Newcastle United travel to Elland Road to face Leeds United in the Premier League on Saturday afternoon as they continue to scrap against relegation.
Eddie Howe hasn’t enjoyed an instant turnaround during his two and a half months at the helm of Newcastle and comes up against one of his least favourite opponents at the weekend. Of teams that Howe has faced more than once, only Manchester City have a higher win rate against his sides than Leeds (86% – six defeats from seven).
Here’s the XI Howe may call upon to begin to rectify his personal record against Leeds and his tenure thus far at Newcastle…
Martin Dubravka (GK) – Despite the supposed change in style Howe was set to usher in, no Premier League goalkeeper launches – i.e. passes longer than 40 yards – a larger proportion of their goal kicks than Dubravka (91% per FBref).
Kieran Trippier (RB) – The first arrival purchased by Newcastle’s controversial owners hasn’t played Leeds since forcing an own goal against the Yorkshire outfit in 2014.
Jamaal Lascelles (CB) – Of the three players in Europe’s top five leagues to have conceded a continental-high three penalties this season, Newcastle’s skipper is the only one that has also scored an own goal.
Fabian Schar (CB) – With a deal for the Europa League-winning Sevilla defender Diego Carlos potentially nearing its completion, Schar’s position may come under considerably more scrutiny.
Paul Dummett (LB) – After a lengthy lay off, Dummett could be poised to make consecutive Premier League starts for the first time since the final weeks of May 2021.
Sean Longstaff (CM) – Once the reported subject of Manchester United’s admiring glances, Longstaff now watches on as an endless deluge of players are linked to his current club, perhaps in place of the midfielder himself.
Jonjo Shelvey (CM) – Singled out by Howe at the new manager’s unveiling in the hopeful days of November, Shelvey hasn’t quite delivered on the technical supremacy his coach lauded, but has started all but one match since his arrival.
Joelinton (AM) – A reshuffle following a red card gave Howe a first inkling of the Brazilian forward’s ability in midfield, a position he has since been deployed in with some success.
Ryan Fraser (RW) – No player has accumulated more Premier League assists across Howe’s tenure in the division than the 5’4 winger affectionately (presumably) referred to as ‘Wee Man‘ (29 according to Transfermarkt).
Chris Wood (ST) – Following a thoroughly underwhelming debut, Wood visits the familiar home ground of a club for which he averaged exactly one goal every other game across two years (44 in 88). What Newcastle would give for that consistency from their winter arrival.
Allan Saint-Maximin (LW) – Newcastle’s team leader for goals, shots, assists and key passes (among several other metrics) this season is cripplingly integral to the Magpies.