Rafael Benitez and Newcastle United are still waiting for their first win of the season after they battled to a dour 0-0 draw at fellow Premier League strugglers Southampton.
Newcastle went into Saturday’s contest bottom of the table with just two points to their name, a close-season dominated by Benitez’s complaints over a lack of transfer funds followed by a tricky start that has seen them face five of last season’s top six in their opening nine games.
However, last weekend’s 1-0 home loss to Brighton and Hove Albion did little to suggest results will improve against a lower calibre of opposition and they were second best throughout against a Southampton side that has found life similarly difficult so far this campaign.
Mohamed Elyounoussi and Mario Lemina had the best chances to give Southampton a result few would have argued with but, after a frustrating first half, they ran out of ideas and were left to settle for a stalemate that will not do much to ease the pressure on Mark Hughes.
Southampton started much the brighter of the two sides and only Martin Dubravka prevented them from taking an early lead.
The Newcastle goalkeeper denied Elyounoussi after Ryan Bertrand’s effort deflected into his path and then turned a Charlie Austin drive behind.
Newcastle did eventually settle into the contest but offered precious little as an attacking force and were fortunate to see Lemina strike the left-hand post with a flicked effort from Bertrand’s low cross. Dubravka ensured parity was maintained just before the break as he scrambled to his left to keep out Jack Stephens’ header from a left-wing corner.
Southampton huffed and puffed in a second half in which Newcastle were much more comfortable, with Bertrand seeing a goal-bound effort blocked, Lemina lashing over and Shane Long firing wide as the hosts were left to rue their earlier missed chances while Newcastle face the ignominy of having their winless run stretch into November.
It ends goalless at St Mary’s. pic.twitter.com/rRKJGDuHUX
— Southampton FC (@SouthamptonFC) October 27, 2018
What does it mean?
Magpies stay ground as Saints miss opportunity
The goalless draw is a better result for Newcastle than it is for Southampton, but only moves them 19th, still with a zero in the win column and above Huddersfield Town on goal difference only. Southampton go two points clear of the bottom three but, even at this early juncture in the season, will view this as a missed opportunity to put some breathing room between themselves and the drop zone.
Bertrand brilliance goes to waste
While their visitors struggled to create anything going forward, Southampton appeared dangerous whenever they attacked, particularly down the left-hand side, where Bertrand was the primary outlet. The full-back was at the heart of Southampton’s best opportunities and, on another day, his performance would have been rewarded with the crucial three points Southampton deserved.
Newcastle toothless on their travels
Despite their extremely poor start to the season Newcastle had, until recently, done a decent job of finding the back of the net. However, after an uninspiring display in which Yoshinori Muto was the only player to look lively going forward, the Magpies have now failed to score in four of their last five games. Their lack of quality in the final third was stark and, should they end the season in their current position, that will likely be the chief reason why.
Southampton have an EFL Cup tie with Leicester City to contend with on Tuesday before the daunting trip to champions Manchester City next Sunday. A pair of home fixtures are on the horizon for winless Newcastle, but they come against two of the league’s in-form sides in Watford and Bournemouth.
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