Southampton: This Saints player really needs to step up against Newcastle

Southampton face Newcastle at St Mary’s this afternoon and will be looking to secure three more points on their way to Premier League safety.

A 3-1 loss to West Ham last time out was their fourth loss in five games in all competitions and they will be wanting to recover from a minor blip as Steve Bruce’s side arrive on the South Coast later on.

One player who looks set to start the game is Saints winger Sofiane Boufal.

He was included in the starting 11 last weekend and will surely get another chance to impress today with both Nathan Redmond and Stuart Armstrong unavailable.

Boufal is likely to take one of the attacking-midfield roles along with Moussa Djenepo, and the pair really could provide the creative spark that Saints will need to get a win.

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND – DECEMBER 28: Sofiane Boufal of Southampton takes on James McArthur of Crystal Palace during the Premier League match between Southampton FC and Crystal Palace at St Mary’s Stadium on December 28, 2019 in Southampton, United Kingdom. (Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images)

In many ways, Boufal deserves credit for returning to the club during the summer after a spell out on loan with Celta Vigo in Spain.

Early in this season too, there were more than enough signs that the Moroccan could come back in and prove a real success.

A toe and an ankle injury have affected his momentum at times this campaign but he is back and ready to give Saints something they wouldn’t otherwise have.

However, it can be argued that the numbers that he has produced this year could be improved.

His only goal of the season came back in the FA Cup against Spurs, whilst the most recent of his two assists came against Sheffield United back in September.

Bringing Boufal back into the fold showed great trust from both Ralph Hasenhuttl and the club, and it really is time that he started to produce some consistency.

This is not knocking his ability in any way – he has produced a few really special moments throughout his Saints career despite only scoring five goals and assisting five more since joining in 2016.

This season, he has produced more dribbles than any other Saints player (8th highest in the league) and completed more dribbles that anyone – including Lionel Messi – in La Liga in 2018/19.

No other player at the club can beat a man in quite the same way that he can when on form and every Saints fan will be thoroughly entertained if Boufal can turn it on against Newcastle today.

Next: Saints vs Newcastle: Predicted team line-ups
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