Newcastle v Leeds
BT Sport 1
Newcastle in the doldrums
Despite Steve Bruce’s somewhat catty remarks about his Newcastle team having a similar record to that of the “mighty Rafa”, Toon fans are finding this all rather grim.
A 2-0 defeat to Aston Villa on Saturday made it no wins in 10 games. Seven of those have been defeats, including each of the last three.
The goals have completely dried up too; the latest count, if that’s the right word, is none in the last four.
If looking for excuses, that quartet of goalless games were all on the road so Newcastle will at least enjoy some home comforts having played seven of the last 10 away from St. James’ Park.
Their miserable run started with a 5-2 thumping at Elland Road and the Magpies have managed just a single clean sheet in their last 13 home games. That doesn’t bode well for a side which are usually free scorers on the road.
Leeds could benefit most from break
Ah, yes, “usually free scorers on the road”.
That statement needs addressing right now as, like another well-known team beginning with ‘L’, Leeds United have forgotten how to score.
Marcelo Bielsa’s side are the Premier League’s fourth highest goal-grabbers away from home but they lost 3-0 at both Tottenham in the league and Crawley in the FA Cup.
And the minutes without a goal clock kept ticking as they were fired more blanks in the 1-0 home loss to Brighton.
The perception is that Leeds are fun and Newcastle are dull. That’s fair although, in terms of points, the team in white have only four more than the team in black and white (Leeds have a game in hand).
Victory for the visitors would give them a first league double over the Magpies since the 1975-76 campaign so it’s been a while.
Despite their goal drought, my instinct says Leeds are the ones to be on.
Leeds last played on January 16 so they will have had a 10-day break by the time they go into battle.
If there’s a team that could reap the benefits from such a break it surely has to be Leeds given the amount they run and run.
And yet, Leeds at an odds-on price 1.981/1… hmmm, that hardly appeals.
However, Bielsa’s side tend not to do things by halves. Two of their last three away wins were 5-0 at West Brom and 3-0 at Aston Villa so they tend to twist rather than stick if taking the lead.
I’m therefore of the opinion that if Leeds do click back into action, they’ll do it convincingly. It means instead of taking that prohibitive win price, I’ll turn to the handicap market and back Leeds (-1) at a much more appealing 13/5 (Sportsbook).
Obviously they would have covered that in the first meeting (the 5-2 at Elland Road) and Bielsa isn’t suddenly going to change his methods now due a few games without a goal.
If Leeds do get the goal buzz again, one could easily become two or three.
The goals market reflects what we normally see from Leeds – goals at both ends. It means Over 2.5 Goals is just 1.748/11.
There is certainly an argument for Unders at 2.245/4 it has to be said. If you take the angle that Leeds aren’t scoring right now and Newcastle never score, then it could be a stretch to expect three goals.
The price is big enough to warrant a bet.
A similar argument applies to Both teams to Score. ‘No’ would certainly be the value at 2.3611/8.
If playing the Same Game Multi, Patrick Bamford would be the obvious Leeds player to pair with a Leeds win.
The striker has scored seven of his 10 Premier League goals away from Elland Road so enjoys the extra space.
Leeds (-1) and Bamford anytime is 5.07. Bamford and the basic Leeds win is 3.11
Newcastle have managed just 9.1 shots per game in home Premier League games this season (82 in 9 games) – since 2003/04, their previous lowest total at St James’ Park was 11.8, in 2017-18.