Newcastle United have a chance in midweek to drag themselves away from the relegation dogfight as they host Leeds United at St James’ Park.
The Toon come into Tuesday evening’s clash in absolutely horrendous form but are coming up against a Leeds side who are somewhat low on confidence themselves.
Despite a somewhat promising start to the campaign in which Steve Bruce’s men lost four of their opening 11 league games, Newcastle are now in the midst of a horrendous run of form that has seen them plummet towards the relegation zone. The Magpies are winless in eight league games, having lost their last four, with two places, and seven points, now separating the club and the drop zone. Albeit, their situation could look even more precarious should Fulham win their game in hand. It is not just the losing run that is concerning though, it is the manner in which Newcastle are being defeated which is the most worrying. They have not scored a goal in any of their last three games against Sheffield United, Arsenal and Aston Villa and should they fail to find the net once again, it will be the first time that Newcastle have fired blanks in four consecutive Premier League games since 2015. That impotence should not really not be a surprise however considering that just Burnley and the bottom three clubs have scored fewer goals than Newcastle this season.
Bruce still has problems defensively, with a number of players ruled out. Paul Dummett, Federico Fernandez and DeAndre Yedlin are all set to be restricted to the sidelines, whilst Javi Manquillo and Ciaran Clark are both doubts with a calf injury and COVID-19 related symptoms respectively. Emil Krafth could be called upon to slot into the backline, with Isaac Hayden continuing to deputise.
For all of the plaudits that Leeds have deservedly earnt in their first season back in the Premier League, Leeds’ form has just started to turn – and not for the better. Marcelo Bielsa’s have lost six out of their last nine matches in all competitions including the last three. They now head to St James’ Park aiming to avoid three consecutive league defeats for the first time since the 2017/18 season. Much like Newcastle, their recent struggles could be put down to not being able to find the net. They have not scored a league goal so far in 2021, with the last strike being provided by Raphinha in the 5-0 thumping of West Bromwich Albion at the back end of December. This impotence coupled with a defence that has been the second leakiest in the league thus far having conceded 34 goals could potentially be a recipe for a disaster throughout the second-half of the campaign. Whilst they should avoid any relegation trouble, they will not want their season to fizzle out.
Ilian Meslier should be fine to return to the starting line-up having missed the defeat to Brighton and Hove Albion last time out through illness. This means that Kiko Casilla will drop out. Gaeteno Berardi, Adam Forshaw and Robin Koch all remain out.
Key Facts To Consider
The two teams have a relatively even all-time head-to-head record (39 Newcastle wins, 38 Leeds wins, 18 draws)
Leeds won the last game between the two teams 5-2
Leeds haven’t won at St James’ Park since a 2-0 win in September 2002
Leeds haven’t managed to do the double over Newcastle in a league season since the 1975/76 campaign
No side in the Premier League has taken fewer points than Newcastle in the last five games
For two sides who are coming into the game in woeful form and not managing to score goals, a win really could spark their season alive once more. Neither side will be hugely confident of earning the three points so it could be a slender one at St James’ Park, with Leeds just getting the better of the hosts.
Prediction: Leeds United to win 1-0