It will be quite the contrast in the Northeast on Friday night when Leeds United come to St. James' Park to face Newcastle United in Premier League action.
Both clubs are former heavyweights in English soccer but have had complicated histories since the Premier League era began. However, Leeds are now among the most well-run and ambitious clubs in the top flight with a world-class manager. Newcastle, meanwhile, simply tread water and exist to make money — a lifeless club overseen by one of the country's worst managers, Steve Bruce.
How will this clash of ideals play out? Read on for our Newcastle United vs. Leeds United picks and predictions for September 17.
Newcastle United vs Leeds United game info
• Location: St. James' Park, Newcastle, England
• Date: Friday, September 17, 2021
• Time: 3:00 p.m. ET
• TV: NBCSN, DAZN
Newcastle United vs Leeds United betting tips
- Leeds (+121)
- Leeds Over 2.5 goals (+300)
Read on for complete analysis
Newcastle United vs Leeds United match odds
Odds via the Covers Line, an average comprised of odds from multiple sportsbooks.
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Newcastle United vs Leeds United betting preview
After a calm, clear day on Tyneside, rain is expected to roll into Newcastle near kickoff on Friday night, with showers forecast throughout the match. The temperature is expected to hover around 60 degrees Fahrenheit.
Newcastle United: Martin Dubravka GK (Out), Callum Wilson ST (Out), Ryan Fraser AM (Out), Jonjo Shelvey CM (Out), Paul Dummett LB (Out).
Leeds United: Pascal Struijk CB (Questionable), Robin Koch CB (Out), Diego Llorente CB (Out).
Newcastle United vs Leeds United predictions
While Newcastle United do boast a few players who could play a role in a side as talented as Leeds, the two do not compare as teams. Leeds are fearless, relentlessly intense, and absolutely clear in their intentions during a game. That's because on the touchline is Marcelo Bielsa, one of the world's greatest managers and one who is meticulous in his preparations.
Bielsa's opposite on Friday will be Steve Bruce, who late last season hired a coach who has been credited by players as the one who sorts out tactics and runs training. Bruce is as embattled as a manager can be and it will only get worse on Friday, when there is a high likelihood of 50,000 Newcastle supporters booing him with fury every time he steps out of his dugout.
All that is to say, while both clubs have begun the season relatively poorly (Leeds are on two points, Newcastle just one), they are not in similar places. Bielsa, and Leeds' standing in the Premier League, offer reasons for optimism. Bruce, and the toxicity around Newcastle, only offer more pessimism.
Though Leeds' start has been underwhelming, they do have the edge in both expected goals and expected goals against. One of their results in the young season was a hard-fought 2-2 draw with Everton, in which they came back from behind twice. Newcastle's crowning achievement on the season is being in a position to win, at home, against a Southampton side that had soundly outplayed them until a last-gasp penalty resulted in a draw.
The gulf in class between Leeds and Newcastle's squad and management was apparent last year, when Leeds won 5-2 and 2-1 in a span of 40 days. It will be apparent again Friday, when 17th place Leeds United look like league-winners against 19th place Newcastle United.
PICK: Leeds United (+121)
Team total pick
Care for an example of Bruce's ineptitude as a manager? Following the 2018-19 Premier League season, Bruce took over as Newcastle manager from Rafa Benitez who, like Bielsa, is one of the world's great managers. Under Benitez, Newcastle had built a fantastic defensive foundation and a system that could switch between four- and five-man backlines with ease, getting the best out of players no matter the tactics. In Benitez's final season, despite Newcastle finishing 13th in the table, they conceded the seventh-fewest goals and had the 10th fewest expected goals against.
Fast forward through two years of Bruce's tutelage and that defensive foundation has been imploded, demolished, crumbled, and swept away — a forgotten project lost to time. Despite maintaining the same core (six of eight defenders to play in the Premier League in Benitez's last season are still with the team) Newcastle finished last season in 12th, having allowed the fifth-most goals with the seventh-highest expected goals against. Through four games this season, no team has allowed more goals or has a higher expected goals against than Bruce's Newcastle. The longer Bruce oversees Newcastle, the worse they get.
So, Leeds will understandably be licking their chops at the notion of facing a fractured Newcastle backline on Friday. After finishing last season with the sixth-most goals scored and fifth in xG, Leeds have been slow to start this year with four goals and the 10th highest xG. Leeds' problems may extend beyond this weekend but for a night, they'll return to the dynamic and relentless form they displayed in attack a year ago.
PICK: Leeds Over 2.5 goals (+300)
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