It is shaping up to be an early six-pointer at St James’ Park tonight. Leeds United are the visitors and neither side have managed to pick up three points this season.
If either side loses, they will be quickly portrayed as a huge candidate for relegation. For us, a defeat will likely create a poisonous atmosphere in the stadium and it could be the latest hit to Steve Bruce’s job security.
Below we name our predicted eleven:
Karl Darlow – The goalkeeper has been struggling with Covid-19, but he is now back in full training. Freddie Woodman faced criticism following his performance at Old Trafford and it may be best for Darlow to come back into the team. His experience could be a major help in getting a result on Friday.
Javier Manquillo – The Spaniard returned to the team last weekend and managed to get on the scoresheet. He provides more defensive protection than Jacob Murphy and Bruce will want that.
Federico Fernandez – Bruce will want experience in the defence, following the disappointing performance against Manchester United. A recall for Fernandez makes sense.
Jamaal Lascelles – The captain has faced criticism, but we need him in the starting eleven. He needs to improve his performances if we are to start getting positive results.
Ciaran Clark – There seems to be a preference to have a left-footed centre back and Clark is the man in possession of his shirt. Paul Dummett has had a setback, so it means the Irishman has no competition.
Matt Ritchie – It has been a mixed start to the season for Ritchie. He has been weak at the back at times, but he has caused a threat in attack. Leeds struggle at set pieces, therefore Ritchie’s delivery could cause them problems.
Isaac Hayden – After a poor performance at centre back, it makes sense to move Hayden back into midfield. His ball winning ability and energy will be key in preventing Leeds from controlling the game.
Joe Willock – It has been a frustrating start to life back at Newcastle for Willock. It is worth stating that he will still be building up his match fitness. This will be a good game for him to show his attacking quality.
Miguel Almiron – Leeds is the perfect match-up for Almiron. He can struggle against teams with plenty of numbers at the back, but Leeds are open and that creates an opportunity for Almiron to impress. He scored in this fixture last season and after being one of the few to do well last weekend, he could have a part to play in the result.
Allan Saint-Maximin – The Frenchman has started to add consistent end product to his game. His ability to beat opposition defenders means he is a great selection for this match. Under the lights at St James’ Park, there is a chance for him to be the match winner.
Joelinton – The Brazilian remains much maligned. However, Bruce seems to favour him over Dwight Gayle. This is another opportunity for him to impress.
(5-3-2) – Darlow – Manquillo, Fernandez, Lascelles, Clark, Ritchie – Hayden, Willock, Almiron – Saint-Maximin, Joelinton.