June 21, 2024

With just over two weeks left until the 2022/23 season comes to a close, the situation is clear. Pick up seven points from our remaining four games and Champions League football will be ours.

Liverpool have closed the gap to three points, but we have a game in hand on the Reds and significantly better goal difference. It remains firmly in our hands. Barring a big swing in goal difference, a top-four finish would be all but secured if we won our next two games; the second being Brighton’s trip to Tyneside next Thursday.

Howe won’t be looking beyond Saturday, however, where Sam Allardyce’s Leeds stand in our way. The former Toon boss has returned to the Premier League for another rescue mission, but recent history suggests he’s lost it. He won just four from 26 in his last top flight job, losing his first four home games by an aggregate score of 17-0 before sending West Brom down. If we turn up, take our chances and manage the occasion at Elland Road, I’m confident we win.

Here’s what Eddie Howe had to say when speaking ahead of the game on Friday morning:

“We’re looking forward to it. We know it’s going to be a great occasion and a great atmosphere. We need to be ready for what’s going to come. It’s going to be a really important start to the game. I think the first 15/20 minutes will have a huge impact on what’s going to happen afterwards.”

“The lads have been incredible in every game bar one or two this season. They’ve given me absolutely everything. Now we have four games to try to consolidate all of that effort to achieve something remarkable. That’s what we’re looking to do, just keep our nerve, keep doing what we’re doing and hopefully it will be enough.”

Team news

Sean Longstaff has not suffered a break in his foot, but he’s having another scan to check for ligament damage, meaning this one will come too soon for our unsung hero in midfield.

Joelinton is fine – despite limping off last weekend – but Matt Ritchie (knee) and Jamaal Lascelles (calf) have been ruled out for the season, with Emil Krafth (ACL) and Ryan Fraser (training with our U21s) also expected to miss out once again.

For the hosts, tough-tackling midfielder Tyler Adams will miss out alongside Liam Cooper, Stuart Dallas, and winger Luis Sinisterra, leaving Allardyce ‘light’ in a few areas of the pitch.

Predicted line ups

(4-3-3): Pope – Trippier, Schar, Botman, Burn – Willock, Bruno, Joelinton – Almiron, Isak, Saint-Maximin.

It’s clear Longstaff won’t play, meaning we must find the balance and discipline we lacked in midfield last weekend. Howe will have been working to solve that weak point, but it’s anyone’s guess what he does with Isak and Wilson.

Both seem too good to bench, especially away to a relegation-threatened Leeds who’ve been awful at home recently, yet we lacked balance when starting both in a 4-4-3 against Arsenal. This is a very different game, meaning a fit-again Allan Saint-Maximin will come back into contention.

I see Leeds setting up with a low block and trying to frustrate us, meaning the electric Frenchman could offer the spark needed to unlock the door. It seems harsh on Wilson, I just can’t see Isak dropping out of the side and think we’ll also see Almiron return to the XI.

Howe declared him ‘100% fit’ in Friday’s press conference and Murphy struggled last Sunday, so this could be the right time to reintroduce our second top scorer.

Big Sam may make Leeds tougher to beat, meaning another hammering at home is less likely, but I don’t see him getting the better of Howe’s high-energy Mags.

If we can take our chances – something we didn’t do last week – I back us to come away comfortable winners. They’ll try to create a bear pit atmosphere and throw us off our game, so an early goal could be huge to settle us down, break their spirit and scupper Allardyce’s game plan.

Isak and Saint-Maximin to cause havoc and Pope to end his run without a clean sheet.

Prediction: Leeds 0-2 Newcastle

read more:

‘Talented’ forward worth £7.5 million is wanted by Leeds this summer, free of charge.

Newcastle: Magpies make first steps to sign versatile defender for Howe-247sportcamp news

 

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