rodriguez, Steven Davis are doubts, whilst Guly do Prado and Kelvin Davis who both missed the game at Spurs, are unlikely to return for this weekend. Maya Yoshida is out with knee ligament damage, whilst Nathaniel Clyne has also emerged as injury concern.
Newcastle goalkeeper Tim Krul is out with a knee injury whilst Loic Remy is a doubt. Luuk De Jong is expected to support Papiss Cisse in attack for the visitors.
Full-back Davide Santon has recovered from a bout of tonsillitis and is in contention for selection, however Santon's fellow defender Mathieu Debuchy, remains on the sidelines with a groin problem.
“How many teams in the lower half of the table would want to be in our position?
“The reality of this team is that we’ve had some problems lately and the whole season has been quite demanding so that’s reduced the number of fully-fit players we have, but the motivation is always there.
“It’s clear that we are a young side are we are prone to making mistakes, but we’re going to learn from them.”
“Southampton have had a fantastic season but we're still above them and we want to stay there.
"It's a battle that I think both sides are looking at and when you are around about each other in the table you want to prove that you are better. I was there at Tottenham recently and Southampton were terrific and really should have got something out of the game. I know they are looking forward to the game as well.
"We are above them at the minute. We have had a season where we have lost a big player halfway through and we have had nowhere near the funding that Southampton have got, so in some ways you could argue we have been battling against the tide here a little bit."
During December the two teams played out a 1-1 draw in the north-east. Yoan Gouffran put Newcastle in front in the first half, before Jay Rodriguez levelled up with his seventh goal of the season in the second 45.
Last year both teams earned wins in their respective home games, with Saints tasting a 4-2 defeat at St James’ Park as the hosts exact their revenge on a 2-0 reverse at St Mary’s earlier in the campaign.
Morgan Schneiderlin gave Saints an early lead at St James’ before Newcastle went 2-1 up at half-time. Rickie Lambert’s 100th goal for Southampton levelled things up again until Yohan Cabaye’s effort and a Jos Hooiveld own goal sealed a win for the home side.
Those meetings were the first in six and a half years, with the previous league contests coming during the 2004/05 campaign, in which the Geordies completed a double of 2-1 victories.
Prior to last season, the last time Saints overcame the Magpies was in the final game of the 2001/02 season, when goals from Anders Svensson, James Beattie and Paul Telfer helped Saints to a 3-1 victory despite Taher El Khalej being sent off just before the hour mark.
Overall, there have been 87 meetings between the two teams, with Newcastle winning 35 of those matches to Saints’ 32, and 20 games ending in a draw.
Andre Marriner will referee Saturday’s game, and he will be assisted by Mr P Bankes and Mr D Bryan. Mr L Probert is the fourth official.
Be aware of ongoing rail engineering works taking place on weekends at Southampton Central. Click here to check which lines are affected.
As with every First Team game, we'll be providing minute-by-minute coverage throughout the day on our official Twitter feed plus goal updates on our official Facebook page.
You can listen to live commentary courtesy of BBC Solent on Saints Player, where you can keep up to date with all the stats and scores from around the country.
Mauricio Pochettino and Jose Fonte spoke to Saints Player ahead of the game, and you can watch their interviews, as well as the press conferences in full on our video channel before the game.
After the match there will be plenty more content on saintsfc.co.uk and Saints Player, so stay tuned!
And if you’re coming to the game, don’t forget to take your smartphones and join in with #MarchingIn on our social media channels. Tweet us @SouthamptonFC or comment on our official Facebook page and upload images onto Instagram with the #MarchingIn for a chance to appear in a future edition of our Matchday Magazine.