Newcastle United make the trip to the East Midlands this evening where they will take on Brendan Rodgers’ high-flying Leicester City side. The Magpies go into the game sat precariously in 15th place with 35 points, seven above Cardiff and the drop zone.
The Foxes come into this one in brilliant form, they’ll be searching for a club record-equaling fifth consecutive Premier League win. Since taking over the reins back in February, Rodgers has overseen a real resurgence in Leicestershire which has seen the side take the lead in the race for seventh.
Despite the fact that Newcastle were damn near unplayable on their travels before Christmas, Rafael Benitez’s side have yet to pick up an away Premier League win in 2019. The last win away from St James’ Park came at Huddersfield back in December. In terms of general form, NUFC come into this one on the back of two consecutive defeats – meaning there is a CLEAR favourite for this game.
The Shelvey debacle
Jonjo Shelvey is, in my opinion, one of the best creative midfielders outside of the top six in English football. On his day, he can be the English Iniesta – but he can’t seem to get into the team. The former Swan has yet to make a Premier League start this calendar year – the last one came back in November when NUFC hosted Watford.
Despite his return to fitness and the recent injuries to Sean Longstaff and Mo Diame, he still can’t make that starting XI. Why? What is it about him that Rafa doesn’t like? With Almiron in the team, it seems like a dream scenario for him as far as I’m concerned. Bringing in Shelvey would allow Almiron to play 10-15 yards further up the pitch in his more natural attacking position. At the moment, he’s having to come all the way back into midfield to get the ball and it’s damaging his influence on the game.
The hosts will have both Johnny Evans and Harry Maguire to call upon once again – Evans has recovered from a hip problem while Maguire missed the last game due to the birth of his first child. Despite some concerns during the week, veteran striker Jamie Vardy will be available despite a minor groin injury. The only real doubt is Marc Albrighton who is still short on match fitness.
In the other dugout, Newcastle seem to be over the worst of their injury woes as Mo Diame returns to the squad. However, they do have one less spare bed in the treatment room as Florian Lejeune damaged his ACL in last weekend’s potentially damaging defeat to Crystal Palace.
With Newcastle sat on 35 points, a win will virtually guarantee their presence in the Premier League again next season as Cardiff would then need four wins from their last six to catch up. For Leicester, as previously mentioned a win would equal their record of consecutive Premier League wins (5). It would also put them a step closer to a place in the Europa League qualification rounds.
Author Prediction: Can’t see much for this one from a Newcastle point of view, I’m going to back Leicester to continue their good form with a 2-0 win.