Red-hot Whites will look to take fight to Toon Army
Sky Bet Championship
Sky Sports 1, 1.15pm
According to Sporting Index’s seasonal points expectations Newcastle are heading for just shy of the century mark and that assessment is difficult to argue with as the Sky Bet Championship leaders aim to move five points clear of the chasing pack at Leeds today.
Rafael Benitez has by far and away the best squad in the division – he can select from 26 players this afternoon with options all over the park – but the Magpies can’t win every game from now until May.
This trip to Elland Road looks to be one of the more difficult assignments and rather than back Newcastle it may be better to take both teams to score.
Pablo Hernandez is unlikely to feature and Liam Bridcutt is out. However, Garry Monk’s squad is boosted by the return to fitness of Stuart Dallas and Eunan O’Kane.
Rolando Aarons has been ruled out for the rest of the season after rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament.
Keeping Newcastle at bay should prove beyond Leeds given the quality Benitez can call upon, with only one of Dwight Gayle and Aleksandar Mitrovic likely to be selected up front in the Spaniard’s preferred 4-2-3-1 shape.
Gayle has scored 11 times already in the league this season, while Serbian striker Mitrovic has notched seven times in his last six matches for club and country.
Newcastle have won their last eight games in all competitions and seven of those fixtures saw the Toon Army celebrate at least twice.
The Magpies have also scored in seven of their eight away matches with the only blank coming on the opening night at Fulham when Benitez was still finalising his squad following relegation. So why not lump on the Geordies?
The answer is that Leeds are among the form teams in the Championship, losing only two of their last ten in the league as well as reaching the EFL Cup quarter-finals.
Newcastle have won all nine matches goalkeeper Karl Darlow has started this season. The win percentage drops to 60 in the ten games started by Matz Sels
Garry Monk was under massive pressure early on after collecting only four points from the first 18 available, but since losing to Huddersfield on September 10, Elland Road has become a fortress.
The 3-2 win at Norwich before the international break highlighted the progress made by Monk and even if this match ends in defeat there is hope of a possible playoff spot at the end of the campaign.
Huddersfield are the only team to have stopped Leeds from scoring at Elland Road this term and Chris Wood has helped himself to 11 goals in all competitions.
There’s pace out wide and this should be an enjoyable game to watch.
Both teams to score
1pt 7-8 188bet