HALF-TIME: Newcastle 0-1 Leeds
Better stuff from Newcastle, they’re probing away and Hayden wins a corner. Leeds clear their lines from the set piece and counter, they have plenty of men forward and the move ends with Harrison’s cross going long and the whistle goes for the break.
47 mins: Newcastle 0-1 Leeds
Murphy, turning and moving away from the Leeds goal has a shot from just outside the area. It goes wide but at least it was positive from the hosts.
44 mins: Newcastle 0-1 Leeds
Five minutes to be added on…
Free-kick for Leeds, 40 yards out, on the right. It comes in and Bamford glances it wide. On the replay it’s clear that was a better chance than it originally looked.
43 mins: Newcastle 0-1 Leeds
Two good chance for Leeds.
Rodrigo is first up as he cuts in and has his shot saved, then Raphinha gets to the byline and rather than pull the ball back for Bamford shoots and hits the post.
41 mins: Newcastle 0-1 Leeds
Great throughball with the outside of his right foot by Schar for Murphy and it’s a corner for Newcastle. From the resulting set-piece Meslier nearly drops it.
39 mins: Newcastle 0-1 Leeds
Better past few minutes fro Newcastle, they’re on the front foot a bit more, Fraser is seeing the ball more and he smashes an effort over the bar.
36 mins: Newcastle 0-1 Leeds
It’s now six hours since Newcastle’s last goal – Andy Carroll v Leicester on January 3…
Is it now a Where Were You Moment? Me? I can’t remember…
33 mins: Newcastle 0-1 Leeds
Fraser puts in what looks like a hopeful ball from wide on the left, it evades everyone and Murphy nearly gets a vital touch at the back post.
Meanwhile, Meslier is down. This has been a very stop-start first 45 minutes. The Leeds keeper is back up and takes the goal kick after a long delay.
31 mins: Newcastle 0-1 Leeds
Cooper fouls Wilson and the hosts have a free-kick. Can they make it count?
The answer is no – from 30 yard Shelvey runs and blasts it into the stands…fairly brainless…
28 mins: Newcastle 0-1 Leeds
Dallas is back on and moving OK, which is good news for Leeds.
Meslier yet to make a save.
25 mins: Newcastle 0-1 Leeds
Leeds are probing – every time they get the ball they have so many more options than Newcastle. they look sharper, hunting packs – overall, the better side.
Dallas is down – they’ll want him to stay on, he’s been one of their stars this season.
23 mins: Newcastle 0-1 Leeds
Newcastle passing the ball well at the moment but unable to create anything remotely passable for a chance. Still signs of improvement.
19 mins: Newcastle 0-1 Leeds
It’s been all too easy for Leeds so far – they’ve been the better side and are worth the early advantage.
Almiron wins a corner off Ayling for Newcastle – chance to create a chance. Shelvey delivers a good ball which Lascelles heads just over. Cooper did just enough to put the Newcastle man off.
GOOOOOOAAAAAALLLLLL!!!! Newcastle 0-1 Leeds
Raphinha scores. Mistake by Murphy as he loses the ball from a throw in. Leeds break quickly with Bamford driving into the final third, he goes right to Rodrigo who cuts inside onto his left, head up he squares the ball to Raphinha who takes a touch before firing in to the corner from just inside the box. Easy and clinical from the visitors.
14 mins: Newcastle 0-0 Leeds
The hosts are struggling to string passes together at the moment – once they’re pressed high up they seem to panic. Leeds on the front foot.
10 mins: Newcastle 0-0 Leeds
For obvious reasons – injuries and trainers on the pitch, if you haven’t been keeping up – this has been a stop-start match so far.
Great one-touch play from Leeds on the right ends with Bamford crossing to the back-post and Harrison hits is first time, slicing his volley well, well wide. Good chance and had the time to take the first touch.
7 mins: Newcastle 0-0 Leeds
Leeds win a corner as Lascelles blocks a cross intended for Rodrigo.
Newcastle head the set-piece away and the visitors have a throw. Llorente is now down and it looks like he’s done his hamstring – he’s off and Struijk is on.
5 mins: Newcastle 0-0 Leeds
Shelvey picks up the ball from 35 yards, has a dig and it goes wide. Was there to be hit and, if we’re being positive, shows the attacking intent Newcastle need and have been lacking.
3 mins: Newcastle 0-0 Leeds
Scrappy start, the ref’s whistle being the most prominent aspect of the match so far.
2 mins: Newcastle 0-0 Leeds
Newcastle are in their traditional black and white with Leeds in the lesser-seen maroon number…
Leeds have Dallas pushed up into midfield tonight.
Bad sign for Newcastle as Schar falls awkwardly and his holding his shoulder – he was out earlier this season with a shoulder injury. The trainer is on and the Swiss is, for now, staying on.
1 min: Newcastle 0-0 Leeds
We’re under way at the cathedral of football that is St James’ Park. Both side need a win, so let’s hope for an entertaining match.
Both sides have one goal between them this year – fingers crossed that improves over the next 90 minutes.
Steve Bruce speaks….
On the fact tonight’s it’s his 450th match a coach in the Premier League…
“The last couple of weeks have been difficult but experience help at times like these. I hope it’s (the 450th) a positive thing and we get a result because that’s what we need.”
On Saint-Maximin on the bench….
“We’re delighted to see him – he’s been missing for a long time. Of all the ones who’ve had Covid he’s the one who’s had the toughest time, but we’re nursing him along.”
“They’ve been quite remarkable, everyone’s team to watch, I can understand that. We’ll have to play play and exploit any hole they leave at the back.”
So what’s gone wrong at Leeds?
It’s clear they missed Phillips against Brighton and perhaps the current run of four defeats in six in all competitions since they beat tonight’s opponents 5-2 at the start of December is simply a reality check.
For Telegraph Sport’s Luke Edwards it’s the result of perhaps being too stubborn and not cute enough…
Leeds United have charged through the season up to this point, barely noticing the difference between Championship and Premier League, neither adapting nor compromising, belligerently sticking to the game plan, week after week, regardless of outcome.
They have played the same way this season as they did when winning promotion last year, kept the same principles and always looked to impose themselves on the opposition.
It has not always worked, there have been some heavy defeats as well as glorious victories, but nobody at Leeds wants them to change, which is just as well because Marcelo Bielsa’s stubborn streak is as much a feature of his personality as his obsessive attention to detail.
Here be Leeds
Leeds XI: Meslier, Ayling, Cooper, Llorente, Alioski, Phillips, Raphinha, Dallas, Rodrigo, Harrison, Bamford; Subs: Poveda-Ocampo, Roberts, Casilla, Helder Costa, Hernandez, Struijk, Davis, Klich, Shackleton.
Having lost 1-0 to relegation-threatened Leeds 10 days ago Marcelo Bielsa has made three changes. In comes fit-again Illan Meslier in goal, Kalvin Phillips is back from suspension and Diego Llorente is in for Mateusz Klich in midfield. That last change is a bit of a shock as the Pole has stated all but two matches for Leeds during the Argentine’s reign.
I give you the Newcastle XI
Newcastle XI: Darlow, Murphy, Hayden, Lascelles, Schar, Lewis, Almiron, Shelvey, Hendrick, Fraser, Wilson; Subs: Dubravka, Matthew Longstaff, Carroll, Joelinton, Saint-Maximin, Ritchie, Gayle, Krafth, Manquillo.
There are two changes from the 2-0 defeat at Aston Villa on Saturday – Andy Carroll starts on the bench, with Ryan Fraser coming in to the side. Javier Manquillo is the other player to miss out with Jacob Murphy replacing the Spaniard. Allan Saint-Maximin, so often the side’s bright spark, is still building up his fitness after recovering from coronavirus and is on the bench.
Perennial pain for Newcastle
When it comes to trying to stay in the Premier League you wonder why (if you ignore all the money that comes with it…) Newcastle bother.
Every season seems to be a huge trial for the club and their fans. A never-ending siege of stress, pain and introspection from which it must be impossible to derive any enjoyment or happiness at all.
This campaign has fallen into the familiar routine of fans’ initial hope being replaced by dismay and anger. We’re currently at the ‘something has to happen’ stage with supporters on social media calling for current coach Steve Bruce to be sacked.
It’s not hard to see why.
If they fail to score tonight it will be the first time since March 1981 Newcastle will have failed to find the back of the net in five consecutive matches. Added to that they are without a win in eight league games, drawing twice and losing six.
Then there’s the BIG problem – the fact that they’re just so dull to watch. If there is any positive for Bruce to take out of this run it is that there are no fans allowed in St James’ Park, as you suspect they would have made sure that the entire country, not just the north east, could hear them voice their disapproval of the coach.
Newcastle fans want to see swashbuckling stuff, to be entertained, to see their beloved side be positive. And, if they are to lose, to lose with their heads held high. In truth they haven’t had a side like that since Sir Bobby Robson was boss at the turn of the century, and, before him, with Kevin Keegan in the dugout.
I suppose the situation at Newcastle is similar for many fans around the country – if the only aim is to stay in the Premier League and you’re not entertained while doing it, then what is the point?
Tonight’s match, however, offers a chance to forget their current, seemingly perennial, plight and get some much-needed points against a Leeds side also in a rut.
He may not bring to the table a glut of points and edge-of-the-seat football but Bruce does offer up a great record against tonight’s opponents. The Newcastle manager has never lost a home league match against Leeds as a manager, winning five and drawing twice.
During these tough times it’s probably best to grab any crumbs of comfort you can find because you fear the next crisis is never far away.
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