Newcastle United vs Leicester City
Venue: St James’ Park
TV: BT Sport 1
The BT cameras will be present at St James’ Park come Saturday evening as Newcastle United host Leicester City in a battle for a vital 3 points. This is the beginning of a busy Christmas period for both and 3 points would be a heart-warming gift for either Foxes or Magpies fans.
Rafa Benitez’s side have struggled for form as of late and after a prosperous beginning to their campaign they have flagged off and been far off the pace in recent few weeks. As for their counterparts on Saturday, they are the polar-opposites to Newcastle’s this season. The Foxes struggled to make any ground in the early season but did face tough fixtures against four of the current top six in their first six games. Since then they haven’t looked back and although this period seen the sacking of Craig Shakespeare, Claude Puel has since took the reins and the club have lost only one game in their last ten. In comparison to their opposites this Saturday, the Magpies have only won one game in ten, a horrendous record for Rafa and Co.
With reference to 90MAAT’s midweek article of Puels tactic of keeping things quiet and getting on with his job, there have been many who have been impressed with the work the Frenchman is doing down at the King Power. But, a trip to Newcastle in the winter months under the lights is no easy fixture.
Newcastle United Team News
Since the injury of Jamaal Lascelles at home to Bournemouth, Newcastle have conceded 12 goals in four games. They are in desperate urgency for the captains return but he is still lacking match fitness and will unlikely take part on Saturday. This is good news for Jamie Vardy who will be relishing Saturday evenings fixture.
Paul Dummett is also lacking match fitness but is close to being available. Dwight Gayle started as lone top man against Chelsea with Joselu being chosen to lead the line against West Brom the gameweek befpre. Benitez has clearly struggled to choose between the two and may decide to place both in the starting XI against Leicester. Aleksandar Mitrovic will also provide cover in attack if necessary.
Karl Darlow has been selected over Rob Elliot in Newcastle’s last two fixtures and it will be interesting to see who Rafa decides to stick between the sticks. Jonjo Shelvey is another individual who has been situated on the bench by Benitez in the last two fixtures and will certainly be in contention come Saturday evening.
Leicester City Team News
After the rewarding 1-0 victory against Burnley last weekend, Puel may name an unchanged side for the trip to St James’. There are no fresh injury concerns for the Foxes with Robert Huth and Matty James being the only absentees and no indication of when their returns may be.
Christian Fuchs is again available but Puel’s confidence in youngster Ben Chilwell against the Clarets paid off and it will be difficult to drop the England u21 international to the subs bench. Demari Gray was deployed in the number 10 role against Burnley at the weekend and maybe placed in this position once more after the success of Mahrez and Albrighton on either wing. Shinji Okazaki is likely to be left out once more and Kelechi Iheanacho will also provide coverage up top for the Foxes.
Wes Morgan claimed during the week that a positive start at St James’ Park will be hugely important for his side in a period where the foxes will face seven games. Another 3 points would put Leicester onto 23 points after 16 games.
Scoreline: Newcastle 0 Leicester 2 – Leicester are in good form and have enjoyed 4 victories over their counterparts in their last 5 meetings. On form, there is no debate on the outcome of Saturdays fixture but form is not the way results always go. Benitez needs a result and so do Newcastle as they find themselves slipping closer to the bottom three but for me Leicester will overcome Newcastle on Saturday.