Leeds United and Newcastle United will be on the lookout for their first win of the season in the Premier League when they face off this Friday.

Matchweek 5 of the 2021/22 Premier League kicks off on Friday night at St. James’ Park as Newcastle United welcome fellow strugglers Leeds United with both clubs hoping to pick up their first win of the season.

Newcastle United find themselves rooted to the 19th spot in the league table, having managed to collect just one point from four games so far, with their latest game ending in a 4-1 beating at the hands of Manchester United at Old Trafford last weekend. Given the way things are, there has been a lot of criticism towards the club while Steve Bruce has once again come under pressure as he hopes to spark a turnaround.

Leeds United, meanwhile, are stationed in the 17th spot in the table, a point above their Friday’s opponents. Defence has been an issue for the Whites, having already let in 11 goals from four games, following their 3-0 loss to Liverpool. After enjoying a fine season on return to the Premier League last term, Marcelo Bielsa & co. will now be hoping to turn the tide around and get the season back on track.

The corresponding fixture last season saw Leeds United pick up a 2-1 win over Newcastle with goals coming from Raphinha and Jack Harrison on either side of half-time. The Hard Tackle now takes a closer look at both teams as they get set to clash at St. James’ Park on Friday night.

Team News & Tactics

Newcastle United

Newcastle United have had some degree of respite with regard to injuries as Ryan Fraser has returned to training while the trio of Ciaran Clark, Joe Willock and Javi Manquillo are all expected to be available after picking up minor issues last time out. However, Martin Dubravka, Jonjo Shelvey, Paul Dummett, and key man Callum Wilson remain unavailable for selection.

Steve Bruce is once again expected to set up in a 5-4-1 formation, put men behind the ball and hope to hit Leeds United on the break, utilising the pace of Allan Saint-Maximin, who will start as the lone forward. He will have support from the two wide attackers in the form of Miguel Almiron and Joelinton, both of whom will present a goal threat.

Sean Longstaff ought to perform the holding role in the middle of the park ahead of Isaac Hayden, who is said to have had a run-in with manager Bruce. Joe Willock should slot in alongside him. The former Arsenal midfielder will look to push forward and add numbers in attack when the Magpies do have the ball.

The backline is unlikely to see any changes either, with Manquillo and Matt Ritchie lining up as the two full-backs on the right and left sides, respectively, whereas Jamaal Lascelles, Federico Fernandez and Fabian Schar operate as the three centre-halves. Freddie Woodman, who did not have the best of games against Manchester United last time out, will continue in goal.

Probable Lineup (5-4-1): Woodman; Manquillo, Fernandez, Lascelles, Schar, Ritchie; Almiron, Willock, Longstaff, Joelinton; Saint-Maximin

Leeds United

Leeds United will be without four players for the trip to Newcastle. Marcelo Bielsa will be unable to call upon Adam Forshaw, Diego Llorente and Robin Koch due to fitness and injury concerns. Pascal Struijk is suspended after being sent off in the defeat to Liverpool for his dangerous tackle on Harvey Elliott.

Bielsa will set his team up in the usual 4-1-4-1 setup with Illan Meslier manning the goal, where he will be shielded by the centre-back pairing of Luke Ayling and captain Liam Cooper. The former moving into the heart of the backline means Stuart Dallas could drop in at right-back for this game while new signing Junior Firpo features on the left.

The full-back duo will have the license to push forward and combine with the two wingers, Raphinha and Jack Harrison, to help create chances for the team. Kalvin Phillips will have a key role to essay at the base of the midfield with his ability to break-up play and set his attack-minded teammates on their way with sharp forward passes.

Rodrigo Moreno and Mateusz Klich should be the two attacking midfielders for Leeds who will look to push forward constantly and play close to the centre-forward, Patrick Bamford around the Newcastle box.

Probable Lineup (4-1-4-1): Meslier; Dallas, Ayling, Cooper, Firpo; Phillips; Raphinha, Rodrigo, Klich, Harrison; Bamford

Key Stats

  • Leeds are vying to win three consecutive league games against Newcastle for the first time since 1967, while they last recorded back-to-back away league victories against the Magpies in 1958.
  • Newcastle have equalled their worst start to a Premier League campaign. This is the sixth time they have taken one point from their opening four matches.
  • Leeds have failed to win any of their opening four top-flight matches for the first time since 1958.
  • Newcastle have only won two of their 13 Premier League games without Callum Wilson since he joined the club a year ago.
  • Newcastle have conceded 12 league goals this season, more than any other side in the Premier League.

Player to Watch

Allan Saint-Maximin

Allan Saint-Maximin will pose a major threat to the Leeds defence (Picture Courtesy - AFP/Getty Images)

Allan Saint-Maximin will pose a major threat to the Leeds defence (Picture Courtesy – AFP/Getty Images)

The French attacker is without a question Newcastle United’s best and most important player in the absence of Callum Wilson. Saint-Maximin showed how dangerous he can be on the break in the game against Manchester United with his pace, control and power. With Leeds United having found to keep things tight at the back, the Magpies star could spell great trouble for the visitors on Friday night.

Prediction

Newcastle United 1-2 Leeds United

As iterated earlier, Leeds United’s issues at the back mean Newcastle will be in with a chance to score. However, the absence of Callum Wilson means they might not be well-equipped to take those chances. On the other hand, Leeds United are a team that are much more dangerous going forward, which might hand them the slightest of edges heading into Friday’s encounter.

The Hard Tackle predicts a 2-1 win for Marcelo Bielsa & co. getting them off the mark for the new Premier League season.

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