Newcastle United go in search of their first win in 11 games on Tuesday night, as Leeds United travel to St James' Park on a poor run of their own.
Steve Bruce’s side are winless in six league games, slipping down the league table in the process. They find themselves 16th going into this game, with the gap between the Magpies and 18th-placed Fulham seven points.
That gap sounds large, but with Fulham improving of late and taking on 17th-placed Brighton on Wednesday, things could get uncomfortable if Newcastle don’t pick up points quickly.
They were awful again on Saturday night, offering little resistance as Aston Villa cruised to a 2-0 win at Villa Park, and must come up with a better game plan that saw them lose 5-2 in the reverse fixture at Elland Road earlier this season.
In fact, that night could be seen as the night when things started to go downhill fast for Steve Bruce, as Newcastle haven’t won a game since, as well as exiting two cup competitions. Fans have lost patience, with flags and banners on show around Newcastle urging the board to do something about the problem they’re facing, and a cabbage appearing impaled on the gates of St James’ Park at the weekend.
Ahead of the game, Bruce refused to speak to written journalists during the pre-match press conference, despite vowing multiple times not to “shy away” from the challenge facing him. One of the questions they’d have asked would be regarding DeAndre Yedlin’s VISA issue, with the club failing to renew his paperwork in time for him to be in the squad for the Villa game.
If that situation is fixed, Yedlin will be in the squad for Leeds, but fellow defenders Ciaran Clark, Federico Fernandez and Paul Dummett are all out with injuries. Javier Manquillo is rated at 50/50 as he continues to feel the effects of COVID.
Electric winger Allan Saint-Maximin got through 20 minutes against Villa but is unlikely to be fit enough to start after just a handful of training sessions since November.
Leeds are starting to get some bodies back after something of an injury crisis, with Diego Llorente available again after a muscular injury. Illan Meslier should replace Kiko Casilla after missing the defeat to Brighton with a knock, but Adam Forshaw, Robin Koch and Gaetano Berardi are long-term absentees.
As mentioned, the Whites aren’t in the best of form right now, having lost their last three games in a row in all competitions, failing to score in the process. With that in mind, a game against Newcastle, who have the worst goal difference of any side outside the bottom two could be perfect, as the likes of Patrick Bamford and Jack Harrison look to repeat the goal scoring performances they managed against the Geordies last time.
Newcastle take on Leeds on Tuesday, January 26th. Kick-off is at 6pm.