It’s the first of a home double-header this weekend as we host Newcastle United on Sunday afternoon (3pm kick off).
Saints are in action at St Mary’s twice in the space of four days, following up the visit of the Magpies with a game against Norwich City on Wednesday.
Manager Nigel Adkins will see these next two fixtures as a massive opportunity to continue the recent run that has seen his team take four points from a possible six in games against Swansea City and Queens Park Rangers.
Depending on results elsewhere this weekend, victory against Newcastle could take Saints out of the relegation zone and provide concrete evidence that their revival is well and truly underway after a stuttering start to the campaign.
The Toon went into this weekend’s round of matches sitting 12th in the top-flight standings with 14 points from their first 12 games. They are still looking for their first away win of the season, having drawn four and lost one of their five fixtures on the road.
Our visitors are currently on a run of five games without a win, including back-to-back Premier League defeats against West Ham United and Swansea City.
The latest result in that disappointing sequence came on Thursday evening, as Newcastle played out a 1-1 draw with Portuguese side C.S. Marítimo at St James’ Park.
Saints have no new injuries on the back of last week’s win over QPR, so Nigel Adkins could name an unchanged starting XI for the third consecutive game.
Richard Chaplow and Frazer Richardson are still out, but Gastón Ramírez will be fine despite coming off at Loftus Road with a bout of cramp.
Newcastle have a number of injury concerns going into Sunday’s game, with Hatem Ben Arfa became the latest player to be ruled out after limping off during the first half of Thursday’s draw with Marítimo with a hamstring problem.
Dan Gosling (ankle), Ryan Taylor, Haris Vuckic (both knee), Shola Amerobi and Yohan Cabaye (both groin) are all ruled out of the visit to St Mary’s.
Striker Papiss Cissé is 50/50, having been substituted just after half time on Thursday evening with a thigh complaint.
With a number of attackers out injured, former Southampton youth-teamer Nile Ranger could be involved after returning from lay-off of his own to score for Newcastle’s Under-21s in a 2-2 draw with Sunderland on Monday.
Ranger is not the only former Saint in the Toon squad. Defender Mike Williamson joined Southampton as an 18 year old in November 2001, but did not make a first team appearance during his time with the Club before joining Wycombe Wanderers in 2005 after a successful season-long loan at Adams Park.
It’s more than six-and-a-half years since we last faced Newcastle United.
Having been relegated from the top flight the previous year, we travelled to St James’ in February 2006 for an FA Cup fifth-round game in which Kieron Dyer’s goal was enough to give the hosts a 1-0 win.
Our recent record against the Toon Army is not the most impressive, with our last eight meetings with Sunday’s opponents ending in defeats or draws.
However, a 3-0 FA Cup loss to Newcastle at St Mary’s in January 2004 was our first home defeat at their hands in more than 30 years.
We last overcame the Magpies 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, we have faced Newcastle 84 times in competitive matches. 31 of those have ended in Saints victories, while 34 have gone the way of our opponents and 19 have been drawn.
Sunday’s referee is Martin Atkinson, while Peter Kirkup and Mark Scholes will assist him. Lee Probert will act as fourth official.
Tickets for the match remain on sale, and can be purchased online, over the telephone on 02381 780780 or directly from the St Mary’s Ticket Office.
If you’re coming to the game, we are looking for your photos for the next edition of our official matchday programme.
Our favourite photo will win a special prize, so get snapping – remember: the more creative, original and imaginative pictures are most likely to catch our eye!
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.
Nigel Adkins and Nathaniel spoke to Saints Player ahead of the game, and you can watch their interviews – as well as their full press conferences – now.