For the first time since 1988, Southampton ended a day in first place in England's top soccer division.

The Saints achieved the feat on Friday without their best player.

Southampton overcame the absence of injured top scorer Danny Ings to beat Newcastle United 2-0 in the Premier League, with Che Adams and Stuart Armstrong scoring at St. Mary's.

Since opening with back-to-back losses, including a humiliating 5-2 thrashing at home to Tottenham Hotspur, the Saints have won five of their six games and drawn the other one at Chelsea.

"It is a little scary what we are doing at the moment, to be honest," Southampton's Austrian manager Ralph Hasenhuttl said.

It's quite the turnaround for the team, but that's nothing new.

Last season, they lost 9-0 at home to Leicester on one of the darkest days in the club's history, but managed to regroup and finish the season as one of the form teams after the restart.

Southampton, who are ahead of champions Liverpool on goal difference, last topped the English top-flight standings on September 16, 1988.

"Our fans will love it and they'll make a picture of the table," Hasenhuttl said.

"For us, it's nice but it shouldn't kill the hunger for more.

"We should stay hungry and we should feel anything is possible with this team."

Earlier on Friday, Socceroos goalkeeper Mat Ryan was back in goal for Brighton & Hove Albion after he was left on the bench last weekend for "tactical reasons" by manager Graham Potter.

The Seagulls draw 0-0 with Burnley who picked up a much-needed point as they moved off the bottom of the table.

Ryan missed a league game for Brighton for the first time in almost two years, when they faced Tottenham Hostpur, with Potter feeling the Socceroos No.1 needed a "breather" .

Ryan only had one real moment of alarm in a predictably drab affair against Burnley when Matt Lowton's deep cross sailed over him but ended up hitting the crossbar.

Burnley moved above Sheffield United while Brighton are 16th.