Newcastle United’s quest to return to the Premier League at the first time of asking, continues on Sunday at Elland Road.
It couldn’t be a tougher match for the Magpies to get back into the swing of things. Leeds United are sixth in table, winning their last three including an impressive 3 – 2 win at Norwich. The match is promising to be Newcastle’s toughest test since beating Norwich 4 – 3 at St James Park.
Unbeaten at Elland Road since 1999, Newcastle are 20/21 with Sun Bets to win this weekend. It’s hardly surprising as the come into the match on the back of a seven-match winning streak in the Championship, conceding just six goals.
Jonjo Shelvey, pivotal in Newcastle’s surge to the top of the table, is available, having denied the FA’s misconduct charge relating to allegations that he used racially motivated language during the 2 – 0 defeat at home to Wolves in September.
If found guilty, he faces a five-match ban which would cause Rafa Benitez a problem. Consistency has been Shelvey’s problem in the past as he struggled to live up to the media hype after signing for Liverpool aged 18. This season, he has found a groove and believes that if he continues playing this well, he could be in line for an England call-up.
Another who might be looking in that direction is Dwight Gayle. England’s woes in front of goal. He is in his most prolific run of scoring as a professional with 11 goals in 12 Championship games. If he continues to bang in the goals at that rate, it will be a phenomenal season for a striker who is more used to being on the periphery than leading the line.
Both managers have praised the opposition’s supporters and Elland Road is expected to be a cauldron on Sunday. Leeds, inspired and in front of their own fans, are a force to be reckoned with but if Newcastle can keep them at bay for the opening twenty to thirty minutes, the infectious enthusiasm of the faithful will be dampened.
The Toon Army expects Newcastle to win and their support has been pivotal in the XI’s success on the road. Since the wake-up call of losing to Fulham at Craven Cottage on the opening day, the Magpies have won six and drawn one of the seven games. A lesson well-learned judging by the results.
Winning on Sunday is crucial to re-igniting the flame of the promotion charge. The disruption of the international break lost the momentum built; it’s up to the players to get back into their stride quickly.